Every business owner knows that online customer reviews are very influential. With people sharing their user experience from Yelp to Google Review, Trustpilot to Angie’s List, the sales fortunes of business are now largely impacted by the views of past customers.
For every kind of business, online reputation is key to success. And a major part of that success is being able to generate positive and significant online reviews about your company and its service offerings.
In fact, so vital is online reviews that Google Review can have a bigger impact on your business than Google Ad. According to a Zendesk research, 90% of shoppers say their buying decisions were influenced by positive online reviews, while 86% of the respondents claim their buying decisions were influenced by negative reviews.
Put succinctly, a company’s ability to generate online reviews can determine its success or failure in the marketplace. It also means a company or its product’s brand value is now more or less defined by people who have experienced it.
Most businesses are wary of online reviews because they scared about the possibility of getting one or two bad reviews. But the best way to combat a few negative customer opinions is to work at getting more positive reviews. Basically, this means you need to focus on delivering more quality offerings and keeping more customers happy. Then ask your satisfied customers to take the time to write about their experiences.
Here are 10 strategic ways to get more favourable business reviews online:
Set up profiles on review sites popular with your customers
Think about all the reviews sites relevant to your business and set up profiles on them: From Google Local to Yelp, Yahoo Local to Angie’s Lists, CitySearch to TripAdvisor, LinkedIn to Trustpilot. Note that reviews sites like Google can influence your SEO ranking; and your business reviews on sites like Facebook, Trustpilot and Yelp can show in search results.
Even if you don’t consider your niche market review-driven like is the case with the hospitality and restaurant industries, you will still find general review sites like Trustpilot and TrustLink very useful.
Request your customers to write reviews
Simply asking your customers could be your simplest and most effective strategy to boost your business online reviews. Your customers understand reviews are important to your business, and as long as they get great product quality and customer service from you, they’d be happy to leave a review for your business if you request it. But don’t dawdle; shoppers are likely to only provide you a feedback right away.
When next a customer calls, emails or tells you in person to say something nice about your product or service, seize the opportunity to gently request them to also give you an online review on the popular sites like Yelp or Trustpilot or their preferred review site.
Make it easy for your customers to post reviews
Except they’re angry about your product or service and want to share their negative experience, the average shopper will not bother looking for where to post a review for your company. That is why you need to give them the right nudge; not just by asking, but also by making it very easy to write and submit a review. One of the ways to simplify the process for them is to make it mobile, so they can share their experience on the go.
Generally, people are more willing to contribute content online when you take out all the hassles that could slow them, like having to click several pages or needing to log in to post a review. Simplifying the review writing process for your customers is by far the most important step to getting more business reviews online.
Know the right time and right way to ask
According to research, there’s a psychology to when a customer would respond more favourably to your request for a review and when they are likely to actually write it. Data shows that review posts spike by 20% between 1 and 3 pm. This is probably because that is generally the time workers go on break, take lunch and are more relaxed when they return to their desks and emails.
Incentivize your customers to post a review online
Offer an incentive as the last resort and make sure to do it ethically. Most customers will be happy to write a review without a push, but more people are likely to be motivated to do so when you promise them a reward in return. Freebies, discounts and coupons are good incentives to your customers to want to write a review for your business, but only ask them to give a review and not insist on a positive review.
Sometimes, even your happiest customers will consider writing a review a chore and would need some extra incentives to take time out of their busy schedule to share their customer experience online. Offering them a small reward for their time can also be a good way to express your appreciation. Just make sure you’re ethical about it by offering a discount or voucher for writing a review, and not for writing a good review. You can take it a few notches higher by offering a double incentive, like a discount and a coupon — one for writing a review and the other one for sharing it on social networks.
Educate your customers on how to leave a review
Most customers know how much good reviews mean for the success of businesses today, but there are some who can’t figure out the correlation. Create an online video or a banner on your website and physical store educating customers on how to provide feedback on their user experience and where they can post it.
Provide a personal touch
Automation is the fad in online marketing, but avoid using it if it’s not necessary. Instead, send a personal email requesting for a review. A lot of customers still value a personal touch, and feel it’s often missing in online transactions.
Offer quick reminders
Slip in a review instruction note in your orders. It’s a good time to ask your customer for a user feedback. He or she will likely respond positively immediately after receiving their order at the point and time expected, or even earlier.
Utilize an online review management tool or app
An effective online review software can help boost your company or product review figures, manage reviews and give instant notifications for every new review online. It’s best to use a review tool that can also be downloaded as an app on mobile, as these types of software can make your review completion rate jump to 15 times higher than conventional email-based requests. This is because the average Smartphone user checks his or her phone 110 times a day, compared to just 15 times they to check emails daily.
Although review tools that are mobile devices-based are a passive way of generating customer reviews in contrast to a direct invite via email, they simplify the process for the customer and therefore get more response.
The bottom line is that an effective review management software is a sure way to boost your company or product review online, with a good ROI if you commit to using the tool.
Get professional help
Is the business reviews online subject a bit new to you or difficult to wrap your head around it? No problem. Just outsource the solution by getting professional who can help study your customers, get the necessary data and contact them to boost your positive business reviews online.
What’s the Right Way to Deal with Negative Reviews
The downside of requesting customers to write an online review of your business or product is that they could provide a negative feedback.
That’s absolutely normal, as you can’t expect that everyone would be happy with your service or product quality, no matter how hard you try. So, don’t let the possibility of receiving negative reviews scare you. Consider them a helpful feedback to improve on the quality and delivery of your service.
But when you get a negative review, do you just fold your arms and act like it isn’t there? Doing or saying nothing or even taking too long to respond could come back to hurt you and your business.
So, what’s the right way to deal with negative reviews?
The first thing you should do is to listen carefully and attentively to what the customer is saying in the review. Keep an open and objective mind about the review. Put aside your emotions and see if there are truths in the angry review.
Of course, that’s a tough thing to do, but it’s necessary if you hope to have long term success as a business owner. Reading a negative review with an open, objective mind could help provide you insight about something you need to address with your offering or business.
If you chose to ignore the points raised in the negative review, the consequence could be what you’d never anticipated: More negative reviews hammering on the same point. That hurts, right?
The result is that your attempts to generate more business reviews online will simply produce a bunch of angry reviews, which can be harmful to your business especially if your target market often likes to read reviews before making a buying decision.
Second, acknowledge the comments of the reviewer and let the writer know that you’re doing something about their complaint. While at it, make sure to avoid arguing with the customer, even if you disagree with their comments. Doing so may make a bad situation worse and could irreparably damage the online reputation of your business.
Maintain a professional and objective posture. According to data, 67% of customers rated customer service interaction bad because the company representative they were dealing with was cold and unfriendly.
It’s recommended to respond to the negative review in the same place it was left rather than sending the complaining customer a private email. This tells a prospective consumer that your company is proactive and eager to correct negative experiences with your customers.
Generally follow this guideline when dealing with a negative review:
- Listen: Allow the customer to state their grudges without interrupting them. Sometimes, we just want to know someone is listening to us.
- Show empathy: Let the customer see and feel that you understand and are concerned about their complaint.
- Apologise: Even if you’re not entirely or directly responsible for what upset the customer, make an apology and be sincere about it; at least since your brand is involved in some way.
- Fix the problem: Solve the issue right away and let the customer know you or someone in the organisation is working on it. Give the initiative to the customer by asking them if there’s anything specific they’d want in solving the problem.
- Investigate: Find out internally why the problem occurred in the first place, without necessarily holding anyone responsible. Your focus should be on fixing the process, so it doesn’t reoccur.
Stating in the comment or reply box that you or a qualified member of your team is fixing the issue the customer complained about gives prospective customer confidence about your brand and communicates it as responsive, caring and customer friendly.
Excellent customer service is one of the most valued areas of a company culture; and will boost brand trust in the target audience, and consequently the sales volume.
First, you should determine how important online reviews are for your business, and then decide on the steps to take to trigger more rave reviews for your product and brand. Business reviews online are arguably the powerful yet cost effective marketing tools for small businesses today that could make or mar their fortunes in the marketplace.
Getting more business reviews online may look like a difficult task; the truth is it can be easy, seamless and effective if the right strategies are adopted and it is anchored by a qualified professional. Sign up here to get your business reviews online project done to your complete satisfaction.