By Scott Gordon, The Chief Revenue Officer
When describing what I do to friends, prospects, and fellow business networkers, I’m often confronted with confused looks as folks try to reconcile two seemingly different business challenges: business process optimization (aka – CRM) and reputation (or online reviews) management and why or how I would propose to tackle both of these for my customers.
The purpose of my first blog of the new year is to describe how these two business functions are related and why they are best managed together using online software platforms.
Let’s start with online reviews management. The most obvious challenge in this area is something called Yelp and the dozens of spinoff and lookalike sites it has spawned. In fact, online reviews have become so popular with shoppers (of everything from gadgets to home improvements) that Google and Facebook have jumped into the fray. Depending on what you read, 9 in 10 consumers now consult online reviews before making a purchasing decision.
Today the internet is abuzz with consumer experiences that most often modulate between angry 1 star and exuberant 5 star reviews with more thoughtful (and useful) 3 and 4 star experiences sprinkled in sparingly as a too underutilized counterpoint to the extremes on both sides.
I often start with my clients by discussing reviews management because it’s often symptomatic of larger business process issues present in the organization. For example, if there is a preponderance of customers complaining about ‘lack of communication’, ‘scheduling’, ‘multiple trips to resolve’ something, ‘unresponsiveness’, etc, we have an informed starting point to delve into those challenges.
In reviewing what’s out there on the internet, I spend the most time with the 3 & 4 star reviews as I’ve found these to be the most useful and constructive and the least emotionally charged (and as a result, most factually accurate).
In theory, if we can fix these issues (with email automation, better calendaring & dispatch, training & inventory on trucks, or weeding out a bad apple or two, etc), then we should see a commensurate raise in star ratings overall, but there can be a significant lag between the two.
As I’m sure you’re aware, fixing these issues takes analysis, planning, and often software implementation and adoption. The process can take months, so the reviews will lag the effort by an equal amount, so we need some way to solicit more reviews from happy customers (who are less likely to leave reviews than unhappy ones) while we are optimizing and automating the backend.
This is where reviews management can jump start online ratings and begin to bring in more customers as the operational components are brought into alignment to:
It’s quite simple, really. If you just do reviews management, but don’t fix the underlying problems, at best, your reputation will tread water. If you fix the problems, but don’t engage more of your satisfied customers to share their experiences, your business could suffer from a cash crunch that is difficult to recover from as the negative reviews keep rolling in.
Interestingly, what I’ve discovered is that companies with average to high online star ratings are far more likely to engage me to assist with reviews management than one with low star ratings who would benefit the most. The former are also more likely to engage me to assist with operations and CRM as they are always looking for ways to continually improve their customer experience and efficiency.
More customers and better efficiency equal higher profits. As a result, well run companies have more money to invest in the very things that made them successful in the first place – like process, training, and automation.
So, in summary, online reputation is often symptomatic of acute operational issues that are most easily addressed with CRM and business process solutions that in turn feed online reputation, but one needn’t delay in the repair of one while actively addressing the other. A holistic approach is the most effective long term solution.
There you have it.