We look at the tools you can use to get more online reviews from your customers, and how that can take your business to the next level.
Your business is perfect. Your customers are satisfied, your employees are competent, your profits are robust, the bathroom never runs out of toilet paper, a drone delivers a gourmet lunch at exactly noon each day, your dedicated masseuse is always on hand to rub your shoulders - hey, is that Tom Hanks working in the next cubicle?
Nope, you're dreaming. Because no matter how well your business is doing, it's not perfect. You can always improve. Making those improvements isn't easy, though. Hiring a consultant or doing extensive renovations is expensive. And what if changing one thing actually makes two other things worse?
The Road Map to Success
No matter what type of improvements your business needs, online reviews can help you achieve them. Posts on sites like Yelp and Google have tremendous influence over your customers.
That may be hard to believe when you think about the reviews you've seen that say things like, "Food was okay, parking lot was weird." But the research is clear: most of us use online reviews to help us make decisions about where we spend money.
Take a recent survey, which is an extensive bit of research into the way reviews affect shopping habits. The survey found that 97 percent of American consumers read online reviews for local businesses at least occasionally, while 12 percent of people surveyed said they read reviews every day.
The survey revealed a lot about the way people use reviews:
- 85 percent of respondents said that they trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
- 63 percent of people surveyed said they have written a positive review for a local business.
- 73 percent of respondents said that they trust a business more after reading positive reviews, while 50 percent trust a business less after reading negative reviews.
- People surveyed read an average of 7 reviews before making up their mind about whether to trust a business.
- 77 percent of respondents consider only the most recent three months' worth of reviews relevant.
And here's what that means for you:
- Your customers read online reviews, and most of them are willing to write their own reviews for businesses they like.
- What they read in those reviews will affect the way most of your customers (and potential customers) think about you.
- You need to get at least 7 positive reviews in every 3-month period ...on each of the major review sites. Ideally, though, you'll get many more.
For most businesses, getting reviews on the "big three" sites (Yelp, Google and Facebook) is the most important. Depending on your industry, your customers may also be looking at reviews on niche sites. For example, if you're a contractor you should aim to get reviews on Angie's List. Restaurateurs should target sites like TripAdvisor.
What Reviews Can Tell You
So that's what research tells you about online reviews. But the information you need to actually improve your business comes from the text of those reviews. Reading what your customers have to say is an easy and effective way of diagnosing any flaws in your business and maximizing the things you do well.
Say that your recent Yelp reviews all praise the extra effort a few employees always put into their work. Going forward, train the rest of your staff about how to emulate that behavior, or set up a reward system that's geared to give perks to employees you "catch" going above and beyond.
Conversely, your reviews can highlight issues that you didn't realize were issues. Maybe you'll notice that customers often have bad experiences at certain times of day and that you need to adjust your staffing levels during those times. Some of your reviewers will compare your services to that of your competitors, giving you valuable insight into how you can outperform them.
How to Get Them
Theoretically, you could personally ask each customer to write you a review. Emailing, calling or texting them are options too. But holy awkwardness, Batman! These methods are also super time-consuming.
Systemizing how to get more reviews makes more sense. Once your system is up and running, getting more of those essential reviews takes no time at all. You're trying to grow and improve your business, so spending hours each day trying to get and monitor your reviews is a bad use of your time.
With ReputationStacker, getting a steady stream of reviews requires you to do exactly two things: give your customers a positive experience, then enter their email address or phone number into the ReputationStacker system. That's it. From there it reaches out to your customers with a one-question survey, identifying those customers who are likely to give you a positive review and directing them to the review sites of your choice.
Once those reviews come rolling in, you don't have to worry about refreshing your Yelp page every hour. ReputationStacker also provides powerful tools like Review Monitoring that automatically pull all your reviews into one convenient dashboard and alerts you whenever a new review comes in.
The system also allows you to automatically stream your best reviews on your own website and social media feeds so that you can leverage what your happy customers are saying to spread the word.
The Final Word on the First Step
Every business can be better. Making improvements shows your customers that you want to give them the best experience you can, and making that effort goes a long way toward earning your customers' loyalty.
To find out what you need to improve, ask the experts: your customers. Using an automated system like ReputationStacker, getting more online reviews takes just minutes per day - leaving you more time to focus on your business.
Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.