multi-location business review management

The Ultimate Multi-Location Business Review Management Strategy

A multi-location review management strategy is going to have different goals, processes, and people in charge when compared to a single location business. Read More...
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A multi-location review management strategy is going to have different goals, processes, and people in charge when compared to a single location business. The right strategy enables you to manage the who, what, where, when and how for each location.

But there are lots of requirements to juggle.

With some solid planning, you'll have the tools and resources you need to boost the review portfolios for each location in your business. Implement and execute a multi-location review management strategy that fundamentally enhances the customer experience across every location, and surfaces key insights to grow your enterprise.

Let's get started.

Treat your business like a franchise

A franchise follows a system. Franchise leadership sets the terms and conditions for each franchisee. There is a central chain of command and everyone reports to the top, to HQ.

Which is exactly what you need.

First, you'll need to determine who is in charge. This could be a director of marketing or regional manager. If your business has a corporate office that's easy enough (establish a company-wide leader) to work with. If you don't, you'll need to establish a clear chain of command. You'll need to determine the corporate hierarchy that makes sense for your business.

An example could be:

Director of marketing > customer service manager > customer support reps

Next, you'll need a point person who's responsible for maintaining your review management strategy for each location. The managers for each location would be responsible for working with local staff to implement strategy and tactics laid down by corporate leadership.

Second, you'll need systems and procedures. If your organization is large and you're working within corporate guidelines you want to stay within those guidelines. Follow the predetermined guidelines laid out by legal if you're looking to outline your strategy and tactics.

Use this ultimate review management checklist to ensure your plan has the appropriate guidelines.

You'll need:

1.    A service/order fulfillment checklist:

This includes fulfillment details, customer service information, reviews, risk reversals, objections and testimonials. Your fulfillment processes should (a.) meet customer expectations and provide service/product timelines (b.) Provide a recovery plan in the event of a failure on your part to fulfill your obligations to your customers.

2.    A review management audit checklist:

You'll need regular review audits for each location. You'll also need regular review audits for each competitor (and location). You'll need to audit the mainstream, niche and industry-specific reviews for each location. Use this audit management checklist for each of your locations.

3.    A review strategy and implementation checklist:

You'll need to outline acceptable methods for sharing and promoting online reviews. Which ratings will be shared (e.g. four and five star reviews only?). You'll need to determine when, where and how reviews will be shared (e.g. Your website, ads, social media, direct mail, email and text messages). Next, outline how you'll attract customer reviews (e.g. employees via incentives, review funnels via software, direct requests, autoresponder campaigns, etc.).

4.    A customer service and response checklist:

This checklist ensures your customer support teams have in-depth knowledge of your product or service. Customer service employees will need training, testing, incentives and reporting. You'll also need to manage customer sentiment about (1.) your competitors and (2.) your business for both your overall and individual locations.

5.   Consistent reports covering a variety of metrics:

Metrics might include: maps and location, overall reputation, sentiment analysis, review volume and platform reporting options.

With multi location enterprises, there's more emphasis on passing the data and business insights up the food chain. You'll want to create recurring performance reports that are sent directly to HQ, giving leaders the actionable data they need to make crucial decisions at the micro, meso and macro level. Reports should be sent to several parties: Location specific reports should be sent to HQ leadership and location managers. Comprehensive reports should be sent directly to HQ leadership.

If you're using review management software, providing leadership with the data they need is straightforward. You'll want reports to be generated monthly, quarterly and annually depending on the data you need to collect.

Here's the thing with each of these checklists.

You'll need to apply them differently than single location businesses would.

Here's what I mean.

A major customer service or social justice faux pas that begins with a single location affects every location. A major customer service win that begins with a single location affects every location. Minor reviews have minor impact and are typically limited to a single location.

You need to set clear policies outlining a companywide response for major wins and missteps. You'll also need to outline responses for minor/standard reviews. Next, you'll need to identify whether reviews should be managed by a point person for each individual location or a single person from HQ?

It's something your organization will need to decide for itself.

  • If each location manages its own review portfolio? You’ll need to ensure that everyone involved in the process, at each location, is highly trained and thoroughly prepared. Your systems and procedures, policies and protocols should be identical from location to location. While you should conduct regular audits on a weekly and monthly and annual basis to ensure your team is performing as expected, this approach requires a significant degree of trust. This may be difficult for large corporate environments with in-house legal teams.
  • If a central location manages all review portfolios? You only need to have one set of systems and procedures, policies and protocols. It’s easier logistically but harder from a customer service standpoint. The team working directly with customers is completely disconnected from the team at HQ that’s responsible for managing the companywide review portfolio. It’s likely that these two parties will struggle with follow-up and compliance issues.

What about discrepancies?

Let's say you have a location that is performing exceptionally well with a high volume of five-star reviews across the board. Next, you have a separate location that's doing poorly with a high concentration of one and two-star reviews?

How do you handle this?

The solution is fairly straightforward. You start by understanding the cause.

What is the specific cause of your negative reviews and low performance? Is it a single person? Group of employees? A lack of training in a specific area?

What about your positive reviews? What's so special about this location? Is it the team? A specific manager? A specific product line?

You need a system that encourages honest feedback.

With the right system, you'll have the details you need to create a solution that either eliminates or multiplies your desired outcomes.

A few examples:

  • If specific attributes of a specific location are mentioned in review comments (e.g. “the customer service employees are really knowledgeable and helpful! “) test out additional training and education for other locations on a trial basis.
  • If customers complain about the same product or service delivery issues for a specific location (but not others) consider running a pilot program at that location to improve specific problem areas. Then roll out updates to other locations as you’re able.
  • Use pilot programs to test out new incentives, bonuses and updates to see how customers respond. If the response is positive, you can roll things out to other locations. If they response is negative, negative reviews/feedback are limited to a single location.
  • If customers consistently request new products, services, programs or incentives in the review comments you can crowdsource feedback (via platforms like Uservoice) to gauge interest. Then test customer suggestions out at a single location, in a safe and measurable way.

Just one problem.

How do you identify low and high performing locations? You treat each location as a separate entity. The approach is the same regardless of whether your review management strategy is centralized and managed by one location (e.g. HQ) or whether each location manages its own review.

It's the same for every business.

You conduct a review audit to find the answer for each individual location. Here's a detailed guide on conducting a review management audit.

Can your team provide the right outcomes?

They can if they have the right incentive.

It's possible to incentivize your employees motivating them to pursue customer reviews. It requires a significant amount of upfront training, plans and training. It's an uncommon strategy but it's incredibly profitable if it's planned well.

Here are a few templates you can use:

Here's a list of best practices, strategies and tactics you can use to create a plan:

Additionally, you'll need helpful instructional content showing your location operational and support managers how to respond to reviews:

You want to take these details further and identify the principles and rules you'd like your team to follow. For example:

  • Which customers should be ignored?
  • Which negative reviews should be left alone (and why)?
  • Which positive reviews should you respond to?
  • Which customers are more likely to change their negative review to a positive one?

Make sure your support teams are focused on the clients who matter most. You'll want to make sure leadership knows how to audit and assess your operation manager's performance.

Showing directors and regional managers how to:

Additionally, managers will want to set actionable goals:

  • Review acquisition goals (e.g. 25 reviews per mo. per platform) that are based always tied to a specific percentage of activity. As managers, you’ll want to be aware of additional metrics. If you’re bringing in X amount of customers, you’ll need Y percent of reviews.
  • Meeting goals (e.g. clear plan for dealing with negative reviews, interview employees/customers to identify the cause of negative reviews at X location, etc.)
  • Setting protocols (e.g. ask customers who rated us a 7 out of 10 or higher for reviews X day(s) after Y event). Outline clear protocols for each level in team hierarchy.

What about motivation?

What do you need to do to motivate your team?

It all starts with your incentives.

Your incentive program needs to be built and developed around your organizations giving style. When your incentive program matches the giving style of your organization employees respond eagerly. Their views on review management take on a more personal approach.

They begin to take ownership.

What's the most popular incentive for employees?

Cold hard cash.

Your organization can use specific incentive programs to mobilize and increase employee response. Let's take a look at a few of the compensation models I covered in this post.

  • Bonus pool: Earmark a specific fee as a reward. Employees receive a predetermined amount. This can be distributed evenly or proportionally (i.e. based on an employee’s individual performance). Be sure to set compensation minimums and maximums.
  • Individual performance benchmarks: This incentive program rewards employees on a sliding scale. You create a system of tiered rewards (e.g. first review = X, 10 reviews = Y, 25 reviews = 50). This tiered system rewards individual effort and results.
  • Conditional profit-sharing: You earmark a specific percentage or fee as an employee reward. Profit-sharing produces the greatest amount of employee commitment and loyalty but it also requires a bigger commitment on your part. It’s much harder for large businesses to pull off.
  • Impromptu contests: Use surveys to identify a list of high value, one time rewards (e.g. $2,500, a new TV, a vacation etc.). Then you set an abnormal or higher than average stretch goal (e.g. 100 reviews on a new platform or site, 25 reviews per platform, per month.)

What if you can't offer additional compensation? Maybe your employees prefer a non-monetary reward? Here are 10 incentive ideas you can use to motivate employees. If you're in a difficult situation or you're limited by what you can provide financially this is a good place to start.

Use a multi-location review management strategy to grow your review portfolio

Your business has multiple locations which means you'll need a clear review management strategy you can follow. The right strategy enables you to manage the who, what, where, when and how for each location.

It's a lot to juggle.

Treat your business like a franchise. A franchise follows a system. Leadership sets the terms and conditions for each franchisee with a central chain of command.

A performance hierarchy.

With the right team, systems and procedures, and a clear plan, you'll have the tools and resources you need to boost the review portfolios for each and every location in your business.

About the Author

Andrew McDermott

Andrew McDermott is the co-founder of HooktoWin. He shows entrepreneurs how to attract and win new customers.