Online reviews play a more central role than ever in a customer’s choice of
which businesses to visit. It’s not enough to simply get reviews; you also have
to reply to them, since 1 in 3 Internet-users today look at the replies to
online reviews before visiting an establishment.
The same question presents itself for all networks, whether integrated or franchised: should head office be replying to reviews or is it better for the point of sale in question to do so?
We at Partoo support hundreds of brands and thousands of points of sale in such matters and see so many cases. In this article we will attempt to provide some answers, outlining the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.
1. Why reply to reviews centrally from your head office?
Customer relations is a craft in itself, especially when it comes to Google My Business and Facebook reviews, where a reply to a review can go on to be read by thousands of Internet-users.
One key factor that it is important to understand here is that in the eyes of the Internet-user, there is no central or local reply; there is simply a reply from the company to its customer, meaning that it is the company’s (e-)reputation that is at stake.
The advantages of a central reply to online reviews are as follows:
Professionalism: empathy, spelling and politeness are three of the key elements of any reply to an online review, and it can be difficult to enforce a strict policy on establishment managers where such matters are concerned.
Responsiveness is another key factor, and establishment managers will have operational matters to deal with that may take precedence over managing their reviews—something that wouldn’t be an issue if this was taken care of at a central level.
Finally, there are various SEO implications associated with reviews and how you reply to them. Using keywords in your reply will allow you to appear in searches relating to those keywords; this is just one of the ways in which replying to reviews can play a crucial role in your digital strategy
2. Why leave it to establishment managers to reply to reviews?
The advantages of a local reply to online reviews are as follows:
It is your local employees who meet your customers and are therefore in the best position to reply to a comment, whether positive or negative, following a shopping experience at their establishment.
This is a good way to give store employees a sense of responsibility and make them feel involved by having them deal with feedback from their own customers
It will also take some of the burden off head office
It is, however, important to adapt to the following:
Your sector: if you work in a sector that tends to get few reviews, a centralised approach is better
The maturity of your network: in a network in which point-of-sale managers lack sensitivity to such matters, a centralised response is preferable
Your relationship with your points of sale: take the relationship you have with your distribution network (branches, franchisees, partners, multi-brand platforms, etc.) into account
Please do not hesitate to contact your Customer Success representative at Partoo should you wish to discuss individual customer cases.
3. Is there a middle ground? How do I go about implementing this?
The Partoo interface allows you to assign certain rights to your teams, be it at the local, regional or national level.
The aim is to give your store managers the option of replying locally while at the same time maintaining control over your e-reputation and overcoming any lack of responsiveness. This method enables you to take responsibility for replying to reviews of establishments that do not wish to spend time doing so while at the same time allowing those who do wish to do so to take care of it themselves
Partoo therefore enables you to do the following:
Assign access rights to point-of-sale managers
Easily identify unanswered reviews using simple filters and reply to them if necessary
Correct your establishment managers' replies to reviews (spelling, editorial policy, etc.). These changes will then be immediately mirrored on Google My Business!
In a nutshell:
A local response will be more relevant, allow the manager in question to feel involved, and help take some of the strain off the head office team. A centralized reply means a more professional response, a high level of responsiveness and maximizing the ROI that the tool can offer in terms of SEO impact. It’s up to you to decide which is right for you.
Whether you have a network of establishments and you want to gather all of your reviews together on one central interface or leave it up to the establishment in question to reply, click below