5 Ways to Grow Online Reviews for Local Businesses
Believe it or not, online customer reviews rival those of word-of-mouth recommendations when it comes to consumer trust.
Here is a 5 step plan in how to get reviews on Yelp, Google, Facebook, and beyond.
Online reviews are also known as online reputation filters. Whether you have many reviews, or just a few reviews, this step-by-step guide will help you to grow your online reviews and navigate the entire online reputation management process from start to finish.
Step 1: Deliver an excellent customer experience
The first step to gaining more positive reviews for your business is to ensure that your customer experience warrants that five-star rating. Focusing on outstanding customer service is the best way to create a positive impression, which can then be translated into a great online review.
Step 2: Be proactive about requesting reviews
We found that 70% of consumers who were asked to leave reviews for local businesses went on to do so. While some customers will take it upon themselves to leave a review for your business without being prompted, others won’t, so it’s important that you get into the habit of always requesting a review from your customers.
There are a number of ways you can do this:
Via email follow-ups
Make it a habit to ask for feedback at some point during all business transactions using the method that seems most appropriate for that particular client
Remember, you don’t need to have a cookie cutter approach, automating the request process is an option if you’re limited on time. One easy way to do this is to use link to add a review link to the footer of all emails or build a review request email into your transactional email machine. If you operate in a physical location, it’s good practice to ask your customers to leave you feedback immediately after their purchase. You can facilitate this process by having a tablet or other device available for review purposes in store near the point of sale.
Note: If you provide clients with a service, such as a beauty appointment, plumbing job, or hotel booking, add a trigger for a few days afterward so that an automatic email requesting a review from the customer.
Step 3: Be strategic
Keep in mind that simply asking for a review may not always get you the results you want. Building a review generation strategy that focuses on growing reviews requires thinking about the when, the why, the how, and the way that reviews are asked for.
A common mistake is to wait too long before you ask for a review. Reaching out to customers three months after you’ve done business with them isn’t likely to bring you much success. Ensure you are asking your customers for feedback immediately after the transaction or soon after in a follow-up email.
Step 4: Offer a variety of review platforms
Once you know how to ask for reviews and have a process in place to do just that, turn your attention to how those reviews are going to be physically gathered.
It’s critical here to offer a variety of review platforms. If you only have TripAdvisor set up, for example, or restrict customers to Facebook reviews and recommendations, the consumers that don’t have a Facebook account or aren’t familiar with the platform could be discouraged from leaving a review.
Having a variety of options on offer puts you in a much better position to accrue more online reviews. Once those accounts are established, create a dedicated page on your website that features links to your profiles on Yelp, Google and the other review sites. Include a message that prompts visitors to write a review using the platform of their choice, but bear in mind that the rules around soliciting reviews are different for each platform.
Step 5: Respond to reviews
The final piece of the puzzle actually lies in what you do after the review is received. Not only is the speed and frequency with which you reply to online reviews important, it also shows customers that their time and opinions are valued. Consumers are likely to feel more inclined to leave a review if they feel like their feedback is valued and listened to, so responding to reviews should be a critical part of your online review generation strategy.
Responding to negative reviews is just as important—if not more so—as acknowledging positive comments.
Quick Recap On Negative Reviews:
When you see a bad review about your company, the first thing you should do is stop, take a breath, and think. Don’t hastily respond to the ticked-off customer without thinking things through first. If you need to step away from your computer and walk around the block, do that. Anything to settle your emotions down. Never respond when you’re angry.
Look at the positive in the negative. If you get a bad review, really look at and carefully consider what the person wrote. Were they unhappy with a staff member? Did they have a bad experience at your location? Did your product/service not work like they expected? If you evaluate what the customer has said, you may discover bigger issues that you need to work on at your company.
Responding to complaints can help increase customer advocacy. Not responding to a negative online review decreases customer advocacy. Customers who receive a successful first-contact problem resolution are twice as likely to buy from you again and your showing the public that you care about your customers.
Responding to negative reviews also makes you stand out from your competitors. A lot of your competitors still won’t be paying attention to reviews, so customers (and potential customers) will remember the companies that do pay attention to what their customers think. That means they’ll remember you.
Fix The Problem! In some cases, depending on the situation, it may mean asking the customer to contact you by phone or to stop by your place of business so you can discuss the issue/problem in person.
Lastly, Take the debate offline!!! If you’ve received a negative review, remember that everything you say to that reviewer is out in the public for all to see. That means you don’t want to do battle with that customer online. The best way to handle these attention-seeking people is to take the discussion offline as soon as possible. Simply let the customer know you heard them and then ask them to call you personally so you can resolve the matter. Even if the person doesn’t call you back, anyone that sees that review discussion will at least see that you tried to rectify the situation. That goes a long way toward building trust with future customers.
Monitor reviews closely
It’s important that you know what customers are saying about your business online. Did someone leave a bad review about your company? Do you have 5-star reviews? What review sites do your customers use to leave reviews about you? Does a review look fake? Should it be removed?