Online customer reviews can make or break a small business. These days, potential customers are more likely to consult online reviews before doing business with a company. In fact, according to a 2017 study conducted by BrightLocal, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
What does this mean for small businesses? It means that managing your online customer reviews is more critical than ever. Suppose you’re not paying attention to what people are saying about your business online. In that case, you could be missing out on valuable feedback—or worse, driving customers away. Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to proactively manage your online customer reviews and protect your business’s reputation. This blog post will show you why customer reviews matter and how you can respond to them effectively.
Why Customer Reviews Matter
Customer reviews are essential for two main reasons: they improve your search engine ranking and build trust with potential customers.
Let’s start with search engine ranking. These days, Google’s algorithm considers the quantity and quality of online reviews when determining where a business should rank in search results. That means you need to actively collect customer reviews if you want your business to appear at the top of the list when potential customers search for keywords related to your business.
In addition to improving your search engine ranking, customer reviews also build trust with potential customers. According to the 2017 BrightLocal study mentioned above, 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews, so you must take the time to respond thoughtfully and professionally to both positive and negative reviews. When potential customers see that you care about what your customers think and that you’re willing to address any issues that may arise, they’ll be more likely to do business with you.
How To Manage Customer Reviews
Monitor Your Reviews
There are several things you should do regarding online customer reviews, the first being monitoring your reviews. The first step to managing your online customer reviews is knowing what people are saying about you. Set up Google Alerts for your business name and key products or services so you can stay on top of any new reviews as they’re posted.
It would be best if you also kept an eye on popular review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google My Business. These are some of the most popular places where customers will leave reviews, so it’s essential to check them for new content regularly. By monitoring your reviews, you can catch negative reviews early and address them before they cause too much damage.
Responding to Reviews—The Right Way
The final thing you should do is respond to all reviews, both positive and negative. When customers take the time to leave a review—positive or negative—it’s vital to acknowledge it. This shows that you are attentive to your customers and care about their experience with your business. Thanking customers for positive reviews is a great way to build goodwill and demonstrate your commitment to providing excellent service. When responding to positive customer reviews, thank the customer for their feedback and let them know that you’re happy they had a good experience. A simple “Thank you for your feedback!” will suffice.
It’s important to keep in mind that how you respond—or don’t respond—to negative reviews says a lot about your business. When responding to negative reviews, stay professional and avoid getting defensive. If you ignore negative reviews, potential customers will feel that you don’t care about your customers or their experiences. On the other hand, if you respond in a defensive or argumentative manner, potential customers will get the impression that you’re not professional or interested in resolving any issues that may arise. Neither of these is an ideal outcome.
It can be tempting to get defensive or lash out at the customer. But that’s almost always a mistake. Instead, try to find a solution that will satisfy the customer. Take a deep breath and remember that the customer is just trying to be heard. Respond professionally and courteously, and try to resolve the issue offline if possible. The best way to handle negative online customer reviews is to apologize for any inconvenience caused and offer to make things right. For example, suppose a customer didn’t receive their order on time. In that case, you might say, “I’m sorry for the inconvenience caused by the delayed delivery of your order. We’ll do our best to get your order out as soon as possible.” By taking responsibility for the issue and offering a solution, you’ll show potential customers that you’re professional and committed to providing them with a positive experience. This shows potential customers that you’re committed to providing an excellent experience for everyone who does business with you.
Asking for Reviews—The Right Way
Finally, another thing you should do is encourage customers to leave reviews. Don’t be afraid to ask customers for their feedback—but be sure to do it in a natural and organic way. The last thing you want is for potential customers to see your request for reviews as nothing more than self-promotion. Instead, focus on creating opportunities for customers to share their thoughts about their experience with your business spontaneously. You can ask customers to leave a review after they have made a purchase or provide an incentive for leaving a review, such as a discount on their next purchase.
The Don’ts of Online Customer Reviews
Now that you know how to handle online customer reviews, there are also several things you should refrain from doing when it comes to online customer reviews. The first thing you should not do is delete negative reviews. This will only make customers think that you cannot take criticism and are not interested in improving your business. If you must delete a review, explain why in a public forum so that customers know why the review was deleted.
Another thing you should not do is get into arguments with customers in the comment section of their review. This will only make you look unprofessional and will likely result in more negative reviews. If a customer is being unreasonable, the best course of action is to reach out to them offline so that you can resolve the issue without it blowing up into a public argument. Finally, never post fake positive reviews about your business. This is dishonest and will only hurt your reputation in the long run if customers find out that the reviews are fake.
Online customer reviews can have a big impact on small businesses—for better or for worse. But by monitoring what people are saying about your business online and responding professionally, you can proactively manage your customer reviews and protect your business’s reputation. Just remember: when asking for reviews, focus on creating opportunities for customers to share their thoughts about their experience with your business naturally. By following these guidelines, you can manage online customer reviews like a pro!