Your business is important to you and you may be wary about opening it up to online reviews. Take the leap. Online reviews are a great way to build trust with potential customers. Your customers will use reviews to decide if your products or services are the right fit, and they want to know how you will manage issues (if there are any). Let’s look at some of the benefits so you can make an informed decision for your business.
Online Reviews are Like Referrals
Studies on this topic vary, but most agree that well over 80% of customers use online reviews to help them decide who will get their business. The majority will also read the companies’ responses to a review. With this growing trend toward shopping online and booking services, expect reliance on reviews to increase in the coming years as well. Your business should not only allow reviews but should actively encourage your customers to review your products or services.
It’s Easy to Get Started with Online Customer Reviews
Getting your business on review sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, and TripAdvisor is an easy process. In most cases, it’s a simple matter of registering your business on the site. Most review sites make it just as easy for your customers to sign in using Facebook and other social media profiles.
Businesses should also have a presence on industry-specific review sites. For example, HomeStars is a hotspot online for home improvement professionals. If you’re not there, you’ve lost an opportunity to get new customers.
Search Engines Love Review Citations
If you’re trying to promote your business to local customers, it’s a must to be on Google My Business, whether you’re looking for reviews or not.
Having your business listed in online review sites is a form of local citation building which has an impact on your local pack and organic rankings. Those citations include a link back to your website which further helps with local SEO. Regardless of whether the backlink provided is a ‘nofollow’ or ‘dofollow’, these links can help your organic ranking. The SEO value may differ depending on the type of backlink, but the process to acquire them is very simple and there are no negative consequences with links back to your site from established and well known online review sites.
Managing Your Online Reviews
Respond to all reviews. It’s nice to acknowledge customers who take time to boost your company’s reputation. It’s also important to respond to negative reviews and follow up to resolve the situation that caused the problem.
Turn negatives into positives. As a business owner, you know not all clients are satisfied 100% of the time. It’s likely you will come across a negative review from time to time, and the way you address the situation is the difference between keeping or losing a customer. Since we know many people read responses to reviews, the way you respond to an unhappy customer can attract even more customers.
How to respond to negative online reviews:
- Respond as quickly as possible. The longer you let a situation fester, the harder it is to manage.
- Acknowledge the concern—let the reviewer know they’ve been heard.
- Keep your response polite and only address the issues with your business.
- Don’t get personal, even if the reviewer does, but do correct any inaccurate information.
- Make a genuine effort to resolve the complaint by asking the reviewer to contact you directly for a solution.
- Don’t stress. Everyone gets bad reviews and a perfect score can look fake. Remember that rectifying the situation can actually lead to the customer editing their review.
Be authentic. People don’t trust other people who lie or manipulate the truth. The same goes for businesses. Find a voice that aligns with your brand, and deal with customers openly and honestly.
Be proactive. The best way to avoid a negative review is to prevent it. Accurate company information, clear policies and great customer service are your frontline defences.
Make review management a priority. If you don’t have time to manage and respond to your reviews, there are companies you can hire that will do the bulk of the work, while helping you manage your business reputation.
Online Review Management Tools
Online review management tools can simplify the process of asking customers for a review. There are several online review tools on the market, including our very own Review Builder platform. Simply upload your customer contact information to send out an email asking customers to rate their experience with your business and provide a review, using the links to the online review platforms you’ve selected. There are also options to customize the review process. To add this service to an ongoing contract, or to learn more about this service, contact Bluetrain today.
Real vs. Fake Customer Reviews
With the anonymity provided by the Internet, fake reviews are a valid concern—both in favour of and against your business.
Some business owners have purchased good reviews or asked friends or employees to write positive reviews to outnumber any negative comments. Simply put, don’t do it. These types of reviews do not appear authentic and customers will question your credibility. Good reviews will happen in time if you offer a quality customer experience.
On the other side, a competitor, a disgruntled former employee, or even a dissatisfied customer could post a false negative review of your business. Investigate all claims, and if you believe you are subject to a fake review, report it to the review platform (Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.). Each review platform has its own policies for removing a review, so be sure you understand what you can and can’t report. If you’re unable to have the review removed, respond to it objectively by providing the facts.
Ready to be Reviewed?
Let your customers know you want their opinion by providing links to your review site profiles. You can provide links through customer emails, purchase receipts, websites and social media to ask your existing, loyal customer base to get the reviews started.
Online reviews do require a small investment of time to set up and manage. But the ROI will be increased foot traffic and an edge over your competition. If you need help getting started, contact Bluetrain, and let our digital experts guide you.
This blog was originally published in July 2013 and was updated in May 2019.