Looking for authenticity, credibility and lots of likes? So are your customers. Before making a purchase, 92% of shoppers read reviews, according to a Bizrate report.
Great reviews start with consistent customer contact. Now is a great time to create a plan for managing your online reviews on sites important to your business. Follow the simple steps below, and you’ll be well on your way to garnering more—and better—online reviews.
1. Assess your current online reviews
If you have published reviews, are they mostly positive, mostly negative or a mix?
Take the time to publicly respond to some of the most recent ones if the platform allows you to do so. A simple “Thanks so much for the kind words!” or “So glad you enjoyed it. Can’t wait to have you back again!” are all you need in response to positive reviews.
For negative reviews it’s usually a best practice to remain apologetic and professional, look into any issue that’s mentioned and offer to continue the conversation directly via phone or email if need be.
2. Understand each review site’s guidelines and comply with them
Yelp prohibits businesses from asking customers, email subscribers, staff members or anyone else for reviews. Nor do they they allow you to offer gifts or discounts in exchange for reviews.
Google allows businesses to solicit reviews.
Angie’s List lets you request reviews and feedback from your customers.
OpenTable lets you respond publicly or privately to reviews.
Carefully read each site’s guidelines and terms of service for details.
3. Prep your profile
Make sure your profile is accurate, complete and up to date when it comes to basics like your logo, address and business hours. From there, explore whether you want to stick with a free profile or spring for a paid one, offered by many review sites like Trustpilot, which can get you extra perks like customizable review invitations, shareable ratings and review data.
4. Reach out!
Create an email campaign to happy customers. Thank them for their partnership, and ask them to leave a review on a certain site. If you offer an incentive, which will likely give you higher reviews, check to make sure it falls within the platform’s guidelines.
If your small business has a customer service line, you can build in review requests to your talk tracks to customers who give positive verbal feedback. If your business has an app, you can add a pop-up that will ask them to leave a quick rating or review.
Pro tip: People love a personal touch. Consider sending a handwritten thank you card once customers have been with you for a year. You shouldn’t directly ask for a review in the card, but it may inspire your client to take the initiative themselves.
5. Have a response strategy
Be prepared to respond to the incoming reviews you hope to receive. You don’t want to merely copy and paste the same responses over and over—this will come off as robotic and not genuine. Instead, have a few basic responses to work with that you can then customize depending on the review’s content.
6. Look for takeaways from each review
Are people mentioning how much they love a certain product? Feature it on your social media, or look into creating similar items. And turn negative comments into suggestions for improvement. Tell the reviewer about the changes you’ve made, and check back to see if it turns into a positive review.
7. Stay on top of your reviews
Create a calendar reminder or recurring appointment every week or two so you can briefly review your latest online reviews and respond in a timely manner.
Remember, you don’t have to have a significant presence on every major online review site. By sticking to one or a few main platforms, monitoring your reviews regularly and responding appropriately, you can keep on top of your business’ reputation, make your customers feel heard and see the results your effort brings in.