Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | January 2, 2019

In-House vs. Outsourced Online Reviews: What’s Right for My Brand

88% of consumers rely on reviews to make decisions.  If you’re lucky enough to win the local vetting, then 90% of customers will make a purchase within 24 hours.  What does all of this mean?  Reputation management has been a priority for most chains in North America during 2016 and for a good reason.

With the endless amount of review sites and social media platforms popping up around the web, the job of online review management has become a multifaceted experience that now includes areas such as: monitoring and responding to social media posts, replying to customers on review sites and generating positive reviews. With everything that is included in review monitoring, the process of incorporating it efficiently into your business and aligning it with your goals is almost impossible without the right tools in place.

Option 1: In-House Review Management Does it work?

Brands with multiple locations often find they do not currently have the time and resources needed to handle the unrelenting amount of data that comes with review management and are thus left overwhelmed. When looking for a solution some companies may think that hiring new employees to handle the job manually is a valid option because they may feel:

  • That is traditionally how they solve problems-hire a new employee
  • There is only a few review sites that are important, someone can just manually track them or use Google/Yelp! Alerts
  • Hiring a full time employee will allow the company to easily align their reputation management goals with their business and project goals
  • Emerging issues could be handled quickly and exactly the way they want

Unfortunately, for companies with a large number of locations, hiring a new employee won’t solve the problem; the amount of data that needs to be tracked in order to have an effective review management strategy is not scalable, even with a room full of new employees.


Take sears for example, with 1,000 stores nationwide, you can see they have over 30,000 online review, 20,000 business listings, and 25,000 social pictures posted. It is not physically possible for an employee to track organize and manage even 20 locations a day(20 locations across 10 sites, equals 200 sites!), let alone 1,000. They would need to track everything from new reviews and review responses, to historical data, competitor analysis and case management. Multiply that by 200 pages each day; before long the cold truth will set in that you could have avoided the cost of hiring a new employee if you had a platform that helped automate your online local presence.

Option 2: Outsourcing Review Management to an Agency

Alternatively, some companies may consider handing off the task to an outside agency rather than spending the time and resources that accompany hiring a fulltime employee. Companies looking to outsource their review management do so for reasons such as:

  • Outside reputation management firms have implemented social media and reputation management tactics into other businesses and therefore know what works and what doesn’t
  • Gets the task of reputation management off of your plate so you can say it’s being taken care of without having to deal with it directly

However, outsourcing to an agency has some issues that you should consider:

  • It’s difficult and time consuming to train an agency on your strategy, process, and execution of the plan.
  • Outsourcing will slow down the response time as you will be prioritized among other agency clients
  • It is very difficult for the 3rd party to consistently follow the same guidelines for all reviews. Experiences are unique and will require decision making on how to react and what should actually be said online in response. These are sensitive issues and if handled wrong, can make the situation worse.

If hiring an employee to handle the task of review management is inefficient and ineffective, and outsourcing is out of the picture, then what choice are you left with?

Option 3: Review Management Software Platform

Companies receiving hundreds of reviews a week may find that monitoring and compiling all their reviews into meaningful and useful information to be problematic. Moreover, responding to these reviews-while necessary-can be extremely time consuming. The only way to successfully implement and manage your reputation across multiple locations is through a software platform. A platform enables your current team to easily and effectively handle the task of review management. A software platform will provide:

  • Quick aggregation of data into actionable information
  • The ability to stay on top of your company’s reviews as it is the only way of ensuring you’ll receive the business you deserve, whether at a particular location or across many of them
  • The opportunity to keep up and engage with customers in ways that help your business grow

The features you should look for in a platform include:

  • Daily Alerts: Receive daily email alerts when you have a new review or new content pertinent to your brand
  • Review Management: A tool that monitors all your stores on a daily basis, makes it easy to quickly reply and engage with customers.  It should compare your stores with others within your brand, similar local competitors, and quickly identify where you need to focus your efforts.
  • Competitive Analysis: The platform should compare each of your stores with metrics that are from comparable stores in their local area. For example, review quantity can vary greatly depending on where the store is located.  It should automatically find those local competitors and make comparisons across all local SEO relevant performance metrics.
  • Case Management / Note Taking: The ability to take notes on reviews, images and listings across the dashboard to help you and your employees stay accountable
  • Local SEO Rank Tracking:: At the end of the day, it’s about getting more stores on page 1 and in front of more potential customers.  You should use a platform that reports on this so you can measure performance of the improvements you are making through the tool.
  • Review Generation: Encourage shoppers to post their experiences online, thereby increasing: reviews, rankings, engagement, and positive brand perception.
  • Media (The Reviews of today): Gather pictures tagged to each store from across the social web (Instagram, Yelp, Google, etc.) and display them in one convenient location.
  • Enterprise Functionality:  For chains, you likely have regional managers, or perhaps a few different brands.  The tool should allow you to quickly segment, analyze, and interact with any group of locations your company requires.

One alternative that we suggest you analyze is ours! Chatmeter’smultifaceted platform has all the features listed above and brings you some of the most powerful and easy to use tools in the industry.

Schedule a demonstration today, and see the power of Chatmeter for yourself!