Improving your online reputation and getting more online reviews is one of the most efficient and effective ways to take your business to the next level. Read on to find out how easy it is to do.
Maybe a bad employee left some customers dissatisfied, or you've had some kinks in your operation that affected your service.
Maybe you're just unlucky and your many satisfied customers haven't taken the time to write reviews.
Whatever the reason, receiving a string of negative or mediocre reviews (or no reviews at all!) is bad for morale and bad for your bottom line.
Improving your online reputation can attract new customers and keep your existing customers coming back, and it's surprisingly easy to do.
Why Online Reviews Matter
Reading rave reviews about your business is definitely a powerful ego booster, but the importance of these reviews goes far beyond that.
Research shows that customers put a ton of trust in online reviews. In a recent survey, 91% of respondents said that they occasionally or regularly read reviews when comparing businesses.
No matter what industry you're in, your customers are relying on the feedback that your previous customers have given you. And if your reviews skew negative, some people will inevitably go looking for your competition instead.
Online reviews have been proven to significantly contribute to a business's profitability because they directly influences the purchasing decisions of other consumers. In other words, your product or service has a better chance of selling if more people know about it and can potentially leave a positive review.
There’s a little bit of psychology in it, too. Consumers are more likely to purchase something based on the sentiment of others because it makes them feel safer with their decision. It establishes customer trust.
When someone buys something and doesn't like it, they'll express their bad experience or dissatisfaction by writing a bad review, and when someone enjoys a product, they'll likely write a positive one. This is how online reviews can really affect your business's image and bottom line by influencing purchase decisions.
What You Can Do - How To Improve Your Online Reviews
Ready to turn your online reputation around?
Follow these three steps to change the conversation about your business - fast.
1. Evaluate Your Customers' Experience
The best way to generate positive reviews? Make sure you're giving customers a positive experience. Do that, and your online reputation will reflect it.
First, take a good look all of your recent online feedback. Look for common complaints, and take them seriously. Do multiple people mention rude service, long waits, or high prices? It might be helpful to ask a coworker to read through the reviews too, so you can compare notes and identify a few areas for improvement together.
If you don't have many online reviews, or if the reviews you do have don't give you any ideas for actionable changes, reach out to customers directly. Ask repeat visitors for honest feedback about what you could do better.
Another approach is to ask for feedback at the end of every customer interaction. Questions like "Is there anything else we can do today to help you?" or "How has your service been today?" can yield useful insights. You'll be surprised how honest questions yield honest answers from your customers. Train your employees to ask these questions as well. When customers see that you really care, they're willing to share.
2. Ask for Reviews
Getting reviews is often as simple as asking customers for reviews. More customers than you think will happily write a review when asked to do so.
You can make this request at the end of every customer interaction. Based on the feedback the customer gives you, it's easy to determine if they're happy with the experience.
- If the customer is satisfied, saying something like, "I'm so happy to hear it. Customer service means everything to us. We'd love it if you would write us a review on Yelp or Facebook." (Which review sites you mention will vary, depending on what type of business you're in and which sites you're targeting.)
- If the customer is dissatisfied, try to find a way to address their complaints. If you can't do that - for instance, if the person is angry about something you can't control - sincerely apologize or express your empathy with a comment such as "I'm sorry - I'd be frustrated if that happened to me too." At the very least, making the person feel heard can keep them from turning to an online review site to complain.
3. Create a Google My Business Page
If you're not already using Google My Business, take the time to set up your page. It's free and easy, just follow these steps:
- Go to your Google My Business website, sign in with an existing Gmail account, and enter your business name and information.
- Verify that your business information is accurate, so Google can properly list you in search rankings.
- If your page isn't automatically populated with a lot of great photos and info that Google has collected from other sources, add more relevant details. This will help customers learn more about the services you offer and how they can contact you. It will also help with search engine optimization.
- Promote your Google My Business page on your other marketing materials, like business cards and direct mail.
Customers won't be able to leave Google reviews without first visiting your page. Make it easy for them by asking customers to check you out online when they're in the store or ready to sign up for a service. This will help you get more online ratings.
It’s generally a good idea to be active on at least 2 or 3 other review sites as well, the next most popular options being Facebook and Yelp. These reviews are some of the first things your customers will see when they search your business.
Other industry-specific sites, such as TripAdvisor for hotels and Angi (formerly Angie's List) for contractors, might be appropriate for you as well.
There are a lot of specialist and niche-specific review sites out there, so ensure you look into them all. If you want to know if a site is worth it for your business, look to see if your direct competitors are using it.
4. Start Getting Online Reviews From Customers
When people are ready to write about their experiences, make sure that they know exactly how to do it.
- Put up signs in your office or storefront that tell people where to find you on Google and other review sites like Yelp and Facebook.
- Post a link to your review profile page on your website and social media. Online presence is important for this since you can take advantage of business profiles or social profiles.
- Considering offering an incentive to customers who leave reviews. Incentives don't have to be expensive, you could offer a discount on their next service or a small gift as a token of appreciation. It’s important that you offer the same incentive to all customers, regardless of if their review is positive, neutral, or negative.
5. Monitor Your Online Reviews
It's important to keep an eye on your online customer reviews and respond if necessary, especially since some platforms give users the option to delete their comments and revise them later. Keep the response time prompt.
- You can also flag reviews if you think they violate your company's guidelines, so that site administrators can take a look.
- If you get an occasional negative review, don't panic! These things happen and it doesn't mean people hate you. Every business has at least a few dissatisfied customers.
- Respond to reviews regularly and let your customers know that you care about the feedback they give you, even if it isn't all good.
- If a review leaves you particularly upset or confused, try calling the customer directly to clear things up. One-star reviews from an upset customer show that they had a terrible experience, and it’s good to find out what it was.
Getting more reviews (yes, even negative ones on occasion) is an easy way to improve your online reputation and keep your customers coming back.
6. Systemize Your Approach
Earning positive reviews isn't a temporary strategy to improving business.
Attracting a steady stream of positive reviews is essential to success, because customers are most interested in recent reviews. To most potential customers, the reviews that you get today will be obsolete in three or six months.
Keeping the reviews coming is also important because even when you provide great service, you'll probably still get a few negative ones occasionally. When they're dramatically outnumbered by raves, they won't seem as important to prospective customers.
While the process of improving your reviews is pretty straight forward, it's still time consuming if you do it manually.
Consider using an automated system like ReputationStacker to do the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is provide an email address or phone number for your customers, and ReputationStacker contacts them with a one-question survey. Happy customers are funneled to the review site of your choice where they can post a positive review, while dissatisfied customers are sent back to you so you can address their complaints.
An Easy Solution to Get More Reviews
What customers say about you online can have a direct and powerful effect on the success of your business. You have the ability to earn positive reviews in a simple and ethical way, starting today. You have all the tips on how to improve your online reviews.
Analyze the criticism that you've previously received to find ways to make easy improvements to your service. Once you're confident that you're giving your customers a good experience, ask them for feedback after every interaction, and follow that request by asking happy customers to write you online reviews.
Make sure you're getting a steady stream of positive reviews using an automated system like ReputationStacker.