Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters
“We got another review on Google.”
“Someone reviewed us on Yelp!”
For many business owners, this can make their heart jump into their throats in terror. They assume it’s a negative review and that they might lose business because of it. It’s time to get more positive online reviews.
The phrase “digital disruption” can be found everywhere talking about how digital platforms can change how people operate their businesses and might even push them out of business.
Let’s start with a simple idea: The digital world is going to change your business. Period.
The question is: Will you learn to make it a superpower or let it destroy your business?
How to get more positive online reviews
There are a lot of things you can do to turn online reviews into a strength for you.
An article from Inc magazine starts like this, “Research shows that 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. And they make that decision quickly: 68 percent form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews.”
If 9 out of 10 people look at online reviews and most of them trust them as much as personal recommendations, you need to embrace online reviews. Sorry. They’re here to stay and they’ve become a massive part of the consumer’s life.
Here’s what you need to do make reviews an asset for your business:
Ask for reviews – Ask every customer for a review. There are services that will email and text customers and ask them for a review. There are a couple of reasons to ask for reviews: 1) Good reviews will bring you more business, and 2) Lots of good reviews will counteract negative reviews. If you’re doing good work, you’re sure to get more positive online reviews.
If 9 in 10 people are using online reviews for purchasing advice, you need to get a lot of great reviews on the internet. Those reviews will make you money as people show up at your doorstep simply because you have the best reviews in town. Plus, three awesome reviews aren’t enough. Smart shoppers know that a 4.5 star average of 2,000 reviews is better than 5-stars and only 20 reviews.
If you get a one-star review, it will take five 5-star reviews to get you to 4.5 stars. That might seem unfair, but it’s just math. The one-star review might be unfair and biased, but you have to deal with it. So, getting lots of great reviews will help you keep your average up.
Reply to reviews – Reply to all reviews! Even the good ones. Say thank you. Invite them back again. Express your gratitude for the review.
Deal with negative reviews – This should be its own book. How you handle negative reviews can make or break your company. Here are the steps for dealing with negative reviews:
- Thank them for the review and ask them to contact you out of the public eye. Ask the customer to call you or direct message you. You don’t need your dirty laundry out there any more than it already is. Make the message polite and short.
- Be nice and strive to make it right for them. Always keep your cool and talk to them about how you can fix things. This is especially important if you’re corresponding in writing. Everything you say might end up on the internet. You don’t want to find out the hard way that your nasty messages about someone’s mother are now out in the world for everyone to see.
- Confirm that they’re happy and ask for them to change their review. Many sites let the user edit their review. If they won’t don’t get upset. Just let them know that you’re glad to have helped them.
- Post a follow-up online – Post another comment that thanks them again and that you’re happy to have had the opportunity to fix the issue. Make it clear that they indicated they were satisfied and that you’re happy to help them any time they need.
Learn from your reviews – If you run a restaurant and you get three reviews in a week telling you that your French fries are terrible, you need to go see what’s happening at the fryer. If you get comments that your receptionist is rude, it’s time for a conversation.
Most people don’t take time out of their day to write bad reviews just for fun. If they have even a remotely legitimate complain, it needs to be put into the mix to see what you can learn from it.
Major chains, like McDonalds and Walmart, will look at thousands of reviews for trends. They use those trends to inform their business. If you have a lot of people all saying the same thing, it’s probably true.
Market your strengths – If many of your reviews say that you have the best customer service, that’s your marketing hook. Your ads can be written to highlight that customer service. If, back to the restaurant example, everyone says that your pies are amazing, your online ads should talk about pie. “Play to your strengths.” That’s an old axiom that applies to online reviews. You can discover both your strengths and your weaknesses through online reviews.
Online reviews are the new word of mouth
Once upon a time, about 20 years ago, when there was no internet, people found out where to eat lunch, what bank was great, and how to find an amazing mechanic by asking other people. Today, those word of mouth recommendations are mixed in with word of crowd review that everyone sees online.
It doesn’t require that you’re perfect. It does require that you do your best, recover from negative reviews, and that you take what reviewers say seriously.
If you follow the advice above, you’ll get more positive online reviews and find yourself turning online reviews into a superpower. Your business will be ready for the rest of the 21st century.