Building your business and expanding your customer base has always been about connections, word of mouth recommendations and referrals. In today’s digital world, this is now more important than ever before, when what people read about your business online will influence their decision on whether to shop with you or your competitors.
Consumers are now more and more interested in hearing real experiences of people who have actually used your business, so when they search for you online, a review is often the deciding factor in whether they choose to visit you or go elsewhere. Yell.com reports that 73% of consumers are more likely to choose a business that has online reviews compared to a business that has none.
And reviews are also a numbers game. Shoppers aren’t just looking for one good review – they expect to find recent feedback from multiple customers to give them confidence that the opinions are genuine.
This means that every business – whatever the size – will benefit from a proactive approach to online review collection and management. To make reviews really work for you, your business will need a strategy to gather feedback from customers, as well as a policy on responding to them – whether positive or negative.
How to get started
The first step to reviews is to ensure that your business has a strong presence on the websites where potential customers and reviewers might expect to find your business reviewed online. Platforms available include Yell.com, Google and Trustpilot, which are all free for a business to set up a profile.
Google My Business is a great option to choose as one of your review platforms. It will serve to give your business prominence in its search engine results – in its Maps results for local searches and also in the Knowledge Panel.
Asking for reviews
The key to building up a number of reviews is asking for them at the right time. This might be a link included on the receipt, an email to your customer base (if you have taken their details for your CRM) or simply a post on social media to get you started. Once you have established your reviews platform, asking for them should become a natural part of your sales process. Try out a few different methods so that you find the one that works best for your business.
Responding to reviews
The most important thing to remember when responding to customer reviews is to always be professional. You should respond whether they are positive or negative – see this as an opportunity to demonstrate your excellent customer service.
You can set up alerts or just regularly check your reviews platform for new posts. For each post think about the following:
- Always thank the user for their review (irrespective of the star rating).
- Be personable and refer to the reviewer by their name.
- If they have some nice things to say about staff members, say that you’ll let those staff members know (and then do so!)
- If the review is negative, try to identify where a mistake has taken place and apologise. Aim to resolve the issue by offering solutions publicly.
- Never just delete or report a bad review. Everyone’s opinion is valid and deserving of attention. Showing that you can handle a negative review with a professional solution is important to customers – they trust listings with a range of reviews rather than with just 5-star reviews.
- If you have a public disagreement on events, try to take the discussion offline. If you know who the customer is, take the initiative of calling or emailing them directly in order to resolve their issues. If you don’t have the customer’s details, then ask the user to contact you directly.
- If you doubt the authenticity of the review, you can normally report it to your chosen review platform, and they will investigate.
- Above all else, remember your response is public, so always respond professionally.
How to promote your reviews
Once you’ve earned some positive reviews for your business, you can use them as a key marketing tool. This will in turn encourage more customers to leave reviews. Think about where you can promote them to market your business. Here are some ideas:
- Your website is your virtual storefront – where better to showcase your reviews to potential customers? Adding a “Testimonials” page on your site is a good idea, but you could also showcase them on your home page, contact page and more, or in a banner in the footer of your website to ensure they are prominent for shoppers.
- Social media is a great place to share your most glowing reviews. If the reviewer is happy to be identified, you can also tag their social media handle in the post – a great way to show that your review has come from a genuine customer.
- Promotional videos work well, especially for newly engaged couples, for example. A happy customer singing your praises on video is incredibly valuable and brings the feedback to life.
- Online review content can also be used in offline print media as well as business cards. Magazine ads, leaflets and brochures can be quite impersonal, so including reviews or your star rating provides valuable proof of genuine customer satisfaction. Many review platforms provide free downloadable logos for you to use in this way.