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If you decided to let your local store managers handle their online reviews, you have to make sure they follow a set of rules and use the right tone of voice to avoid putting the brand name in harm’s way.

Establish the right ‘tone of voice’

The first thing to do is to identify the right tone of voice for your audience. It wouldn’t be the first time a manager answers a review in a bad way because he had a rough day, answered the review in the heat of the moment or because he was simply upset by the review itself. These bad answers can lead to serious problems as they can sometimes go viral and harm your brand’s image.

By setting the tone of voice right and training your managers you’ll be able to avoid these situations.

Here are a few tips:

  • Determine an overall tone of voice and adapt it depending on the number of stars. For example, a negative review will require more diplomacy than a five-star review, where you can easily thank the customer.
  • Prepare a few examples of best practices.
  • Also prepare examples of practices you must avoid 

Get problematic discussions out of the online landscape

This is a well-known rule among community managers. Nevertheless, this is a less known rule among the store managers. Therefore, you should prepare a process that will help them take the negative discussion offline. Once offline, you can sort the issue out with your unsatisfied customer.

I personally went through a similar situation once, and it ended up being a superb experience. After a terrible diner (lacking service, wrong plates served, and so on), I left a negative review on the Facebook page of that restaurant. The restaurant owner immediately replied and contacted me with a personal message. He then apologized and asked me to give it another try next time. I did give him a second chance, and we had a wonderful evening the second time. Afterwards, I even changed my first negative review.

Prepare templates with pre-defined answers for your local store managers

Your local store managers have an advantage over you: they can easily assess why a customer left a positive or negative review. On the other hand, community managers have the knowledge as to how you should respond to them. In order to help the store managers, you can prepare templates with pre-defined answers that store managers can use when answering their reviews.

Important Notice: Consumers are very sensitive to non-personalized messages. You should avoid using the exact same answers more than once.

Download your Answer Template

Put ‘approval flows’ into place 

If you wish to have an even better control over your managers’ answers you can also put an approval flow into place. By doing this you’ll have the ability to approve each review before it gets published by the store manager. There are plenty of solutions to create such a flow.

Nevertheless, you shouldn’t do this for all your incoming reviews as this approval system requires more time before an answer can be published. Especially if your objective was to save time by letting the store managers handle their reviews. You should especially focus on approving reviews with poor ratings (1 and 2 stars).

Explain to your local managers why Review management is so important

Too often these digital implications aren’t widely supported on the local stores side. If the initiative is justified, it often points out a bad communication between corporate and local stores, who fail to explain to their local managers why this is so important.

A few ideas:

  • Make a little video that explains why it is important to manage those reviews. You should focus around the following aspects: customer experience, customer journey and local ranking.

  • Show them figures. This will encourage them to better themselves. Furthermore, they will be able to notice the positive impact and results of their work when they do this the right way/correctly.  

Answering local reviews is fundamental to increase the instore traffic flow of each store and improve their local ranking. There also are advantages and disadvantages when letting your store managers handle their reviews. In the following article we go deeper on the pros and cons of each strategy: Should store managers be involved in the review management?