Online reviews matter. The numbers say that 90% of customers will admit they were influenced by positive reviews. 86% will say the same for negative reviews. In fact, online reviews might have a bigger impact on your business than all the Google or Facebook ads you’ve been buying.
But the main problem with online reviews is that you don’t get to choose whether the reviews your business gets are good or bad. You can offer great customer service and high-quality products, but even that won’t completely fend off the occasional bad review.
Lots of good reviews will, however. If you want to make sure that the bad reviews you eventually get don’t stand out too much, you need to drown them in a sea of great reviews. And here are a couple of tips on how to get those.
Make it Easy
The biggest problem with online reviews is that the people who want to leave a bad one are more likely to go through all the trouble of doing it that than people who want to leave a good review. Your number one priority should be making it as easy as possible for everyone to leave a review. People who want to complain will do it anyway, and people who want to give you accolades will appreciate you for not wasting their time.
You need to make sure that your customers can leave reviews on any website that allows it. Yelp and Google Local are only a couple of websites that will let them do it, but you need to look beyond them as well. Look at industry-specific review websites or websites that are not as popular as the big ones. The logic here is to avoid forcing people to look around for a website where they can say what they have about your business. Give them options, make it easy.
Now that your business is present on all of these websites, you should make your customers aware of it. You should include links to your review pages in any form of communication you use with your customers. Those include your website, your newsletter, and the follow-up email you send to customers after they’ve made a purchase.
Ask for Reviews Nicely, but Provide Incentive
You can’t buy reviews. Well, you actually can, but you shouldn’t because that’s a strategy that backfires. So, to get a review, you should just ask your customers to write one. You can explain why reviews are important for your business and ask your clients to write them in two to three sentences that you can easily include in your next newsletter, or email to your customers. You can’t insist because you will turn even the most satisfied customer off from doing it, but you can mention it and ask nicely.
And you can also offer an incentive, as long as the incentive is for writing a review, not writing a good review. You can offer, for example, a monthly giveaway for a reviewer you pick randomly. It’s a small thing that can go a long way in encouraging your customers to review your business.
Don’t Take Your Reviews for Granted
When people take their time to say something about your business, you need to acknowledge that. The way to do that is to thank every person that leaves a review of your business (if the review website allows it, that is). You should also ensure that you address any bad review you get – you don’t want to be perceived as running away from criticism. Embrace it, instead, and you’ll show that you’re willing to learn and grow.
Your staff should also understand how important the reviews are for your business and their job security. You should explain to the people who work directly with customers how and why the reviews are important, and you should also think about providing a bonus to the employees who get the best reviews. It can be in the form of money, but you can also think up more creative ways of rewarding the people who get you the best reviews. And don’t forget – sale people and customer representatives can only do so much. The product you sell needs to be really good if you want to get good reviews. So start with that, then work your way down this list, and you’ll see the good reviews coming one after the other.