Online reviews can be a double-edged sword. They are great when they’re in your business’s favor but they can also be terrible when they aren’t. However, It doesn’t have to be this way. You can take advantage of every type of review and put it to work in your favor.
Want to know how? Let’s start from here.
It would be an understatement to say that Google is a colossus in the online space. It is actually the colossus! And this includes everything from ranking websites to online advertisements, as well as impacting how well your business performs through reviews and other metrics. This is because the very first thing most people do when they’re looking for something is to turn to the search engine giant.
So, what can you do to actually put Google to work for you? Glad you asked… 🙂
1. Offer great customer service.
As indicated in the review report (linked above), Google commands the lion’s share of being the place consumers turn to when they want to read and write reviews. At 60%, more consumers are likely to turn to Google to write reviews when they receive great customer service. They also look to Google when investigating businesses, and especially local service companies.
So your top business priority has to be to offer outstanding products and services to customers. If you don’t make this your driving work ethic, you simply won’t get the great reviews that you could. And in today’s world, customer service is huge. It’s every bit as important as producing a good product and presenting it well via your website and other media.
2. Ask customers directly.
Rather than beat around the bush, go directly to the heart of the matter. You can casually slip your request in after you’re done offering your services and simply tell them that you’d like to know what they think about your service. Then offer to send them a link to your Google reviews, or offer them a card with the link printed on it. The key is to make it as easy as possible for them to offer their review.
If you make it easy, most customers who are pleased with your service will be glad to give you a positive review.
3. A follow-up wouldn’t hurt.
It’s normal for businesses to send emails sometime after they’ve completed a service for a customer. In this follow-up email, you could slip in your request for a Google review. Ensure the email is personal and friendly. Be sure to thank them for choosing you and tell them that you would appreciate their feedback. Once again, provide them a direct link for submitting your Google review.
A highly effective form of follow-up is to leave behind a care package for your customer if you perform a service in their home. Otherwise you can mail it out to them a little later. The package could include a token gift (such as a coupon to a local restaurant or coffee shop), instructions on maintaining their new product, contact details with which they can reach you, a Google review card, and a note thanking them for choosing you and requesting their feedback on your services.
Many service businesses are now sending out text messages to customers upon completion of a service performed, asking them to leave a review. This is a very effective practice for those in service industries.
What else could you do?
1. Always get your best customers to review you.
Who better to give accurate information about your business and services? Pinpoint your best customers and ask them to review you. And it’s best to ask when they’re still excited about your services. You can go even further to ask them if you can also post their reviews on your website.
2. Figure out your other best options.
Yes, Google may be the dominant player on the block, but there are other important review sites that can also help (or hinder) your business. If you’re a small business that interacts directly with the customer, then you’ll also want to get listed on Yelp. And your Facebook business page–um, you do have a Facebook business page, right?–is also a great source for asking for reviews and displaying them. Plus, there are a lot of industry-specific sites where you can leverage reviews.
Claim Your Business NAP Directory Listings
It is a good practice to seek out and claim your business listings offered by the best business review sites for your niche market. The best way to do this is with a citation audit.
There is quite a number of directory websites and some of these sites will find and list your website over time, linking to your homepage. And these links are generally referred to as citations. They are very important to the overall SEO performance and vitality of your website in search results. So it’s a good idea to make sure your business’s listing is claimed and that your Name, Address, and Phone number (referred to as NAP in SEO language) is correct. Over time, you can collect reviews you never expected from some of these directories.
The outcome you want is to have positive reviews on many different sites. In this way, customers will get reliable info from a lot of sources, thus building confidence in your brand and services. And in addition, your business is viewed by search engines as being popular, so you will be better promoted in user searches for your services.
3. Negative reviews, positive responses
In the business world of today, your online reputation is a major part of your company’s value. How a customer perceives your brand will color how they review you. Even if they had a bad experience and post it in a review, that’s really okay. Simply follow up by using positive language and offer an alternative, seeking to work the situation out. By using positive language and an understanding tone, you can actually turn a negative review to work for you. And furthermore, it will even make your business appear more authentic. Plus, it will allow your potential customers to get a broader view of who you are if they are allowed to watch you navigate the turbulence of an obtuse and contrary customer.
So to sum it all up, it’s an excellent idea to acknowledge and answer your reviews. It demonstrates that your company respects and cares about your customers.
And when it comes to customer feedback, the blunder made by some companies is to simply ignore social reviews. On the other hand, to be proactive you really need to participate in shaping the online conversation, and thereby the perception, regarding your company.
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