The world has changed. Today, we are all connected- and information travels faster than ever.
If you’re like most people, when you’re looking for the newest gadget, lawn care service or restaurant, you do a bit of online research fist. It’s almost a force of habit at this point.
One of the things I always find myself doing (and I bet you do too) is looking at online reviews.
How does this product work for other people?
Are there drawbacks?
Should I consider another option?
While exploring all these questions can get overwhelming, it’s so useful to know what other people’s experiences are. And weather you know it or not, these reviews are heavily influencing your buying decisions.
What does this mean for your business?
This means people are looking at your business online, and comparing you with your competitors. Chances are, the company with the best online reviews are getting the most calls, clicks and emails.
And this can equal up to big bucks.
So how do you “cash in” on the online review system? And what should you avoid?
I spend quite a bit of time with my clients on this subject- and I want to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned in helping companies strengthen their online reputation.
“But my business is mostly referrals… I don’t think I need reviews”
Referral based businesses are great (I have one!)- but that doesn’t mean you don’t need the reviews. Weather you know it or not people are still doing their homework.
And you run an even bigger risk by not addressing your online reviews.
The negative review.
In fact, this is why most people ask me to help them with their online reputation. Even the most stellar companies eventually are going to have an unhappy customer. I’m sure this sounds familiar- there are just some people you can’t ever please.
When a company comes to me, it usually goes like this:
“I got a bad review online, can you help me get rid of it?”
The answer is no. Unless the review is completely false (and you can prove it), you’re not going to erase it.
So what do you do?
You drown out the bad review with good ones.
Most of these review systems use a star rating (or something similar). 1 star is bad, and 5 stars is great, but your overall score is a average of all your reviews.
It just comes down to math.
If you have spent no time getting reviews, 1 bad review can really hurt.
This is why asking for reviews is so important.
It’s time to get ahead of the game (if that’s still possible). Before you let one bad review wreak your online reputation- you need to get started with positive reviews.
The only way you can do this is to start collecting glowing reviews from your biggest fans. If you can fill all the online channels with 4 and 5 star reviews, the inevitable “hard-to-please” customer’s voice wont be so loud.
It’s going to happen- I don’t care how great your business is… you are going to get a negative review. But I don’t want you to have to spend all your time trying to play catch-up and repairing any damage that has been done. If you can start now, you’re going to have a much better shot at having a fantastic reputation online.
It’s all about the average score of your reviews. The more positive reviews you can collect, the better your average will be.
In fact, a small percentage of bad reviews isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Customers want authenticity, and we’re all human. One less-than-stellar review shows that you too are human, and the reviews are likely authentic. This also gives you the opportunity to respond to feedback and adjust any policies or practices that lead to a negative experience.
What do you do next?
The good news is, it’s really pretty easy. Below you are going to walk through 3 easy to follow steps that will get you going down the right path.
The best advice I can give you is to start now.
Time is of the essence, and you’re never going to be in a better position than you are today. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get started.
Step 1: Research your own business.
Before you can take any measures you need to know what’s already being said about your company, product or service online. You might not even be aware of any positive (or negative) things people might already be saying about you.
There are TONS of places your business might be showing up online. Your best best is to just Google your business name and see what comes up. The higher up the list any of these review platforms are in your search results, the more likely customers are to see them. This means you should focus first on the results nearst the top of the first page and work your way down from there.
Here are a few common places your business might be listed:
- Google (or Google My Business)
- Yahoo! Local Listings
- Angie’s List
- Yellow Pages
- Trip Advisor
- Four Square
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)
These are just the common ones, and there are a lot more out there. There is likely even some industry-specific ones for your industry.
Take a look at what your profile on these pages looks like- Are there any reviews? Is the information about your correct?
Step 2: Claim your listings.
Many of the online review sites listed above will curate listings about your business without you having to do anything. This is nice, it saves you a little time, but they are often full of inaccurate information. If this is the first place someone learns about your business you don’t want them getting false information about your business.
I’m going to honest- this step is a huge pain in the butt.
Some of these online review sites make it difficult to claim your listing, and nag you about signing up for additional services (paid services). In most cases, those services are not necessary.
My advice? Do the best you can. Chances are you won’t get control of all of them, but don’t let this step detour your from the process all together. Even if you only get a couple, that’s better than nothing.
Step 3: Ask for reviews.
Even your biggest fans probably aren’t going out of their way to brag about their experience with your business- but that doesn’t mean that they wont.
The best way to get more reviews is to ask for them.
People who truly get value from what you provide will usually be glad to leave a review for you, and it also shows that what they thing matters to you.
This is a win-win, and it really is THAT simple.
Here’s a great tool for getting a direct link to your Google reviews: https://www.localclarity.com/resources/google-review-link/
Here are a few tips to help you to get more reviews:
- Make it easy. Provide your customers with a direct link to your profile so they don’t have to search around.
- Tell your customers what it means to you. They are more likely to follow through if they know it’s important to you.
- Follow up. Give it a few days, and if they haven’t completed a review send them a note and ask them if the link you sent worked, or if they were able to easily find your profile.
- Thank them! If they do leave a review, make sure to thank them. Maybe they will leave you another!
But there are a few things you want to avoid:
- Don’t incentivize your review process. While it might seem logical to try and barter a discount or something free for a good review- the truth is your customers will see right through this. Now, instead of getting a good review from a happy customer, you might have alienated them.
- Don’t harass them to do it. After a good expeirence with your business, it’s perfectly okay to ask them to review their experience, but don’t be too pushy. While many customers will be glad to do it, some won’t- and that’s okay. Really, if you have to bug them about it, do you think you’re going to really get a good review anyway?
- Do not post your own reviews. I shouldn’t have to mention this, but I see it often. It’s easy to sign up on these sites and write your own reviews- but it’s a terrible idea. Some sites (like Yelp) will sniff this out quickly and actually punish your listing for it. In general, it’s just a bad idea.
Where do you go from here?
Hopefully you are on the right path now- but if you have any questions, or need any help, I’m here to help!
You’re welcome to contact me and I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
Here’s to a stellar reputation, and to those who manage it!