Small business owners used word of mouth to drive sales in the past. Word of mouth was most important for businesses that had been running for many years, particularly. Their family would spread information through their personal network. Those friends would tell their personal network, and so forth. Some business owners, especially ones who have been in business for a very long time, may wonder what the importance of online reviews is.
“Anyone can go online and post something negative!”, some of them may say.
The fact is, more users are relying on online review sites to determine whether or not they will use a business.
According to a study by ReviewTrackers:
- 62.7 percent of consumers believe that online reviews are “important” or “very important” when choosing a local business.
- Over 50 percent of consumers often or always check out online reviews.
As you can see, even if most of your business comes from word of mouth, a bad review can affect your business. A customer might hear about your company through word of mouth, read reviews about your business and then decide to not make a purchase. However, there are some small business owners who think that this is not within their control. This is not true. You do have control over who is leaving you a review and when. We are going to list some steps you can take to have more control over your reviews.
The first step is to understand from where and when your customers are leaving reviews. Some reviewers may be more likely to use websites like Yelp or Facebook to leave reviews. Examples are service based businesses like plumbing, landscaping, and painters. For services that require extensive licensing or a high level of expertise, users typically look for reviews on specialized review sites. An example of these are HomeAdvisor, Justia and Avvo.
One of the most important review sites is Google My Business. Google shows reviews of your business when users look for you or for services that your business provides. On mobile devices, Google uses information from GMB to determine which local businesses to show to users. Local result blocks are shown to users before organic results, so you can see that not utilizing GMB can cause you to miss out on search visibility.
Users usually leave reviews online via a website or email. Users are more likely to leave reviews when they had a bad experience then when they had a good one, so it is important to encourage customers who had a good experience to leave a review.
For Google My Business, you can ask customers for reviews easily.
This article will outline:
- How to get more customer reviews by using a Google review link
- General tips for getting reviews
- Tips on managing reviews
How to Create a Google Review Link
- Navigate to the Google Places API.
- Type your business name into the field at the top of the map, shown in the screenshot above.
- Select your business name from the list that appears.
- Your place ID will appear in a box on the map, below your business name. Copy this.
- Insert the place ID in this URL by removing the bold section and replacing it with what you copied: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=<place_id>
You can direct users to this link from now on.
Other than GMB, there are some other review sites that you might want to claim or set up profiles on. Some sites are Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, and YellowPages. Here are some general tips for getting reviews:
General Tips for Getting Reviews
TIP 1: It may and may not be a good idea offer incentives for users to leave reviews. Websites like Yelp discourage paid reviews and encourage community engagement. If your customers are using these types of sites more often, offering review incentives may not be a good idea. Some websites have had success with offering monthly giveaways to reviewers but keep in mind that you can’t force customers to leave a positive review.
TIP 2: Try to encourage customers to leave a review when the experience is fresh in their mind. When a service is complete, send review cards promptly. Don’t wait weeks after the service date to send them.
TIP 3: Send reminder emails to customers, encouraging them to leave feedback and where.
TIP 4: Keep in mind what review sites will benefit you the most and tailor your requests when interacting with customers. There are “Find us on Yelp” stickers and website images available. If you are a home service professional, direct customers to review you on Home Advisor or Facebook.
TIP 5: Make it easy for customers to leave reviews. Put links to review sites in multiple places so users are encouraged to leave a review and do not have to search for a review site. In addition, this encourages users to leave feedback on sites that are most relevant to your industry.
Once you have encouraged customers to leave reviews, you may be wondering what to do if someone leaves an unfavorable one. It is better to address a bad review then to leave it unanswered. Here are some tips on managing reviews:
Tips on Managing Reviews
TIP 1: Make sure that the review is from a qualified source. Some reviews are machine generated or spam reviews. Spam reviews will read as gibberish, not be applicable to your business, or not make any sense. If this is the case, try to get the review taken down or hidden. Very detailed, well-written reviews are most likely real reviews and should be addressed. Do not hide legitimate negative reviews, this makes it seem like you do not care about customer service.
TIP 2: Address the reviewers’ complaints. Do not use hostile or negative language towards the reviewer as other people can read this and it will reflect badly on your business. Try to have a conversation in a private communication space like a one on one message, if possible.
TIP 3: Offer to make the situation right for the customer by offering a discount. Some customers cannot be satisfied or made less angry, and others can. Some customers would even be willing to write a follow-up review praising your reaction to their issue. Ask them if they would be willing to write a follow-up review of your company if they seem pleased with your reaction to the issue. Customers are more likely to use your business if they can see that you care about customers, even if the customer complained.
TIP 4: Thank customers for compliments and show them that their good reviews are appreciated.
In conclusion, the earlier you take control of your online reputation, the better off you will be. Customers rely heavily on online word of mouth to decide where to spend their money. The web has made it easier for businesses to promote themselves and as such, businesses with good reviews will always attract more business than ones without. Hopefully, this article is a starting point for you on how to get more customer reviews.