Recent studies show us that the customers use online ratings to determine which shop they will go to. In this study , you will find intresting figures. One of which tells us that 90% of the customers will read less than 10 reviews to make up his mind when looking online.
Is it relevant for local managers to manage the online reviews of their shop/point of sale?
Two things matter for customers applying the RoPo behaviour (Research Online, purchase offline) : the quality of the reviews they read , and especially, the quality of the answers given to those reviews. It has become a necessity to answer the online reviews your customers leave behind. That’s why more and more community managers and PR members ask themselves the following question: Is it better to manage your e-reputation from the headquarters or on local store level? Unfortunately, there is no fixed answer for this question. Every company has its internal methods and ways of working and each strategy has its strengths and weaknesses.
1. Advantages when your e-reputation is centralized and managed by your marketing department/ in the headquarters
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 expert 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.
2. 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: Between 2016 and 2015, the number of reviews has grown 10 times larger. By the end of the first semester of 2017, this number had already grown threefold. 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.
3. Advantages when the e-reputation is managed by the local store managers
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 reviews on a regular basis, store managers will be able to better comprehend their customers’ instore experience and how to improve this experience even further.
4. Inconvenients when involving your local points of sale
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.
The following article explains how you can set up an efficient collaboration within your organisation to manage incoming reviews properly and increase the e-reputation of your point of sale.
What about an approach where headquarters and local stores managers work together?
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, the Social media manager/community manager could prepare templates with half/semi-prepared (standard answers are not advised) answers that local store managers could use and custom in order to respond within the right context. This goes the same for analyses, macro analyses of the whole network can be done by headquarters while Store managers will analyse their data on a local level.