When customers want to learn more about your business, review sites are one of the places they go. And it isn’t limited to hotels and restaurants! From physicians and plumbers to bookkeepers and attorneys, review sites and social platforms like Yelp, Facebook and Google offer a way for prospects to get the inside scoop about your business from those in the know – your current or past customers.
Like testimonials, online reviews from customers can give prospects a sense of security, improve your credibility, bring out attributes you don’t always promote and provide content for your marketing. As a result, they can drive more sales to your business.
But did you also know that online reviews can help improve your organic search rankings in Google? They can if you keep the following in mind:
- Normal Frequency. Are customers, clients or patients writing reviews on a regular basis or are there long time gaps between reviews. Getting new reviews throughout the year is important.
- Timeliness. How old is your last review – six months, one year, more? Recent reviews are more heavily weighted than older ones.
- Opinions. While not totally scientific, Google can measure positive versus negative feedback – and gives more credit to positive reviews.
To Get More Online Reviews – ASK
The best way to increase the number of online reviews is to ASK your customers. Many of your loyal customers will be happy to help you grow your business – you simply need to make it easy for them to do so. Here are a few ways my clients have used to get customer feedback and reviews:
- If you do after-sale feedback surveys, follow-up your conversation with a thank you email and request they write a review. Always include the link to the site — for example, your Google My Business URL.
- Create a biz-card with a request for review and URL link (or instructions) to give to customers or patients at check-out. This is helpful for retail or medical practices.
- If you leave an invoice at a customer’s home or business when service is completed, include a brief comment/request for an online review with the supporting URL. Mention this to the customer so the comment is simply a reminder.
So what is the downside of online reviews? The one I hear most is fear that a disgruntled employee or customer will write something damaging or vindictive.
Protect Your Reputation
While there is always the risk of not-so-good reviews, there are a few things you can do to make sure the positives outweigh the negatives – and protect your reputation.
Make service and quality a priority. Happy customers write positive reviews. Go back and look at any negative reviews, customer complaints or feedback surveys to identify the gaps or issues. Common ones include scheduling or late arrivals, long waits, re-doing the work (poor quality), lack of response, and multiple people or conversations required to resolve an issue. By improving the business, you will improve the reviews.
Be accessible. A bad buying experience can often be resolved with a conversation if you are available to them. How can people contact you by phone or email? Are your contact information included on your website and social media sites? Are your online business listings accurate? Even the best businesses make mistakes. Be professional and apologetic – and you may actually turn an unhappy customer into a happy one!
Monitor Your Reputation. Keeping track of what is said about your business (or key personnel) is important. Google Alerts makes it easy. Simply set up an alert using your company name and one for yourself and key people. Once set up, Google will notify you when these appear on the web.
Keep It Honest
Fake reviews or paying for reviews to build up the number is fraudulent and deceptive. Like any false advertising, it is subject to fines and removal from ALL review sites. More important, word of such deceitful actions can ruin your credibility in the market.
Build your online reviews with integrity. Ask your customers and make it easy for them — and you will reap the benefits.
More Ideas to Grow Your Business
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