It can be tough for business owners to decide to start managing their online reviews. If they don't already have reviews they may think that asking for them will bring the complainers out of the woodwork - they do seem to be the most active!
Reviews can be a very, very successful way to help win over a prospective client before they contact you. They can also keep that client from contacting you if they are negative, stale or even so-so. So what do you do?
Like everything online - be honest and deal with it head on.
Be Aware Of Your Business's Online Profile
There are many places where a potential client can find information about your business and they can access that information at any time during the sales cycle. A prospective customer is looking for information about your business that proves that you can do it better than your competitors, and the best way to showcase that is customer reviews.
Build Your Online Profile
Now that you've researched what already exists on the Internet about your business, it's time to create a profile that will wow potential customers! A great way to create online buzz about your business is to encourage existing customers to review your business. For example, Crock A Doodle offers customers a $5 gift certificate to use for their next visit if they write a review on Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages or Google Places. This is a great strategy, because not only does this ensure repeat customers, but those repeat customers are likely already very happy with your services, and will post a great review!
Correct Whats Causing The Bad Online Reviews
If you have negative reviews that are legitimate concerns, then you have some work to do. First, correct the problem that is getting you the bad reviews. Seems pretty straightforward right? Maybe not. I had a previous client that had 5 locations and each location had at least 3 negative reviews about a particular employee that worked at all 5 locations. I asked the business owner about the reviews and he just smiled and said that sounded like him. What!? I asked if he had talked to his employee about it. He said no, he's been here a long time. Then he said, "so can you bury my negative reviews with positive ones?" Sure, but why bother? Bottom line: correct the issues instead of hiding them.
Crock A Doodle does a great job taking care of their customers and listening to any feedback in store. The Online Review Handout acts as a buffer to address any potential issues and encourage positive feedback. By reaching out to potential bad reviewers before they have the chance to post something negative, Crock A Doodle can control the situation and learn about their mistakes without it affecting their business negatively on the Internet.
Use Google+, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook etc. Reviews to Your Advantage
Online reviews are a great source of feedback about your company and service. Try not to look at a bad review as defeating. Every business has a bad day or a bad customer. How the management and staff of that business handle a negative situation is the true test.
Once you have responded to any bad reviews and thanked the positive reviewers, take a look at the reviews themselves. Are the reviews giving you a starting point for improving your business? Product, service and staff issues can all be identified in customer reviews. In the past that kind of client feedback came at a cost. Now that information is more freely given but its given publicly. It can be found on a Yellow Pages listing, on your Google Local Business Listing, on Facebook and on any of the major business review sites like Yelp. You should consider all of these online destinations as potential sites to monitor and to encourage your customers to give you feedback.
The Action Plan
- Identify potential review sites for your business
- Check to see if you have any existing reviews
- Record and respond to all the existing reviews
- Monitor the review sites for new reviews
- Encourage your clients to post a review of your business on one of the review sites.
The BIG tip: Make it easy for them. Not everyone is internet savvy and some of the review sites can be confusing. A handout with some basic instructions helps the process, throw in a link & QR code to the desired review sites and we're getting somewhere.