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December 30, 2022

Management Takeover: How to Stay on Top of Reputation Management During a Leadership Transition

Whether you’re a new hire or a veteran, we’ll help determine where to start to improve your business’s reputation during a management transition.

Imagine there’s new management at your company and you’ve recently been placed in charge of making a reputation management game plan. Whether you’ve recently been hired to help, or you’re a veteran in your role, we’ll help you determine where to start when improving your business’s reputation during a management transition. 

An important question to answer off the bat is: What is reputation management? It’s the strategic discipline of monitoring, generating, and responding to customer feedback across multiple review sites to improve and foster your brand’s image.

The goal: Maintain and build trust among your customers and prospective customers.

How to achieve it: Implement a proactive strategy to collect and distribute feedback from happy customers, monitor trends to handle negative sentiment accordingly, and respond to every review.

Launching your reputation management plan after new management has taken over your business puts you in a unique position. Rather than starting out with a clean slate and no reviews, your business may already have a Google Business Profile (GBP) and likely has collected reviews over time. 

Take Stock of Your Online Reputation Today

The first step you’ll want to take is to determine what the state of your online reputation is today. You want to understand what your past customers think of your business; performing a brand equity study is one way to determine why your customers chose your business and what they believe you represent. 

This article will help you understand another effective manner to determine what your customers think of you: study your online reviews. Studying customer feedback in a public forum will help you measure your reputation and help you form a plan to improve moving forward. 

Turn to your business Google Business Profile (GBP) to get a real-time understanding of your business’s online reputation.

  • Log in to your business’ GBP. *If you don’t have one, set one up.
  • Get a gauge of what your customers say about you online. How many reviews do you have? What’s your average Google star rating?
  • Take a look at industry-specific review sites. Does your business have a profile set up for every site it should be on? What are the ratings and volume of reviews on non-Google sites? 

Understanding the state of your reputation today will help you form your plan moving forward. If your business already has a great reputation, this doesn’t mean you’re fully in the clear. Maintaining an excellent reputation is still a lot of work. 

Next, determine what review response strategy (if any) the team had before you took your new position. 

  • Were any reviews responded to? Only positives? Only negatives?
  • Were responses thoughtful, personalized and focused on de-escalating any conflicts? 
  • Was a specific individual in charge of review responses on the team?
  • Did the team outsource review response services? Did the hired vendor use templates or bots for replies?

Ideally, all reviews should have thoughtful, personalized responses, so keep this in mind when assessing your review response strategy.

A winning review response strategy is one in which all reviews, positive and negative, receive a timely response. For positives (4 and 5 stars), thank the reviewer for their high rating, and acknowledge the specifics in their review. In a review response, you can reiterate your business’ value propositions. For example, in response to a review that mentions excellent customer service, try responding with something like “We’re known for our professionalism and customer service, and we appreciate your kind words about our team.” This language validates the reviewer, further increasing their confidence in the business. 

Responding to negative reviews (1, 2, and 3 stars) can be trickier since there’s an emotional element for your business that may cloud your perception of the review. Not only review responses a chance to make things right for the customer, but they’re also an opportunity to show off your business’s customer service skills to prospective customers who are reading reviews. Reply to negatives in a timely manner, apologize and take the conversation offline. If necessary, professionally explain your side of the story. Almost always, sign with the name of the relevant manager and leave contact information to encourage the reviewer to take the conversation offline.  

Partnering with a vendor for review response managed services is a great solution when your business gets many reviews, needs to get a lot more reviews, or if you manage multiple locations. Ideally, a hired vendor should not use templates or bots to reply to reviews – responses should sound authentic and highly personalized. 

For industry-specific ideas on how to respond to all your new reviews, download our review response guide today. 

The next step will be to consider whether the team had a strategy for generating reviews. Reviews are a depreciating asset, meaning that the most valuable reviews to prospective customers are recent ones. Old reviews won’t be as trustworthy. In fact, Brightlocal found that 73% of consumers only care about the reviews written during the previous month.

  • When did the most recent review come in? More than a month ago? How much time is there between each review on average?
  • Are you getting reviews regularly on a variety of platforms or is one single review site dominating the scene?
  • Are you getting enough reviews based on the number of transactions your business does per month?
    • Our recommended benchmark: 20% of in-store transactions should result in reviews. Why? This is based on our data for all Widewail customers using our automated review generation software, Invite, to ask every single customer for a review. They receive about 1 review for every 5 in-store customers that trigger a request for a review (So if your business completes 100 transactions per month, you should be receiving 20 reviews/month, assuming you ask every customer for a review.)

Getting a steady volume of reviews across many review sites is an indicator of an effective review solicitation strategy. A high frequency of reviews month-in and month-out tells Google you have great transaction volume. If you’re not getting consistent reviews, this might be a sign to launch a new review solicitation game plan. 

Get more reviews and increase your Google review score

Make a list of your reputation management goals for your business. You’re probably hoping to get more reviews and improve your review score across multiple review sites, which are interlinked objectives. Plus, positive reviews will boost your review score. 

Let’s start with your review generation goals–how many reviews do you want? You want to be more desirable than your competitors, so set your review volume goal with this in mind. Once you have your total target review volume, use this calculation to determine your monthly target review volume and then your monthly review request volume. 

Monthly target review volume = (target total review volume - current review volume)/12

Because review requests should convert around 20%, to hit your monthly target review volume you will need to send out 5x as many requests.

Monthly review request volume = (month target review volume*5)

Review solicitation is how you’ll achieve this goal. At Widewail, we recommend asking every customer for a review. By requesting a review of each customer, you will ‘activate’ the voice of the satisfied, happy customer who wouldn’t have otherwise left a review. 

More requests for reviews → more positive reviews → higher review score → more desirable to your prospective customers. 

Even if your business was soliciting reviews prior to the management takeover, here are some tips you’ll want to keep in mind. 

  • Ensure all your review sites are set up
  • Give directions on how to leave a review
  • Create a direct link for customers to leave reviews
  • Add review requests to your email signature
  • Ask every customer
  • Request reviews via SMS
  • Reach out at the right time (Tip: Automated software like Widewail Invite lets you customize triggers to send requests at the points of highest conversion.)  
  • Personalize requests
  • Explain the value of reviews to your business
  • Try an SMS Automated review generation tool

With a goal in mind of how many reviews you want and a plan on how you’re going to get them, you’re ready to take on your new management role and improve the reputation of your company. 

Download the Book: 56 Review Response Examples

Keaton Smith

I’m a writer, philosopher, climber, mountain biker, and a fried-egg enthusiast. Before joining Widewail as a Review Response Specialist, I attended Middlebury College and studied Philosophy and Art History. I grew up in Michigan, but I fell in love with Vermont while in school.

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