You live an die by your reputation. I think most people would agree with that statement? If someone doesn't know you, what is your reputation to them? It's whatever it says when you google that persons name/business etc. That is a person's first impression of you nowadays. Think about that. Businesses and people live and die by what other people say online about them whether its true or not. 97.8% of people read reviews before purchasing. Do I have your attention now? What comes up when they search you and your business? It is so easy to get information now that it has become part of everyones daily routine. Instead of sitting back and not doing anything about it, you now have the ability to change that. I'd like to share with you some stats from a survey by Bright Locals CEO Myles Anderson below.
-86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34)
-Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business
-40% of consumers only take into account reviews written within the past 2 weeks – up from 18% last year
-57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars
-80% of 18-34 year olds have written online reviews – compared to just 41% of consumers over 55
-91% of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
-89% of consumers read businesses' responses to reviews
1.) Get a handle on your reviews- For people not managing reviews it can seem like a helpless and frustrating process. You are getting negative reviews and you don't really know what to do about it. You call Google or Yelp to only find out that you are fighting city hall. There are ways to remove them but I wouldn't spend a lot of time on it. I would focus more time on getting more reviews going forward and mitigate bad reviews. When you have a review management process/software helping you with your reviews you will be more in tune with how you are represented online. Having bad reviews online that you don't respond too is like having your sign falling off of your store front and not doing anything about it. People won't come into your location if you don't even care to fix your sign. You need to know what your online reputation is and be able to respond and manage it accordingly.
2.) Address issues right away- When you are set up to monitor reviews you are able to address issues immediately. If someone writes a bad review you can respond. Not responding is bad for your business. I would address the issues promptly and try to take the conversation offline. There are a lot of places to monitor as every industry seems to have specific websites where people leave reviews about their business. For home improvement, people might leave a review on Houzz. For car dealerships, people might leave reviews on car gurus.com etc. It is important to be monitoring all these places.
3.) Be thankful- You should always thank people for their feedback, good or bad. You should be responding to every review and thanking them appropriately. It is strange and a negative sign if the owners of the company are not aware of what their customers are saying and responding accordingly.
4.) It helps your business- When you are managing reviews you will start to see things that customers are saying that you might need to fix about your company. The review management software that we use has reports like this below that will help to identify areas of improvement. The software will cross reference what people are saying in the most negative reviews and positive reviews and these are things you might want to change or highlight about your business. At least it will give you a better understanding of why people like you and why people don't.
5.) Creates a conversation- The more you can speak with your happy and unhappy customers the better off you are. It shows that you care and that you are not above getting better. By reaching out to your customers after or before they have made a review you are able to look like a real company trying to establish your business for the long term.
6.) Get more reviews- When you focus on anything, you will get better at it. The first place to start is to sign up with a review management software that will help you with the process. It will be the single best investment you have ever made in your business. Particularly businesses that deal with a lot of customers. The pricing ranges from $30-$500 a month. If you need help picking one or implementing one you can respond below in the comments or click here. The software will help you curate good reviews and mitigate the bad reviews. This is a proactive approach to managing your online reputation. The reviews are going to happen with our without you. In regards to Yelp, I would consider it the platform where people get to bitch about your company and how terrible you are. One of the main reasons for this is that consumers can set up profiles about your company without your permission. If you get someone who is really upset about the experience with your business, they can set up a yelp page for you and give you a dreaded 1-star rating and if you are not aware of this it can be devastating to your business. That profile gets indexed with google and becomes a magnet for the negative comments. It's terrible to discover this going on without your knowledge. You might as well join the conversation and get ahead of it.
7.) Get less bad reviews- What is a bad review? Its typically a customer that has had a bad experience and for whatever reason they are not feeling heard. People just want to be heard mostly and sometimes want something back based on their bad experience (give them something free to come back and use your services again in the future, which is much better than getting a 1-star detailed review). You need to have a strategy around this. When you use a review management platform you are able to identify the people that are going to write a bad review before they give that review. Imagine if you were using review management software this whole time and were able to fix problems before they become public problems with your business. What would that mean to your business? You can do this with the software. Instead of having customers go online and complaining publicly, they complain to you first and you have a chance to save them. This gives you less bad reviews.
8.) Great PR- When you ask your customers for their honest feedback I think they appreciate it. It shows that you care about them and their experience. This will make them promoters of your business particularly if you are responding to all of them. When others see you responding online it looks good for your brand as well.
9.) Review flow- Many of the software platforms have review feeds that you can embed directly into your site. This will have the latest reviews from all the different platforms showing that you guys are alive and doing well. The review feed can also help with your on page SEO. Fresh content updated daily and new every time google's web crawlers come back to your site is a positive when it comes to Google rankings. Below is example of what this feed looks like.
10.) The cheapest form of advertising today- If I had a $ for every time someone says that their best form of advertising is word of mouth I would be retired by now. That's an exaggeration but everyone's number one form of business is word of mouth. Reviews are todays word of mouth advertising. If you are not paying attention to it, you should. The cost for doing it does not have to be expensive and the return on it is immense. Get in the game today!