The Benefits of a Strong Online Reputation
A strong online reputation is essential for businesses to thrive in a highly competitive marketplace. Businesses spend huge amounts of time and money cultivating it. They do that because of the long term benefits it brings to their business. One of the things to learn is… how to get customer reviews.
Increased Trust and Credibility
Positive reviews establish trust and credibility in the eyes of your customers. When people see that others have had positive experiences with your business, they are more likely to trust your business, and choose you themselves. This has always been true, even before online reviews, we’ve all gone to a shop, or a restaurant, recommended to us, but the internet has supercharged this. Now we can listen to thousands of people, all at once.
Improved Search Engine Rankings
SEO experts don’t believe that search engines, like Google, take customer reviews into account when determining the standard search rankings, but the local results are a different story. Businesses with a higher number of positive reviews, and recent reviews, are more likely to appear at the top of “Local 3 Pack”, the local map listing towards the top of local results pages.
Increased Customer Engagement
Customer reviews promote engagement and interaction between businesses and their customers. It provides an opportunity for businesses to respond to feedback, address concerns, and build meaningful relationships. Customers who feel they have a personal connection to a business are way more likely to do business with them, spend more money when they do, and recommend that business to their friends and family.
Valuable Feedback for Improvement
Customer reviews offer valuable feedback that can help businesses identify areas for improvement. By actively listening to customer feedback, businesses can refine their products, services, and overall customer experience. Businesses would love to interview every customer and ask how they could improve their products, well reviews are as close as we can get.
The Impact of Customer Reviews
It’s important to grasp the underlying psychology of reviews and statistics that highlight their significance. Customer reviews tap into the powerful concept of social proof, where people look to the actions of others and their experiences to determine the credibility and desirability of a product or service. When potential customers see good reviews from others who have already tried and tested a business, they feel more confident and reassured in their decision to engage.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the influence of reviews on consumer behaviour. Research findings consistently reveal that a vast majority of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. In fact, according to a recent survey, 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 97% of those taking them into account when making a purchase decision.
Social proof is closely related to the concept of herd mentality, where people tend to follow the actions and decisions of the majority. When new customers see a large number of positive reviews, it creates a sense of safety and reduces the perceived risk of making a wrong decision. They feel more confident in choosing a business with a strong track record of positive customer experiences.
Influence on Consumer Decision-Making
Positive customer reviews can influence various stages of the consumer decision-making process. They can attract new customers who are in the awareness stage, still exploring their options. Positive reviews can also reinforce the decision of customers who are in the consideration stage, helping them finalise their choice. Reviews can even act as a trigger for impulse purchases, especially when potential customers see reviews highlighting specific features or benefits.
Negative customer reviews, although not ideal, can also impact consumer decision-making. They provide valuable insights on potential drawbacks or issues that consumers may encounter. Addressing and resolving negative reviews transparently demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction, which can enhance the reputation of the business.
How to Encourage Customer Reviews
Getting customers to write reviews requires proactive strategies that encourage customers to share their experiences. By implementing these strategies effectively, businesses can increase the likelihood of receiving valuable feedback and positive reviews.
Providing Exceptional Customer Experiences
The first, and probably the most effective way to encourage customer reviews is by consistently providing exceptional customer experiences. When customers have a positive experience with a business, they are more likely to share their satisfaction with others. Focus on customer service and exceeding expectations.
Excellent Customer Service
Delivering exceptional customer service is essential. Businesses should create a customer-centric culture at all staff levels, where every interaction with a customer is personalised, on time, and exceeds expectations. Train and empower your employees to go above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction, doing the minimum just won’t cut it anymore.
Create Memorable Moments for Customers
Beyond meeting basic expectations, businesses need to create memorable experiences that leave a lasting impression on customers. Whether it’s through surprise and delight gestures, personalised recommendations, or customised solutions, these memorable moments increase the likelihood of customers sharing their positive experiences through reviews. This type of marketing also has a positive impact on social media shares and mentions.
Email Marketing Campaigns
Email marketing campaigns can be a powerful review platform. When sending review request emails, it is essential to craft compelling and persuasive text that capture the attention of customers. Personalise the emails, addressing the customer by name, and express gratitude for their past interactions with your business. Clearly communicate the value of their feedback and how it can benefit both the business and future customers.
Timing and frequency play a crucial role in email request campaigns. Strategically choose the right time to send review requests, shortly after a positive customer interaction or after a successful purchase. Be mindful of overwhelming customers with excessive review requests, as it may lead to a perception of spam. Strike a balance between results and respecting your customer’s time.
Utilising Social Media Platforms
Reviews on the Google Business platform are the most valuable, for the majority of businesses, but all reviews have a value. Social media platforms offer a vast landscape for engaging with customers and encouraging them to write reviews. Facebook for example can be excellent review platform
Engaging with Customers on Social Media
Actively engage with customers on social media platforms by responding to comments and mentions. Show genuine interest in their experiences, address any concerns or questions promptly, and express appreciation for their engagement. By fostering a sense of community and connection, you encourage customers to share their experience and leave reviews.
Encouraging Reviews through Social Media Posts
Utilise social media posts to prompt customers to leave reviews. Highlight positive reviews, testimonials, or user-generated content to showcase the positive experiences of others. Additionally, consider running contests or giveaways where customers can enter by leaving a review. This incentivises customers to share their feedback and increases engagement on social media.
Implement a Customer Loyalty Program
A customer loyalty program can be an effective way to encourage reviews, as well as fostering customer loyalty and repeat purchases. Incorporate a review component into your loyalty program where customers earn points, discounts, or exclusive perks for leaving reviews. By tying reviews to tangible rewards, customers are motivated to provide feedback and share their experiences with others. By providing ongoing value to loyal customers, you increase their likelihood of leaving reviews and recommending your business to others.
Make the Process Convenient & Easy
One of the keys to earning reviews is to make the process as easy and convenient as possible. Remove any barriers or friction that may discourage customers from sharing their feedback. Provide clear instructions on how and where to leave reviews, whether it’s through specific review platforms, your website, or social media channels. Consider providing direct links or buttons that take customers to the review submission page, to streamline the process further.
Showcase & Share Positive Reviews
When you receive a positive review, don’t let it go unnoticed. Showcase and share them across various marketing channels to amplify their impact. Feature good reviews on your website, social media profiles, or your email newsletters. This not only highlights the positive experiences of your customers but also encourages others to leave their own reviews. By sharing these testimonials, you create a cycle of positive feedback and social proof. Below is a recent example; the review section from the Wanderly Wagon website. These reviews are taken from Google , Facebook and TripAdvisor.
Monitor & Analyse Review Trends
Regularly monitor and analyse trends within your customer reviews. Look for patterns or common themes that emerge from both positive and negative reviews. This valuable feedback can provide insights on areas of strength and areas that may need improvement. By proactively addressing recurring concerns or issues, you can enhance your overall customer experience and potentially prevent these reviews in the future.
Engage with Reviewers Everywhere
While review platforms are a primary source for customer feedback, don’t limit your engagement to just those platforms. Actively seek out and engage with customers who leave reviews on social media, forums, or other online communities. Respond to their feedback, express gratitude, and address any concerns they may have. This personalised interaction demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction and can turn reviewers into loyal advocates for your brand.
Platforms for Managing Online Reviews
As your reviews pour in, businesses need effective platforms to manage and leverage this valuable feedback. These platforms and tools not only help businesses monitor and track customer reviews but also provide avenues for engagement, reputation management, and brand enhancement. You don’t always get to decide where people write their reviews, but our tip would be to choose one as your priority. For most businesses we recommend Google Business Profile.
Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile is a crucial platform, especially for local businesses, to establish a strong online presence and manage reviews from previous customers. By claiming and optimising your business profile on Google, you can control how your business information, and reviews, appear in search results and Google Maps. A Google review is hugely valuable to a local business because it’s a local ranking factor, and increases your search visibility.
Set up & Optimise your Business Profile
Ensure that your business profile is complete and accurate. Provide essential details such as your business name, address, contact information, hours of operation, and website URL. Add high-quality photos and videos that showcase your products, services, and happy customers. This comprehensive profile increases your visibility in local search results and encourages customers to leave reviews.
Responding to Google Reviews
Regularly monitor your Google Business Profile for reviews and respond promptly. Express gratitude for a positive review and address any concerns or issues raised. Demonstrating a commitment to customer satisfaction can positively influence the perception of your business.
Below is an example of a review from FutureProof Digital Google Business Profile.
Other Business Directories
Depending on your industry, there may be specific customer review sites that cater to your niche audience. TripAdvisor for the travel and hospitality industry for example. It’s essential to identify and engage with these industry platforms to maximise exposure of your business and the volume of reviews.
TripAdvisor for Travel Businesses
For businesses in the travel and hospitality industry, having a presence on TripAdvisor is a must. Claim your business profile, optimise it with accurate information and appealing visuals, then actively encourage customers to write reviews. A recent client, Wanderly Wagon in Galway, gets a lot of traffic and bookings from their well optimised and active TripAdvisor profile.
Tips for Positive Reviews in Niche Platforms
To maximise exposure and good reviews on niche platforms, actively engage with customers and respond to reviews. Encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences on these platforms, highlighting the unique aspects of your business that make it stand out in your industry. By building a strong presence on industry-specific platforms, you can attract targeted customers and establish credibility within your niche. Share these profiles on social media, and in the case of your Google Business Profile and TripAdvisor, feature a link on your website.
Reputation Management Tools
To effectively manage customer reviews across different platforms, larger businesses can use online reputation management tools. These tools provide valuable insights, automate processes, and streamline the review management workflow. If you receive more reviews than you can handle manually this type of tool might be for you.
Management tools allow businesses to monitor and track customer reviews from various platforms in one centralised dashboard, much like a social media management tool like Hootsuite. This saves time and effort by eliminating the need to manually search and monitor each platform individually. Real-time notifications and alerts ensure that businesses stay updated on new reviews and can respond promptly.
Many online reputation management tools offer features that automate the process of soliciting customer reviews and responding to them. These tools can send automated review requests to customers after a purchase or interaction. Additionally, they can assist in crafting personalised responses to reviews, saving time, while maintaining a professional tone.
Responding to Customer Reviews
Responding to customer reviews is a critical aspect of managing an online reputation and fostering positive customer relationships. Whether the reviews are positive or negative, businesses should actively engage with customers and demonstrate a commitment to making them happy. By responding thoughtfully and quickly, customer reviews become an opportunity for you to build trust and enhance your brand. Responding to reviews shows that you value feedback and are actively listening to customers. It provides an opportunity to express gratitude and showcase your brand’s commitment to its customer’s positive experience.
Responding to Positive Customer Reviews
Responding to positive reviews allows businesses to express appreciation and gratitude. By acknowledging their feedback, you reinforce the positive relationship you’ve built and encourage them to continue advocating for the brand. Responding to positive reviews also demonstrates that you value customers and actively engage with them.
Expressing Gratitude and Appreciation
Start by saying thank you for the positive feedback. Thank them for taking the time to share their experience and for choosing your business. Personalise the response by addressing the customer by name, whenever possible, to establish a more meaningful connection.
Personalise Responses and Showcase Brand Values
Craft responses that align with your brand’s voice and values. Use this opportunity to highlight key aspects of your business that the customer appreciated, such as exceptional service, product quality, or attention to detail. Personalise the response by mentioning specific details from the customer’s review, which shows that you genuinely read and appreciated their feedback.
Handling Negative Reviews
Addressing negative reviews is equally important, if not more so, as they provide an opportunity for you to rectify any issues and regain customer trust. Ignoring this type of review can damage your business’s reputation and discourage potential customers from engaging with your brand. By responding professionally to negative reviews, you show that you care about customer satisfaction and are committed to resolving any problems.
Remain Calm and Professional
Maintain a calm and professional tone when responding to an unhappy customer. Avoid getting defensive or engaging in arguments. Remember that your response is visible to everyone, and it is crucial to handle the situation with empathy and professionalism. Take a step back, evaluate the feedback objectively, and respond in a constructive manner.
Address Concerns & Offer Solutions
Acknowledge the customer’s concerns and address them directly in your response. Apologise if necessary and offer solutions to rectify the situation. Provide specific steps or actions that you will take to resolve their issue. Demonstrating a genuine commitment to resolving the problem shows potential customers that you are proactive in ensuring customer satisfaction.
Fake or Malicious Reviews
Occasionally, businesses may encounter fake or malicious reviews that aim to harm their reputation. While it can be frustrating, there are strategies to minimise the impact of such reviews.
Reporting Suspicious Reviews
Most review platforms have mechanisms in place to report and flag suspicious reviews. If you suspect a review is fake or malicious, report it to the respective platform. Provide any evidence or context that supports your claim. The platform will review the review and take appropriate action if necessary.
Minimise the Impact of False Reviews
To minimise the impact of false reviews, focus on actively soliciting genuine feedback. Encourage satisfied customers to leave their reviews and share their positive experiences. By increasing the volume of authentic reviews, the impact of false reviews can be diluted, and these days customers are much better at recognising the genuine feedback from real customers.
How to get Customer Reviews
In this guide we have explored the strategies and techniques for obtaining customer reviews and leveraging the power of online feedback. Customer reviews play a pivotal role in shaping consumer decisions and building a strong online reputation. By understanding the impact of customer reviews, implementing effective strategies to encourage feedback and responding to reviews in a timely and professional manner, businesses can harness the power of reviews to enhance their brand reputation, attract new customers, and drive growth.
Managing reviews often requires the use of platforms like Google Business Profile, as well as industry-specific review platforms. These platforms allow businesses to claim and optimise their profiles, respond to reviews, and maximise exposure within their respective industries. We have also discussed the importance of responding to both positive and negative reviews. By expressing gratitude and appreciation for positive reviews, personalising responses, and showcasing brand values, businesses can strengthen customer relationships and encourage further advocacy. When faced with negative reviews, it is crucial to remain calm and professional, address concerns, and offer solutions to rectify the situation.
Reviews are a powerful tool in establishing a strong online reputation and attracting new customers. By implementing the strategies and best practices discussed in this guide, you can become an expert at receiving positive customer reviews, leverage social proof, and enhance the image of their brand. Embrace these approaches, actively engage with customers, and watch as your reviews become a catalyst for business success.