Online reviews are rapidly becoming one of the most important marks of quality for a company. According to the Better Business Bureau, 92 percent of people read online reviews when trying to determine the quality of a local business, and 88 percent of people claimed that these reviews significantly impacted their buying decisions.
Having a bad rating could immediately turn away customers towards a competitor or e-commerce-based alternative. Even if they do buy, they may be more critical of the overall experience and less reluctant to broadcast their patronage of your business online. In other words, bad reviews will likely lead to worse reviews and lower business over time.
For these reasons, it is vital to generate positive reviews for your business. Doing so boosts the image of your brand while also providing a buffer against negative reviews. A single one-star negative review in twenty can bring a perfect five star score down to 4.8, for instance, while it would have almost no effect if there were 100 positive reviews already up. Positive reviews also serve as a ranking signal when Google and other search engines are trying to decide which local businesses should rank highest.
So promote your business, win over new customers and improve your customer experience at the same time by following these tips for drumming up positive reviews:
Claim Review Site Pages and Audit Your Current Reviews
Your first step — if you have not done these tasks already — is to claim your pages on Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and any other local relevant sites while making a dedicated Facebook business page. These pages allow users to post reviews and connect them to your primary business webpage. Even if you do not claim the page, people are still free to make a new listing for your business and post ratings.
Once you have claimed all pages where you have reviews, go ahead and take a look at them to identify trends. Hold off on acting on these reviews, good or bad, because you are going to want to have a solid strategy and some digital tools in place before you start managing your reputation online.
Make sure that you document the most relevant findings you see before you move on to the next step. Highlight both positives and negatives. If you have no reviews at all on a certain site, make a note of that, too.
Begin to Formulate a Strategy to Generate Positive Reviews
Your next step is to take into account your current customer service practices while also referencing existing online reviews and your own complaint log.
Take note of:
- How you handle customer complaints
- Whether your company documents praise given directly to employees
- Any current review tools people are actively using, including ones you may have on your own site
- Whether you have a set system in place to reimburse customers or offer them a conciliatory promotion to soften the blow of a negative experience
- Whether you follow-up with customers to ask them about their experience
With these items accounted for, you can begin to optimize your customer service practices to be more attentive to customer needs and sensitive to possible complaints.
Also, try to determine ways to exceed customers’ expectations. Having real people to answer the phone or respond to social media messages promptly is a great first step, as is going above and beyond to help them make an informed selection.
Leverage Online Reviews as a Ranking Factor
Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and other search engines all want to reveal the most popular businesses to search users. Since the volume and velocity of reviews can be a metric for that, Moz estimates that reviews have around 10 percent weight as a ranking factor. Note that diversity of reviews also matters, so having a few middling or negative opinions can be more beneficial in some scenarios than dozens of short, generic, five-star reviews.
Start a Testimonial Section on Your Website
The best strategy when getting online reviews is to focus on one platform, such as Google businesses. However, you can still create a page on your own website to capture and display glowing testimonials. You can also use this page to direct people to other review areas along with step-by-step instructions on how to leave their reviews.
Tell Customers In Writing and In Person That You Care About Their Opinion
Once you have a convenient portal to direct users to review sites or leave a written testimonial, you can begin encouraging people to visit that page and leave their thoughts. Have written signs mentioning the effort, and encourage all customer-facing employees to remind people about the page. You can also link to it on Facebook and through follow-up emails with customers.
At the same time, encourage employees to ask customers about their experience and train them on how to handle people who are frustrated or disappointed. The last thing you want to do is encourage more negative reviews!
Monitor Reviews Online and Respond to the Most Pressing Ones
Once you have a system in place encouraging people to leave positive reviews, you will have a better toolset to respond to reviews on an individual level. Look for less than positive reviews from upset customers first and explain how they can reach out to you to have their issues and concerns addressed. Never offer excuses or reasons why the customer is actually wrong — just apologize and try to make it better. Remember that while some customers are a lost cause, most can cool down when they realize they are talking to a real human rather than a faceless company.
In addition to responding to individual complaint incidents, you must document each and every negative review to look for trends. If many people are complaining about a particular product or company practice, take steps to address it.
You should also respond to positive reviews. A quick “Thank you for the kind words” shows that you are listening to your customers.
Consider Hiring an Online Reputation Management Pro
Digital marketing firms like Optimized Scribes have many years of experience improving customer interactions while helping small businesses to generate positive reviews. We can also help you handle situations where people abuse review systems, helping you remove fake reviews or ones that purposefully intend to hurt your reputation.
If you are interested in learning more about online reputation management strategies and how a dedicated digital marketing firm can help with boosting your online image, do not hesitate to contact us today!