RETAILER BEST PRACTICES
Online Reputation Management for Retailers:
The Top 10 Solutions
Without an organized way to monitor and respond to online reviews, retailers face potential peril.
Given the ever-increasing influence of hundreds of business-review sites that have popped up on the web, retailers need an organized way to monitor and respond to trash talk and other comments about them that appear online—or face potential peril.
These days, 86% of customers read reviews for local businesses before they decide to order from them online or visit a brick-and-mortar store, according to a 2018 study from BrightLocal
(www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey). And more than half—57%—say that they’ll shop at your store only if it has a minimum overall rating of four out of five stars. In fact, review readers say that they need to see at least 10 online reviews before they’ll even consider doing business with you, according to BrightLocal.
“With the emergence of social media, information is generated, relayed and consumed almost instantaneously,” said Marshneil Pachori, a senior manager at IT service provider Cognizant (www.cognizant.com).
“Opinions are transmitted by scores of web users in real time—good, bad or ugly—and all points of view are shared and open for discussion,” added Pachori, who authored the 2018 Cognizant report, “Authoring a Brands Online Reputation” (www.cognizant.com/insightswhitepapers/authoring-a-brands-online-reputation-codex1232.pdf). “If your organization makes someone unhappy in the virtual world, chances are that it will be relayed to many others in no time.”
Fortunately, there are a number of online service providers with online reputation-management solutions that enable you to monitor and respond to the publication of reviews about your store in real time. Many will send you an email alert the moment a new review about your store posts on any of the major online review sites. Many are also equipped with artificial intelligence, which sifts through all the reviews of your business online to identify trends in consumer sentiment about your store.
Many solutions are also designed to integrate with other popular business software you may use, enabling you to handle a number of tasks from the same dashboard.
G2 Crowd (www.g2.com), an online business software review service, has identified the top 10 online reputation-management solutions currently available on the market today, based on reviews from businesses that are using those solutions. Below is a roundup on the packages, listed in order of popularity, according to G2.
BirdEye (www.birdeye.com/retail): A comprehensive reputation-management suite, BirdEye also offers a special version of its software just for retailers. The package’s retail features include leveraging reviews to enhance customer loyalty as well as a tool to collect feedback from every customer via smartphone text messaging.
BirdEye also sends alerts about new customer reviews to the appropriate staff at your store so they can put out customer satisfaction fires very quickly. Other features include customer surveys, social-media publishing and web chat.
Podium (www.podium.com): This is a team-focused reputation-management solution that is designed to make it easy for a team of people at your store to work together to track online reviews and respond when appropriate. Key to team management is Podium’s team chat messaging system, which enables workers at your store to communicate together about reviews and other consumer sentiment from within the application.
Podium also messages customers to solicit feedback and collects reviews on your store from customer smartphone messages.
ConsumerAffairs for Brands: (https://brands.consumeraffairs.com): ConsumerAffairs for Brands plays it both ways when it comes to online reviews. It solicits reviews from customers on its website and then offers businesses software to do damage control on those reviews if need be. The online service offers retailers a number of ways to collect customer reviews, and it also offers a call center that will collect reviews for your business via phone.
ReviewTrackers (www.reviewtrackers.com): This solution specializes in aggregating and analyzing online reviews from all major review sites. Included in the service are customizable notifications that reviews on your store have been published as well as tools enabling appropriate staff to respond to reviews.
Also featured is analysis of the text customers use in their reviews, including sentiment analysis. Essentially, the company promises that the artificial intelligence in its service will identify trends in your reports along with insights about how your customers really feel about your store, product and/or service.
Reputology (www.reputology.com): This solution bills itself as a reputation monitoring service for retailers with multiple locations. Like many solutions, it will auto-contact staff that you designate each time a review on your store is posted on any of the major review sites.
Reputology will also enable you to survey customers at key points of contact with your store in an effort to pick up on customer dissatisfaction before it becomes a problem—or a bad review. It also analyzes the text of positive and negative customer sentiment, the results of which are rendered as trend charts, word-cloud reports and statistics tables.
One interesting twist: Reputology also scans for employees’ names in all reviews, bringing up reports on the performance of each one of your employees as perceived
Trustpilot (www.trustpilot.com): This solution enables retailers to automate collection of reviews on their websites and other web properties and gather overall feedback on their stores that is published on the web. Trustpilot also offers a template you can used to solicit reviews on your website or via email.
A number of online reputation-management solutions are available to monitor reviews posted about your store online. The solutions can:
According to G2 Crowd, the top 10 solutions available to do that monitoring are:
Appbot (www.appbot.co): Appbot specializes in reputation-management tools that can be used easily on a smartphone or similar mobile device. Like many solutions, it features artificial intelligence that looks for trends in customer reviews, including trends in customer sentiment. You can also configure Appbot to scout for specific types of sentiment that concern you most.
The service is also designed to integrate with popular software such as Slack, Zendesk, UserVoice, Delighted and the like.
Chatmeter (www.chatmeter.com): Besides tracking sentiment in customer reviews of your store, Chatmeter also analyzes how your reviews stack up against those of your competitors. Are you doing better than your competition? Worse? Chatmeter will let you know.
Retailers with multiple locations will appreciate Chatmeter’s ability to analyze customer sentiment on a store-by-store basis. And like many solutions, it auto-notifies you by email the instant a review of your store appears on any of the major review sites.
In a nice bonus, Chatmeter offers a plug-in for your website that will enable you to share reviews from major review sites such as Yelp! on your website.
Reputation.com (www.reputation.com): Another solution specializing in retailers with multiple store locations,
Reputation.com enables you to monitor reviews from “hundreds” of review sites on a central dashboard. It also enables you to share reviews from major review sites such as Yelp! on your store’s website.
Yext (www.yext.com): Yext manages your store’s presence on the web in a fairly unique way. It ensures that your company’s basic contact information and description is clear and up-to-date on more than 150 web mapping services, apps, directories, search engines and social networks.
When a potential customer enters your business name in Google, Yext ensures that all the search-engine returns from all the web services that monitor your store feature correct information.
Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.