As the internet continues to grow and its influence reaches out over more and more aspects of everyday life, a business can no longer ignore the importance of online reviews. They play a big role in the purchasing decisions of your customers with over 90% of Americans agreeing that online reviews help them decide whether or not to purchase a product. Consumers are consistently seeking to find the best services and products, relying on online reviews and ratings to help guide them. With the explosion of mobile web searching and increased development of review apps, consumers are making their spending decisions on-the-go and faster than ever.

A business must establish a positive web presence and manage its online reputation to compete in today’s markets. Part of that web presence is the compilation of reviews and ratings posted online by your customers. Think about the last time you made a purchase from a company with a one star review. Never, right? Consumer ratings and user reviews rank high in search engine results and they provide legitimacy and social backing for your business which is important to prospective customers. This is especially vital for local and small businesses that rely heavily on the results from customer’s online research and search engine results for new business.

90 percent positive reviews influence

You need them. You want them. But how do you encourage positive online review?

Make it easy for customers to complete and submit reviews. Keep the review process short and easy. Provide star ratings systems and enable comment functions on your websites. Provide links or clickable images directly to your pages on the popular review sites they are accustomed to using such as Google and Yelp. Remember to provide a few options for where they can leave a review for better conversion. You might prefer Google reviews but not all customers have a Gmail account and if they don’t then they can’t review on Google. IMPORTANT: Monitor and moderate all the channels you suggest customers to review your business on and ensure a prompt response to issues or problems to handle any negative reviews.

Make your presence known. Make sure your business is listed on any third-party sites your customers might be visiting. This also applies to major social media sites, as younger demographics tend to voice their opinions on their preferred social media networks. If a customer wants to leave a review they should be able to easily find a way to do that online.

Don’t ignore this step because with some review sites, if your business is not listed and a customer wants to leave a review they can create a page for you and you don’t want an outsider starting a business profile for you anywhere online. Claim your business name with online review and social media sties, ensuring you take the time to properly fill in all the information for your business including a photo or logo.

65 percent consider social medial

Ask for a review and send reminders if you have the customers email address. Some business owners are embarrassed to ask for a review but as the saying goes, “closed mouths don’t get fed.” Be honest and say you are trying to grow your online exposure and reviews really help other customers find your business so it would mean a lot if they could take a minute to leave a review.

Time your review request promptly after the service or purchase. Your best chance of getting feedback from people is right after the transaction. The longer you wait, the completion rates for reviews quickly declines. If your business captures emails, this is the best way to connect with customers immediately to request a review. With face to face transactions consider a handout that gives easy instructions on leaving a review. Add it to the back of your business card and you can have 500 printed for less than $20. You can even add a QR Code that mobile users can scan to go directly to your review page. Add these cards or handouts reminders to your completed orders with physical products.

Have a great service/product and provide great customer service. No business is perfect but if you give your best, customers will recognize it. In appreciation many will leave a great review where they would have otherwise not reviewed at all. Make a great first impression, follow through on your promises and customers will want to share that experience with other people. If you receive any negative feedback, the positive is that you know where to start making improvements to get better reviews.

72 percent blame bad service

Encourage other customers when responding to posted online reviews. As a business who cares about its customers you should set aside time to respond to reviews online. Address the issues in negative reviews, but also thank your best reviewers for taking the time to recognize your business. By showing your appreciation for reviews and how much you value the opinion of your customers, people who found your reviews online will be encouraged to come back to leave their review and new customers will see that their words aren’t going into a void.

If you’d like to learn more about online reputation and automated customized review management, you can click through Reputation Loop’s features and blog.

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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.