In the context of consumer feedback, two things are important for consumers acting in RoPo mode (Research Online, Purchase Offline): the quality of the opinions they find on the local pages of the establishments, as well as the quality of the responses to these reviews. It has become a necessity to answer the online reviews your customers leave behind.
That’s why more and more community managers ask themselves the following question: Is it better to manage your e-reputation from headquarters or on local store level?
Unfortunately, there is no fixed answer for this question. Each business has its own methods of managing e-reputation and both methods have advantages and disadvantages.
The benefits of centralized management of consumer reviews
When centralized, the e-reputation is often managed by the community managers of the company. In order to do this, the company generally acquires a tool that enables them to centralize this activity.
From a practical perspective this solution seems easier because :
- Community managers are experts in their field, they know the right tone of voice and are used to manage discussions on online channels.
- As they are used to this job, no expensive formation is needed.
- The chosen platform will be easily implemented as all the reviews and answers are centralized into one interface.
- Qualitative reports as they are made by a team of professional community managers.
Disadvantages when using a centralized tool to manage your e-reputation
There are two major concerns when centralizing the management of your online reputation:
- The workload can increase rapidly: Le nombre d’avis publiés sur les pages point de vente ne diminue pas. This rise will also depend on the type of business and sector you are in.
- Community managers don’t have the “field experience”. For example, it could be difficult for a community manager to respond with the right answer without knowing the context in which the review was posted, this is especially tricky for negative reviews. Eventually the community manager will have to contact the point of sale and discuss the best approach, which will cost a lot of time and effort.
The benefits of decentralized management of customer reviews
Who has the most information regarding the context in which a negative review was posted? If you want to have answers that match the reality, you’ll have to involve your points of sale. Moreover, the extra workload won’t be that big as one point of sale only gets a few reviews per week. Especially if you have an extending network, you’ll be able to make a lot of savings by using this strategy.
Another strength of empowering your local points of sale: this will give the store managers a better understanding of what is going on in their stores. By managing feedback and viewing the reporting on a regular basis, they can understand how to improve.
The disadvantages of managing local reviews in a decentralized way
The major disadvantage you’ll experience with this strategy is the fact that Store managers usually don’t have much experience when it comes to community management. It will take time and effort to teach your store managers how to handle this properly. If you don’t pay attention to the formation of your managers you could end up in a situation where an untrained manager responds aggressively or in a bad way to a customers. Which you should avoid at all costs as this will negatively impact the store’s reputation and your whole brand as well.
Here's an article that explains how to help local managers respond to customer reviews.
Why not a collaboration solution between the mother store and their establishments?
You will have to balance out two main factors when using this approach : time and competence. Some tools will allow you to combine the strengths of the community managers with the strengths of the local store manager.
For example, community managers could prepare semi-standardized response templates (the simple standard is deprecated) that would be used and customized by the managers. Similarly "macro" analyzes can be performed centrally while managers will follow the evolution of their point of sale.
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