Tips on Managing Your Online Reviews

Avoiding negative reviews for churchesLocal reviews are one of the most important elements of local online marketing.  Reviews effect your organizations rankings and (possibly more importantly) effect people’s opinions of your organization, possibly determining whether a new visitor will contact you or not.

So, managing your online reviews is an important part of your local marketing.  In the past I’ve written about turning a negative review into a positive and recently wrote about a couple of case studies from Liz Krause about how she and her clients dealt with some negative reviews.

Avoid Them!
Of course, the best way to deal with negative reviews is to not get them in the first place.  Today, Mike Blumenthal wrote about 7 tips for avoiding bad reviews.  No organization can completely avoid all negative reviews, but with a little planning and some simple techniques you can seriously decrease the number of bad reviews you will get.

I encourage you to check out Mike’s article:

What about churches and ministries?
Mike’s article is focused on businesses, but schools, churches and ministries all face the same possibility of negative reviews.  Some of the tips Mike gives are appropriate for all organizations, but churches and ministries face some unique challenges.  So, I thought I’d add a few tips specifically for churches and ministries below.

Warning: I’m not an expert on this, so I’d love to hear from you if you think I’m off on one of my suggestions and I’d also love to hear any other tips you may have.

Here’s what I’ve thought of:

  1. Church greeterMake welcoming people part of the culture of your church.  In a business, the staff and employees are the representatives, but in a church and ministry, everyone is a representative.  Remind your members that all of them need to welcome visitors.
  2. Make it clear who people can talk to if they are experiencing and issue with the church/ministry.  Most people automatically assume they should just tell the Pastor, but he may not be the one who is going to deal with the issue and there may be a more appropriate person to speak to.  For example, at my church we have a volunteer who organizes Sunday School.  If you needed to speak to someone about Sunday School, they would be the best person to speak to.  Also, what if the issue is regarding the Pastor, who should people speak to.  Giving people a clear avenue for addressing their concerns can create a better church environment.
  3. Be responsive to suggestions and constructive criticism.  First, people like to know someone is listening.  Just being open to listening to suggestions and constructive criticism can prevent a lot of discontent.  Responding personally to the person making the suggestion/criticism, further shows that you value them.  Whether you agree with their assessment or not, by addressing their concerns and explaining your decision people will generally be more satisfied with the situation.
  4. Address complainers.  If/when a person starts complaining to others about one thing or another, don’t ignore it and hope the complaining stops.  Not only will ignoring not fix the issue with the complainer, but they will likely create more complainers.  By privately addressing the complainer right away you can prevent a lot of strife in the church.
  5. Be clear about the “why” when making changes within the church/ministry.  Most people are uncomfortable with change and changes lead to a lot of church issues, even splits.  By clearly explaining why a change is happening and how it agrees with the mission of the church/ministry you can get more people to “buy in” to the change.   By leading people up to and through the change, it can prevent a lot of misunderstanding and dissatisfaction.
  6. Create a culture of love.  I think most churches and ministries would say they want to create a culture of love, but I think it can be pretty easy to loose sight of intentionally creating that culture in the midst of the daily grind.  Preach it, teach it, exemplify it and encourage all the members to do the same.
What do you Think?
Like I said before, I’m not an expert at managing church / ministry member satisfaction and affinity so please post below if you think I’m off on one of my ideas or if you have any additional suggestions.

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