Online reviews are essential for small businesses. In fact, according to hostingtribunal.com, 72% of customers won’t support a business until they have read its reviews. This just goes to show that even though businesses can spend thousands on advertising themselves in a positive light, the opinions of past customers are still worth more in the eyes of potential customers. With online reviews playing such a significant role in people’s purchasing decisions, small businesses should focus more of their energies on receiving more of these coveted reviews.
- Be open to reviews
This might sound like an obvious one, but it’s surprising how many businesses fail to open themselves up to receiving reviews. One of the more common examples we see is businesses that have turned off the functionality to receive reviews via their Facebook page. Many cite concerns over receiving negative reviews which might negatively impact potential customer support.
However, at the end of the day, it is not so much what the review states, but rather how a business responds that counts. Potential customers can quickly decipher whether your business values its customers’ feedback and makes reparations in the event of an unfortunate incident. This has the (unexpected) consequence of fostering trust for your small business. In comparison, switching off your Facebook reviews may give the impression that your business has something to hide, or that it is not open to receiving feedback and making improvements when necessary.
Google is another key avenue for receiving online reviews. In fact, a study by reviewtrackers.com found that Google accounts for over 57% of all reviews worldwide, followed second by Facebook at 19%. To receive more reviews on Google, start by claiming your Google My Business listing page if you haven’t yet done so. Not only will potential customers find important information such as your business address and contact details, but they’ll also be able to read (and write) reviews for your business.
- Ask for it
The most believable reviews are the ones that customers leave without any prompting. But that’s not to say that you can’t encourage customers to write a genuine review of your business. The key is to get your timing right and to make it as easy as possible for them to leave the review. In most cases, it’s best to wait until your customer has received the full benefits of your product or service, such as after they have accepted delivery or experienced your after-sales service.
Two great ways to ask for reviews is to send personalised email requests or to ask your customers face-to-face when they compliment you in-store. When asking your customers to leave reviews, be sure to give them a direct link to your Google or Facebook reviews section, so they don’t have to spend any extra time searching for it.
- Always respond to reviews
Small businesses shouldn’t take for granted that a satisfied customer will continue calling on them. Staying in touch with customers is crucial to ensuring loyalty – and even something as simple as responding to their reviews can make them feel appreciated. Which, in turn, increases the likelihood of them remembering and returning to your business. Other customers may also feel encouraged to leave a positive review when they can see how much you value them.
Even more important than responding to positive reviews, is responding to negative reviews. Therein lies an opportunity to turn a negative situation around, and possibly turn a one-off customer into a lifelong supporter. Whether good or bad, each review provides a wealth of opportunity and warrants a response.
- Provide exceptional service
There is an old saying that the more you give, the more you will receive. This is why we believe that the best way to receive more online reviews is to give exceptional service in the first place. After all, people rarely acknowledge the average or celebrate the mediocre. It is only when businesses meet and exceed expectations (or fail to do so), that customers feel pressed to leave an online review. So don’t lose sight of the importance of providing an excellent product or service. Your customers will publicly thank you for it.
How businesses respond to online reviews can spell the difference between attracting and retaining or deterring and losing customers. If your small business needs help with managing its online presence and reviews, then speak to the digital marketing team at Online Innovations today. We are specialists in managing all aspects of a business’s online presence.
Click here for more Digital Marketing advice