More than ever, online customer reviews are important whether you are selling a product or offering a service. Today’s consumers look beyond Google search results for feedback and recommendations on services and products. They will skip past the 2- and 3-star Google reviews if there are 4- and 5-star reviews further down the page, or even on subsequent pages. Recognizing this, major search engines like Google and Bing have begun factoring customer feedback into their ranking algorithms. The more positive the feedback and the more of them, the better.
Reviews not only help customers make informed buying decisions, they can boost your overall business, especially on the local level. Reports have also shown that positive customer reviews will increase the click-through rate to your website which further improves your search placement. Adding your reviews to customer review sites is yet another way to improve your search relevance in the local market. Reviews are not only good for business, but they are good for customers.
That said, very few customers take the time to submit an online review or rating. Most reviews tend to be negative, because that’s when the emotions of most consumers are highest. Obviously, these are not the kind of reviews you want.
So, how do we get those good reviews? Of course you have to begin with quality products and services. It’s surprising how many businesses feel they can skip this step. You may see short term results, if you’re lucky, but once the real reviews add up, you’re done. Being good at what you do is, far and away, the foundation upon which you will build that 5-star rating.
Next, you need to complete your profiles on the major review sites like:
These are just the big ones. There are over 80 review sites out there, most specializing in a particular business segment, such as home improvement or travel. Once you’ve finished completing your profiles it’s time to begin building customer relationships, making them want to leave reviews for you and become your brand ambassador. How do we do that?
- Just Ask: Do you ask for reviews? This important step is so often missed by companies. You can ask for a review via your website, telephone or by sending them a postcard or comment card asking them for a review. The easiest method is by email, and can be most effective if done right.
- Educate Them on How to Leave a Review: Customers need to be told how important reviews are for businesses today. In your email, thank them for their business and make it easy for them to leave you a good review. If you can make it a one or two click process, you’ll have a great response rate.
- Personal Touch: Call your customer by name in your email. Customers like to see that you took the trouble, and will be further inclined to respond.
- Create a Review Station: If you have a brick and mortar location you can set up a review station that contains a laptop or tablet where people can submit their review when they visit.
- Get Help: There are outsourcing solutions such as PR Reputation Management that will contact your customers for you and automate the process of collecting and tracking reviews. Some will even contact your unhappy customers and help you head off a bad review before it occurs.
- Quick Reminder: Make sure you send a friendly reminder to those customers who are slow to respond. Again, outsourcing solutions may include this as part of their service package.
- Offer an Incentive: Use this as the last resort. Most customers will leave a review without an incentive, but sometimes it can motivate them to act quickly and get that review posted. You have to do it ethically, though. You can offer coupons, discounts, or freebies, but you shouldn’t make them conditioned on a positive review.
- Respond to Reviews: When you get a negative review, respond in public, solve the problem. It shows you are listening and engaged which will often encourage more feedback. When you get a positive review be sure to say thank you.
- Email Signature: Include a review link in your standard email signature; you’ll be surprised at how many will use it.
Sound time consuming? Well sure, it can be. But if you have the time and in-house resources to spare, collecting and responding to customer reviews will pay big dividends over time. Or you can let us show you how our automated reputation management system can save you time and money. Get started now!