Now more than ever, your business depends on what people are saying about you. An attentive and intentional review collection plan is an essential part of any marketing strategy. The best companies have processes in place to gather reviews from the customers who love them most and then distribute those reviews to a broader audience.
Today, we’ll discuss some of the best practices for reputation management and how small business owners can implement them.
You’ll never get good reviews if customers don’t know where to leave them. Step one is optimizing your review pages. Start by making sure you have claimed your business listing on the most popular feedback sites: Google, Yelp and Facebook.
Once you have claimed your listing, verify that your business name, address and phone number (NAP) are correct and consistent on every site. Inconsistent or inaccurate listings confuse both Google and your potential customer. Verifying your NAP across multiple high-quality sites sends a positive signal to search engines and helps you rank higher.
Make sure your profiles are polished and professional with a uniform logo, and optimize every aspect that you can. Share beautiful images and respond to customer questions. Post on Google and other listings. Consider optimizing for voice search. Do everything you can to make your business stand out. You won’t get any positive reviews if your customers can’t find you.
Each of the third-party review sites has their own set of rules. For example, Yelp frowns upon specifically asking your customers for reviews, while Google is fine with it.
There are also rules set by the Federal Trade Commission. An obvious rule is that you cannot offer a financial incentive in exchange for positive feedback. In other words, don’t try to buy Yelp reviews or any other type of review. This will only end up hurting you in the long run.
The gold standard is feedback that is authentic, helpful and truthful, so try to find ways to encourage genuine reviews, not manufacture them.
If you want something, you have to be willing to ask for it. There will be some customers who are organically inspired to offer feedback, but most people won’t even think to leave a review unless you ask them to.
Where possible, try to encourage your satisfied customers to review your business online. Pick a good time to ask, while they are still getting value out of your product or service, and ask in person, if you can.
There are several online software products that can help you automate the review invitation process. The producers of these types of software are aware of strict guidelines (like those from Yelp) and will help you adhere to best practices. These growth tools make it easy to invite your customers to give feedback on your business, and many of them offer review tracking, as well.
If you can make the review process as quick and painless as possible, you will be more likely to get good reviews. You don’t want a complicated review process to leave a customer feeling more frustrated with your service.
Instead, add a “Leave a Review” button to your webpage and email signature. Set up an in-store feedback station or tablet. Use reputation management software to automate the process via text or email. Track engagement on social media and encourage loyal customers to share their reviews on Yelp or Google.
Whatever you choose, keep it simple for everyone.
Time to address the elephant in the room: What to do with scathing reviews? You can’t please everyone — and you really shouldn’t try to — but you can spin the negative into a positive.
Your best option is to always reply to angry customers. According to one survey, 78 percent of consumers actually trusted a business more when they saw them respond to online reviews. Prioritize which comments need immediate feedback and resolve the issue as quickly as you can (ideally before you post your response).
Always be professional and never blame the customer. Be apologetic and offer reparation when possible. Respond to feedback through the public platform, but then take the (potentially ugly) conversation offline.
Remember, potential customers will see your response, so show your prospects that you take feedback seriously. Those who read your professional response will learn more about your brand than the negative review could tell them — that you care about customers as individuals.
And while you’re at it, say thank you to your loyal customers, as well. Customers who take the time to leave a review are making a positive impact on your business, and they deserve your attention and gratitude.
When you do get glowing reviews, share them! Post them on your website, in Facebook ads, in product descriptions — and give credit to your fans. People love to see their name in lights, even if it’s only the light of their smartphone screen.
Include a “Testimonial” tab on your own webpage. Not only does this build social proof for your business, but it also makes it more likely that your page will pop up first on Google when consumers search for your reviews.
You should also include a widget or badge on your webpage that reflects your real-time review average. Customers can go to review sites directly to verify feedback and leave their own reviews.
Your reviews aren’t going to get better if you don’t get better.
If you notice that multiple people share the same complaint, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate. Identify the problem and fix it. Being willing to learn from your mistakes and trust your customer will save you the stress of more negative reviews in the future and will also help your business be more effective.
You will get the occasional negative review, but keep working hard and instilling passion into what you do. The reviews will improve themselves.