A Look at the Importance of Online Reviews, Keeping on Top of Them, and How to Do It
Reputation management itself is as old as time. Every business knows people who feel good about a business are more likely to patronize it. That reputation management has changed dramatically over the years, though. In the past, word of mouth was a person’s only way of knowing about a business before their first visit. Today, online reviews tell all. If you aren’t sure about the importance of online reviews or whether they’re worth your time to oversee, here’s what you need to know.
How Important are Online Reviews?
In a nutshell, online reviews are crucial. They’ll impact your business in several ways.
Everyone Reads Reviews
Maybe “everyone” is an exaggeration, but it’s pretty darn close. Studies show that 90% of consumers read reviews before visiting a business for the first time
Note that this statistic says “90% of consumers,” not “90% of your customers.” It includes the people who considered coming to your business but changed their minds when they saw your reviews.
Reviews are Front and Center
If you’re looking for a new dry cleaner, what do you do? If you’re like most people, you head to Google and do a search.
Chances are that on top of traditional search results, Google will show you a few top listings for dry cleaners near you. Those listings will show each business’s location, photos, contact information, and of course, review rating.
For a large number of customers who are looking for businesses in your specialty, your review rating is one of the first things they see. That first impression could be the one deciding factor between whether they choose you or a competitor.
Reviews Help Your SEO
For any local business, showing up in one of those top Google listings is the ultimate goal. Did you know your reviews are partially responsible?
When Google selects the businesses to display with featured listings, they want to recommend the business they’re most confident about. After all, they stake their reputations on helping people find what they want, so they need to recommend businesses that are trustworthy.
Your customer reviews are a powerful way Google determines how legitimate and reliable you are.
It isn’t just about your star rating, though. The number of reviews matters as well. The more reviews you have, the more confident Google can be that you are who you say you are.
How to Make Your Customer Reviews Work for You
Now that you understand the importance of online reviews and how much they impact your business, how do you make those reviews better? Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to bump up those star ratings.
Keep the Good Reviews Coming
We aren’t saying you should neglect your business, but it’s important to recognize that a bad review here and there is inevitable. The best way to limit the impact of those bad reviews is to pile good reviews on top of them.
The trick is not only asking customers for reviews but also knowing who to ask. If you put that responsibility on your customer service staff in addition to all their other job requirements, it may not be a priority.
The good news is that digital tools can take care of this for you. Online reputation management software sends automated emails to customers to survey them about their experiences. When a customer responds positively, the software invites them to post a review and gives them a convenient link.
Building a strong online reputation isn’t just about getting reviews. It’s also about what you do when they arrive.
Post a response to every review that comes your way, good or bad.
For good reviews, a simple post of gratitude works well, thanking the person for their business and their feedback.
For negative reviews, it’s a bit trickier. Your response needs two things: sympathy and a mode of action.
Acknowledge that the person felt wronged. Then, instead of arguing and negotiating with them online, invite them to call a particular administrator to discuss the issue further. If you prefer, you can tell them a specific administrator will get in touch with them.
This makes the reviewer feel heard and it also shows other potential customers that you care and you’re paying attention. It shows that you actively try to make your customers happy.
As a bonus, sometimes when you resolve the issue a customer had when they posted their review, they will revise their review and their star rating.
Resolve Situations Before They Become Reviews
As we mentioned above, you can’t prevent negative reviews 100% of the time. You can reduce them, though, by making sure as many of your customers as possible are happy.
Put a system in place for any time a customer is upset or has a bad experience. If your staff isn’t able to resolve the problem at the time, have them report it to a specific manager or administrator.
That manager should then contact the customer to hear them out and try to reach a resolution.
You may be shocked by how many issues a simple phone call can prevent. Customers often just want to be heard and to know that you’re trying to help. In some cases, a token of apologies like a discount or gift card can do the trick as well.
This strategy doesn’t only reduce the number of negative reviews you receive. It also helps you build a relationship with your customers, leading to long-term loyalty.
Understanding and Listening to the Importance of Online Reviews
We cannot overstate the importance of online reviews. In today’s world where people are used to getting fast bits of information, those reviews could make all the difference in your business’s success.
The challenge is getting a handle on how to improve those reviews.
To start with an automated tool that can pull in more positive reviews, reach out to our digital marketing team about our automated reputation management tool.
Also, consider our free Local SEO Health Audit report as it includes a reputation management assessment amongst other beneficial data to help you optimize your domain to help your business grow!