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Monique Bouchard Monique Bouchard
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The Marketing Edge - Online reviews: The Good, the Bad and the Opportunity

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When you look online and see stars, many or few, you’re given a unique opportunity for engagement with your customers.

Do you know how many stars you have?

If you don’t, you’re not alone. However, it is something that you need to care about as a business owner in order to be prepared to work with clients who do – and have read reviews about your business. You want your head in the stars, not in the sand!

People are finding and reading reviews of your business online, influencing their decision before they’ve even gotten to know you. An annual survey by BrightLocal showed that in 2017, 68% of US consumers reported that positive reviews made them more likely to use a business while reading negative reviews made 40% of consumers not want to use a local business. And 85% of consumers report that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

This same study found that a growing number of customers don’t even visit a business’s website after reading positive reviews, instead choosing to directly contact that business. It’s clear that good customer experiences have a substantial rate of return!

Whose reviews matter most?

Yelp, Facebook, Google, and the Better Business Bureau are among the most read, but there are many other sites, including Amazon and Angie’s List, which offer customers a place to talk about and rate their experiences.

The good

It’s great to be caught being good! In addition to being a reason that new customers come to your business, good reviews are great testimonials worth sharing on your website or via social media.

When you engage with a reviewer, thank them for their encouraging comments and express that you’re happy they had a good experience. This exchange feels good and strengthens your relationship with the customer, encouraging them to spread the good news!

The bad

But what if you are looking and the stars aren’t aligning? Even this provides valuable information preparing you to offer better customer service going forward.

  •     Don’t remove bad reviews. Ensure that at a minimum the reviewer knows that their complaint was heard.
  •     Think about the reason for the review you received. Was it a learning moment or a one-time fluke?
  •     Respond (with calm and class) to the customer gave a poor rating. Address any issues that the customer has brought to light – take responsibility, express empathy, and offer a solution – because that’s very dependent on the situation, sometimes it is best to work on complex situations offline.

Other customers appreciate seeing issues resolved and your effort to solve the problem may even transform an unsatisfied customer to your biggest cheerleader as they share how you made the situation right.

The opportunity

To get reviews, encourage all your customers to leave a review for you – more people are willing to give a review and testimonial than you may expect and when you’re the one asking, you’re more likely to get more positive feedback.

  •     Post a follow-up comment on the review thread about how the situation was left and what steps you took to make your customer as satisfied as possible.
  •     Ask every customer to review you and give you feedback – make it a part of your routine, perhaps when you finish a job or hand the customer a receipt;
  •     Place a sign or suggestion cards at your business asking customers to review their experiences and where/how to do so;
  •     Add the request and review site URL to invoices and other materials customers receive;
  •     Ask personally and individually for reviews (you could even include a link in your email signature to the site you’ve decided is most important).

Of course, you want to share your reviews on your website and social media channels – reading reviews can inspire others to chime in with their experiences too.

Reviews are powerful and can have a strong impact on any business or organization. Being prepared to work with your customers when they’re unsatisfied and be happy with them when they’re sharing great experiences will make you a customer service superstar!

(Monique Bouchard is an account manager and content creator for Sutherland Weston.)

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