In today’s competitive business market, online reviews can make or break a business’ reputation. As more and more customers become wise to the practice of reviewing a product or service beforehand – be it a restaurant, spa, law firm, or hotel – the value of receiving and maintaining positive reviews is critical to your brand reputation and long-term success.
Obviously, then, a review-acquisition process should be a part of any business’ digital marketing strategy. The only question is where you should begin, or what mechanism your business should put in place to acquire positive reviews and resolve negative ones. This is the question that we’ll attempt to answer in this article.
There are three main forms of reviews that we’ll discuss here; These are Google reviews, directory reviews, and social media reviews.
Google My Business
‘Google My Business’ (GMB) is Google’s local business directory. Google displays your business’ information, based on a user’s search query and location. In the example, above, we searched for coffee shops in New York. Although, only the top three results displayed in the “3-pack”, we could find more local results by expanding the GMB listings box.
Users can leave a review on your GMB listing, and this factors into your overall GMB rating. Your reviews directly affect your rating, and how high Google places your listing in their local search directory; Only the top three listings make it into the local “3-pack” – the coveted “holy grail” of GMB listings. Here is how to set up your own Google My Business listing.
Not only do business reviews help your business scale the ladder of local competition, it can help your business get more traffic. If people are saying awesome things about you, then this leaves a strong trust signal for future customers. After all, why wouldn’t people want to discover what all the hype is about?
If you’re making your customers happy, then why not help them tell the world by leaving a GMB review? Every business should create a process for actively soliciting reviews from customers, whether this takes the form of an automated text or email with a link. You can also have your staff ask for business reviews, or even provide them with a discount if they give you a review.
The key to remember here, however, is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Even if a customer is willing to leave a review, there is a point where it becomes too much work and they lose interest. Few customers are going to click through multiple pages just to leave you a review. Make the process as streamlined as possible, or you’ll risk losing them.
Of course, it should go without saying that the quality of your product, experience, and customer service is integral to getting positive reviews – This is key! If you lack in any of those areas, your chances of receiving positive feedback are diminished. This point cannot be overstated, because not only will a poor customer experience NOT result in a positive review, it might motivate the customer to leave a negative review, damaging your reputation and rating.
While business directories such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and FourSquare, etc. won’t help you get those 5 golden stars on Google Maps or your local Google rankings, they will help increase your overall business ranking on Google.
It’s no secret that customers are influenced by reviews. Whether it’s the new café on the corner, the latest apparel brand, or your Uber rating – good reviews are a signal of quality. More and more customers are resorting to top business directories as a part of their decision-making process. They check the rating and reviews for services such as restaurants, clinics, or law firms before they decide on one. Reviews will increasingly affect your business’ success, as more and more customers jump on the “business review bandwagon”. Just as with your GMB reviews, above, you should actively pursue positive reviews from happy customers; These will be worth their weight in gold in the long run.
Unfortunately, anger is a stronger motivator than is happiness, so angry customers are much more likely to leave a negative review than are happy ones. This means that most of the time, the only reviews you will get, naturally, are from people who are unhappy with your services. So, to counteract this negative trend, you must try to get as many people as possible to positively review your business.
For example, if you had 5 critics give you bad reviews, then it looks bad for your business. On the other hand, if you have 100 reviews saying great things, those same 5 negative reviews seem insignificant, and hardly damage your business’ rating and reputation.
It’s very important to select several top business directories that you will refer your customers to. Sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and FourSquare are well known and trusted by most customers. Try to avoid focusing on too many business directories, because this will spread your reviews too thinly across these platforms, making you look less popular. Focus on building a strong brand reputation on several select platforms and forget about low-quality business directories.
Businesses need to realize that social media isn’t just a platform that lets them interact with customers and promote their brand, but it’s also where customers will leave their reviews. When a customer is angry with their service, they usually resort to social media – a tweet or Facebook post – to complain. Staying engaged on social media allows you to quickly pick up on a negative post or positive feedback and respond accordingly.
If a customer publicly calls out your business on social media, try to resolve the issue publicly. Don’t merely ask them to contact customer service with their complaint because this looks like an attempt to sweep the problem under the rug and shush up the unhappy customer. Rather, as far as possible, resolve the complaint publicly, maintaining a respectful attitude towards the customer. Other customers will see your response and be amazed at the quality of your customer service.
Although you don’t want to give in to ridiculous demands of the customer, you should at least treat the customer how you would like to be treated by any customer service representative.
In conclusion, you can see that customer reviews play an integral role in brand perception and reputation. Every business should implement a process for actively acquiring reviews from their happiest customers.
While it’s obvious that no business can control what people say about their brand, they can control how they respond. By actively pursuing positive feedback, resolving negative experiences, and staying on top of your social media mentions, you can maintain the edge in your quest to build your brand and reputation.
Author Bio: Leighton Burley is the founder of Artiiseo, a digital marketing agency in Winnipeg, Canada. With over 10 years of experience in digital marketing, Leighton has worked with some of the top agencies in North America and possesses a deep knowledge of the industry. He also writes extensively about marketing, entrepreneurialism, and business in general.