Word of mouth advertising has long been one of the best ways for businesses to build their reputations and influence new customers. And now with online review sites, such as Yelp and Google Plus, consumers’ opinions are spreading farther and wider than ever imagined. Consequently, as a business owner, if you can get these reviews to work in your favor, you can solidify your business’ credibility and gain exposure to massive amounts of consumers. After all, strong ratings can boost your position in search rankings, and many search engines even show a business’ number of “stars” within the search listing.
Of course, the power belongs in the hands of the people — they alone decide if they want to write a review and whether or not it’s positive or negative. While this may seem like you have no control over your online rating, in reality there are some things you can do to acquire more feedback and make the most out of it.
Create or Claim Your Business Pages
The only way people can review your business is if it’s listed in Yelp, Google Plus, or some other directory. So, the first thing you must do is to go to these sites, create an account, and start building an online presence.
You may discover that a listing for your business already exists. If so, make sure you claim it right away, because having an unmonitored, neglected page is possibly worse than not having any listing at all. You want consumers to know you’re an active online participant who cares about the opinions of your customers.
Once you set up or claim your listings, you’ll automatically be notified when new reviews are added. This makes it easy to keep track of what’s happening at your business (whether you’re there or not) and the level of customer satisfaction.
Optimize Your Listings
Your business listings will earn much more exposure if they are optimized for SEO as well as human visitors. One of the most effective ways to do this is by filling in ALL your profile information, including adding multiple photos. The more details you provide the easier it will be for buyers to make a decision, and pictures instantly make your business seem more trustworthy. Also, you want to ensure reviewers know the listing actually is your business, so they don’t leave a review on the wrong page.
Respond to Comments and Reviews
Depending on the volume of feedback your business gets, you may not want to respond to every review, but you should reply to a fair amount of them. If someone left a negative comment, address the issue and try to come up with some kind of solution. Even if you can’t win over that particular customer, other folks will read the comments and appreciate the fact that you cared enough to respond and tried to make things right.
However, don’t just respond to negative comments. Let all reviewers know you’re thankful for their feedback. This will show you’re truly are committed to customer satisfaction and will encourage more people to leave comments.
Invite Customers to Leave Reviews
It’s tough for local businesses to collect reviews, as it usually takes something highly memorable (good or bad) to motivate most folks to rate their experiences. That being said, many people would leave a review if they were asked or reminded to do so.
You can spark their initiative by doing things like placing Yelp signs or stickers around your building, encouraging ‘check-ins,’ giving customers a card that invites them to make a review (and explains how), and through verbal requests from employees. Also, on your website don’t forget to place Yelp and Google Plus links in a visible location.
A service like Trust Reviews makes things even easier by managing your entire review campaign and reaching out to previous customers for honest reviews. It automates the process, so you can generate a large amount of feedback in the most efficient way possible.
Showoff Your Positive Reviews
When you’re given a good review, get the most out of it by displaying it for many more people to see. Use it as a testimonial on your website, post it on your Facebook page, Tweet it, or print it in a newsletter. The more mileage it gets the greater influence it will have on prospective customers.
Although it’s difficult, try not to worry too much about the occasional negative review (you can’t please everyone all the time). However, if you start seeing the same complaint repeatedly, it’s likely time to look critically at your business.
Overall, if your business offers quality products and top notch customer service, you should be pleased Yelp and Google Plus have given the ‘voice of the people’ so much power. Customers are your best advertisers, and if you treat them well they will return the favor.