Reviews Are Critical to Business Success – 4 Tips to Stay on Your Game

Image for Reviews Are Critical to Business Success – 4 Tips to Stay on Your Game

Reviews are everywhere whether you want to read them or not. With Google My Business prominently displaying reviews on business listings, businesses like Yelp increasing their influence, and social media testimonials and conversations happening all the time, you can’t get away from customer feedback. How can you harness the power of these powerful conversations to help your business?

Reviews and SEO

According to Moz’s Local Search Ranking Factors, search engines like reviews and include them as ranking factors. After all, reviews are:

  • Free user-generated content that shows your brand is relevant.
  • Great for search engine optimization (SEO) if you have dedicated space for them on your website.
  • New content that brings search engines back more often.

Plus, this type of published feedback is critical to be included in the top 3 of Google’s “local pack” results.

Customer Trust

Customers love reviews. A BrightLocal study reported that 86% of consumers read feedback for local businesses and 91% of people aged 18-34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. In order for your business to grow, you need your customers to share their positive experiences online.

Reviews are also a great way to convey your authenticity as a brand. What is brand authenticity? It’s how consumers believe a brand is being faithful, honest, and transparent to itself and its consumers. Consumers feel more invested in brands they perceive to be authentic. In fact, brand authenticity is so important to millennial consumers that only discounting plays a larger role in who they decide to purchase from. For better or worse, brand authenticity is extremely important thanks to current consumer behavior. Today’s prolific use of social media has changed how consumers interact with companies. In the past, companies simply making claims without consumers being able to discuss or verify them. But now there are endless ways for consumers to publicly interact with companies and among themselves. We’re free to share our thoughts and opinions, which means that call-out culture is extremely prevalent.

How can you gather more reviews?

Luckily, reviews are a great way showcase your authenticity and build an engaged and committed base of loyal customers. Here are our top tips for collecting more!

Tip #1: Be where your customers want to share

Make it easy for your customers to leave reviews by setting up profiles and/or claiming your business on multiple review sites. In addition to claiming your listing on Google My Business (which you should do no matter what), determine what other sites you should be on, whether it’s Yelp, Trip Advisor, Angie’s List, or others. Facebook is also non-negotiable, since it provides business info, reviews, customer interaction, and advertising options. You don’t need to be everywhere, and you probably shouldn’t be everywhere! Have a presence on a few sites that are relevant and that you’ll be able to maintain. Beware relying on a review service that has doesn’t align well with your customer demographics or one that has less marketing standing.

Additionally, you can set up a page on your website that is dedicated to reviews. A testimonials page is a great way to contain all the glowing praise you’ve received on various websites.

Tip #2: Make it easy for your customers

Once your review sites and social profiles are up and running, link to them! Include links on the footer of your website, in your email signature, and in your customer email blasts. Make sure that a customer can easily find their way to at least one of your review sites. You can also share testimonials you’ve received in order to make it more likely for other customers to leave their own reviews.

Tip #3: Actively ask your customers for feedback

Most of the time*, the best way to get a review is to ask for one! Ask your customers for a review after you complete a job, after they make a purchase, when you speak to them on the phone, or when you send a bill. Don’t wait – ask them while you’re still on their mind.

You should also consider setting up email blasts to request reviews. You can set up emails to send after a customer has made a purchase or used your service. You could also segment and personalize your customer lists so you only ask people with Gmail accounts to leave a Google review, for example. Make sure your email includes directions and a link to the site where you want the feedback.

And when you’ve started to receive reviews? Respond to them! Always engage with your customers’ reviews in a way that is personal and not generic. If a specific employee or product is called out in the customer feedback, make sure to mention it in your response.

*Yelp has strict policies about reviews. Don’t specifically ask for Yelp reviews. You CAN instruct customers to “Check us out on Yelp” and include the Yelp icon on your website.

Tip #4: Don't be afraid of negative reviews

No business owner likes receiving negative reviews but unfortunately, it’s inevitable that you’ll receive one or two. When the dreaded day comes that you get a bad review, don’t panic! Handling a negative experience with grace or even humor will elicit positive feelings and actions from your other customers. Studies have shown that negative reviews actually generate feelings of empathy and do not change people’s original perception of the company. This empathy may lead to more loyal customers or increased purchases. Did you receive a negative testimonial of your business or service? Here’s what to do:

Apologize sincerely. Everyone has bad days, whether it was your customer service rep or the reviewer. Your customer had a bad experience for whatever reason and you can apologize for that. Keep in short and sweet.
Don’t get defensive. It’s easy to second-guess the customer’s exact experience or play the blame-game. But the details of the incident don’t matter to anyone but you. A defensive recap of the situation won’t change the customer’s mind about the situation and prospective customers will view you negatively. (The BrightLocal survey mentioned above also found that 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews.)
Contact the customer with a freebie. After a short apology, ask to contact the customer to help make it right. Keep it vague if you want the exact details to be between you and the customer, or make an offer right in your response if you don’t mind others seeing it. Offering a free gift or 25% off can go a long way in not only retaining that customer but, more importantly, in showing prospective customers you care and are responsive.
Consider using humor. If a bad review is truly outlandish, use it to your advantage! For example, the Vienna Tourist Board launched a clever campaign in 2019 to suggest that ratings aren’t always correct by including low-rated reviews with images of Vienna’s famous attractions. In one, a beautiful image of the lawn in front of the Schönbrunn Palace has the caption “lawn is a mess” with a single star.