– By: Andrea Marvin –
Earlier this week, we discussed the reasons why it’s not worth the risk to buy online reviews for your business. While it can be frustrating to receive negative online reviews, the damage to your business from fake reviews can be even worse. The consequences can range from being blacklisted on social media sites to fines imposed by the government.
As promised, today we’ll give you tips on how to go about improving your online reviews. In case you are wondering if spending time on reviews is worth it, keep in mind that 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Most business owners know that word of mouth is powerful and online reviews are quickly becoming the new word of mouth.
Let’s talk about the three most popular platforms for online reviews and the best ways to manage and stay on top of your reviews.
Facebook first rolled out reviews on their mobile app and has since begun allowing reviews from the desktop version. In order for reviews to appear on your page you’ll need to include your physical address in the “About” section of your page. This will enable your star rating to appear below your business name and allow visitors to leave a rating and review. Originally, Facebook did not allow page admins to respond to reviews, which was a major disservice to both business owners and customers. Now, when a review is written, you can respond with a comment. Just make sure you check your reviews frequently because Facebook does not provide notifications or alerts for new reviews.
To make the most of Yelp reviews, find your business listing and claim it by setting up a Yelp Business Owner’s account. Yelp will send an automated call to the phone number on the listing and you’ll be prompted to enter a four-digit code. This is to help ensure that listings can only be claimed by business owners. Once you claim your business, Yelp will send you an email anytime someone writes a review. This makes it easy to stay on top of the feedback you are receiving. You can also view all activity on your listing from a dashboard in your Business Owners account. Yelp provides the option to send private messages to reviewers or to leave a public comment. You are limited to sending five private messages in a day and making three public comments each day.
Google has had some variation of reviews for several years, but has now integrated reviews into their Places for Business listings. Places for Business will allow you to claim your Google listings. The process is a little cumbersome because you have to request a PIN, sent via postcard, in order to claim your listing. It is well worth your effort though to ensure that your Google listing is accurate. Once your listing is claimed you can view it from your dashboard. Login at least once a week to check for new reviews that may require your attention. You can also respond to reviews directly from your dashboard.
Now that you know how to find and monitor your review you probably want to know how to improve your ratings. You may have a few negative reviews that are pulling down your overall rating, or you may have no reviews at all. Unfortunately, consumers are more likely to tell people about their negative experiences than their positive ones. Here are a few easy steps you can proactively take to improve your online reviews:
1) Monitor and Respond to Your Reviews
The most important step you can take in improving your reviews is to stay on top of what is being said about your business online. Make sure to respond to all reviews, both positive and negative. If you receive positive feedback, thank the reviewer for their time and for their business. Negative reviews can be a little trickier to handle. Keep in mind that other potential customers will view your response and it may influence their decision to do business with you. Make sure to apologize for the issue that has caused the customer to be unhappy. If you disagree with their feedback, make sure your response is not confrontational or emotional and state the facts from your perspective. After responding online, make sure to reach out to reviewers with a personal phone call. Your follow-up and commitment to service may just convince them to revise their review.
2) Ask Satisfied Customers to Leave a Review (and make it easy!)
You probably have many loyal, satisfied customers who would be happy to provide a review, but have just never thought about it. There’s nothing wrong with telling these customers that you really appreciate their business and would be grateful if they wrote a review for you. Here are a few ways to go about asking for reviews.
- Send follow-up emails to your customers after they make a purchase and ask them to review your product/service. Make sure to provide links to your online profiles to make it easy.
- Send thank you notes to your best customers and tell them that you would love some feedback on how you are doing. Let them know they can find you on Facebook, Yelp, Google+, etc.
- Ask customers in person. There’s nothing wrong with asking a customer how you are doing. Hopefully they will give you great feedback which is also the perfect time to ask them to share their experience online.
There’s nothing wrong with targeting customers who you know are satisfied when asking for online reviews. Just make sure that you are not providing any type of incentive to write the review. Most people are happy to help out the small businesses that they are loyal to.
3) Provide Excellent Service
It’s easy to take negative reviews personally. Most small business owners are very passionate about what they do and hope to always satisfy their customers. Take some time to step back and objectively think about the negative feedback that you’ve received. Is there some truth in the review? Are there things that you could improve upon? Are there employees representing your company that could use more customer service training? Online reviews provide great insight into ways to improve your business. It’s better to receive feedback and have a chance to make things better than to lose a customer and never hear from them again. Providing excellent service doesn’t mean you’ll only have five-star reviews, but it will go a long way to ensuring you have longtime, loyal customers.
Take some time today to claim all of your listings so that you can start managing your reviews. Your online reputation is too important to ignore. If you need some help managing your online reviews, feel free to leave us a comment here or contact us about our reputation management services.
Meet the Author
Andrea Marvin: As a member of Vivial’s marketing team it’s been exciting to see how advertising has transformed over the last several years. We have moved from providing just print advertising to an entire solution set that includes digital advertising. I look forward to sharing the latest and greatest of what we are up to at Vivial along with industry news and trends.