Online reviews have become a guiding force in how consumers and B2B buyers alike decide where to buy. A whopping 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and consumers spend an average of 31 percent more with companies that have excellent online reviews.
The number of online reviews your business has even factors into your business’s search engine results position on Google. With so much importance attached to reviews, how can you get more good ones? Here are some tips for boosting your star rating—and for dealing with negative reviews.
Do’s and Don’ts to Get More Good Reviews
- Do provide great service. Yes, it’s obvious, but too often forgotten: The only sustainable way to get more positive reviews is to offer outstanding products and services.
- Don’t bribe customers for reviews. Incentivizing reviews by offering a discount or reward in return violates many review sites’ terms of service, including Yelp’s. (Check the terms of service on each review site to be sure what their rules are.)
- Do ask customers to review your business. The best way to do that is in person. When you know a customer is happy with your business, say something like, “We'd love it if you’d review us on Yelp.” Here are some other ideas to encourage reviews:
- If you have a brick-and-mortar location, post signage indicating which review site/s you’re on.
- Print “Review us on [SITE]” on your receipts or invoices.
- Include requests for reviews in your email newsletters and other email marketing materials.
- Link to your review listing at the end of your email signature.
- Don’t assume you’re “done.” Consumers read an average of seven reviews before they feel confident trusting a business. That doesn’t mean you can get seven reviews and then stop. Keep a steady stream of new reviews coming to keep your listing fresh.
- Do make it easy for customers to review your business. Don’t make customers search all over the internet for your review listings. Start by directing them to your review site of choice, whether that’s HomeAdvisor, Yelp or Google. (Of course, you want reviews on more than one site, but if you have 50 reviews on Yelp and only two on Google, you’ll want to focus on Google reviews for a while.) Put clickable icons on your website and in any digital communication with customers, so all they have to do is click to go directly to your review listing and start writing.
Handling Negative Reviews: Do’s and Don’ts
There’s good and bad news about negative online reviews.
- The bad news: Consumers are 21 percent more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one.
- The good news: A few negative reviews can actually make customers trust your reviews more. If a business has no negative reviews, 95 percent of consumers suspect the good reviews are fake or the bad ones have been censored.
Consumers have become more sophisticated about reviews, and most can recognize when a reviewer is being irrational. It’s the negative reviews founded in reality that give you a chance to learn from criticism and improve your business.
Here's how to deal with bad reviews:
Don't ignore them. Reply to a negative review as soon you see it. Reputation management software for small businesses can help you monitor and manage reviews.
Do be understanding. Express empathy for the customer’s unhappiness.
Don’t discuss it in public. Ask the customer to contact you privately to discuss their concerns. It’s best to talk by phone or in person, as texts and emails are subject to misinterpretation.
- Do share the happy solution. Once you resolve the matter, ask the customer if they’d be willing to add an update to their original review.
Most customers who complain simply want to be heard. Listen, respond, and who knows? You could turn that negative reviewer into a raving fan of your business.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.
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