All about Customer Reviews.
Customer reviews give a business the chance to get discovered by more potential clients, sell more products and services and to see what’s working.
Introduction to Customer Reviews
This article sets out to provide all you need to know about customer reviews and how they can dramatically affect a local business like yours. Whether you love them or think they are a waste of time, one thing’s for sure, reviews have become increasingly influential in the way consumers choose a service or product.
What type of business are you?
Which of the following best describes your thoughts on reviews?
- As a business owner, I think customer reviews are a waste of time and have no bearing on my business. I don’t believe people read them and most of them are made up.
- As a business person, I appreciate that customer reviews are important but don’t understand how to make them work for me. I would like to use them positively but need some ideas.
- Or... I fully understand customer reviews are hugely important to the success of my business and I use them as a powerful marketing tool.
If you answered 1 now’s the time to keep an open mind – Take a few minutes to read through this blog and then return to the questions and ask yourself what type of business do you want to become. Also, search for your business category on-line and see what you find. Chances are your local competitors are reaping the benefits of reviews so why shouldn’t you
If you answered 2 then take time to study the contents of this document. We’ve provided lots of information about reviews but more importantly, some handy tips and ideas that are simple to implement
And if you answered 3, congratulations, you’re a forward thinking business that understands how reviews can be a powerful way of attracting more local business. To boost the quantity and quality of the reviews you receive read the following sections:
Why customer reviews are so important
The changing face of local marketing
Today, more and more people use the internet to search for local businesses and service providers and the swing away from more traditional marketing methods has seen a change in the way customers interact with businesses.
Gone are the days when simple flyers and adverts in the local press where enough to get people through the door. Nowadays, there’s an insatiable appetite for information and genuine customer reviews are a very visible way of judging a business in seconds. Reviews can make or break a business and the ease in which people can find you on-line means it’s unwise to leave it to chance and now is the time to act.
The motivation behind customer reviews
Although you may not be a reviewer it’s wrong to think others don’t leave reviews or more importantly, read them. The first thing to consider is what’s the motivation behind leaving a review? Chances are, unless prompted to do so, people who have had a positive experience are less likely to leave a review than those who feel things weren’t quite up to scratch.
Worse still, disgruntled customers may not say anything to your face but find it easier to write something on-line that’s there for everyone to see. It’s human nature after all to want some form of justice or closure.
That’s why it’s important to monitor your on-line presence and see what potential customers find when they look for your business or the service you provide.
Why reviews influence customer decision making.
Research proves that the number of customers that react to online reviews has dramatically risen over the last 5 years. So much so that many people use them in preference to personal recommendations and trust the experiences of others to influence their decision making.
If you’re still not entirely convinced, consider the following.
- When searching on-line, you find two local businesses providing the same service but one has over 30 five star reviews and the other has none, who would you contact first?
- You’re looking for a local service provider and none of your friends can recommend one, where do you look next? Chances are it will be on-line!
- You want to book a restaurant and you look up the one you’re driven past earlier, only to discover there’s 3 bad reviews – Would this influence your choice?
Now imagine this thought process replicated across all the possible people looking for your business. Even if this only applies to half of them...it shows the power of reviews should never be underestimated.
How customer reviews can directly affect your Google ranking.
Google leads the way for on-line searches which is why we’ve used it as a point of reference here. That’s not to say that other platforms can’t be equally beneficial for getting reviews as can social media. However, for now we’re going to concentrate on Google.
We’ve already explained how reviews can directly influence customer decision making but there’s also another massive benefit – getting your ‘Google My Business’ page higher up the listings.
The ‘Google 3 pack’ and map is often the first thing people will find when looking for local businesses so having your business in the top three, even for just one search term is vital. Although there are many factors that will determine where your page will rank, after citations from directories, 5 star reviews are right up there in importance. After all, Google likes to reward businesses that have local interaction and what better way of proving this than with reviews.
For more information about Google My Business page read the next chapter.
'Google My Business' - Leapfrog your competitors the easy way
How to get started.
Google My Business is a fantastic free tool and can be a great way of getting ahead of other local businesses. Used correctly, it can be your secret weapon in getting more local enquiries. There are two main ways of getting a page up and running as follows:
Google has probably built you one already.
This is great news as some of the work has already been done for you. If yours is an established business you may already have one without realising it. Google often builds pages for businesses as it finds them so search on-line and see what comes up! If you find your page, here’s what to do:
- Claim your business – Click on the button and submit the required information
- Make sure you have a Google account – This is free to set up
- Verify your page – To prove you are the business owner, Google will send you a pin number to access and edit your page
- Complete your page – Add lots of information and photos
Creating a new page.
If you’re a new business it’s more than likely you’ll have to build your own page but don’t worry – it’s a pretty straightforward process. You’ll need a Google account (if you have a Gmail account you’ll already have one!), if not it’s free to sign up.
- Login to your Google account – Find the Google My Business section and sign up
- Add information - Complete and submit the required information
- Verify your page – To prove you are the business owner, Google will send you a pin number to access and edit your page
- Complete your page – Add lots of information and photos
These points are only the basics - There’s lots of information readily available on-line so search for subjects like ‘Setting up a Google My Business page’
Optimise your local listing.
If you already have a Google My Business Page or have just built a new one, now’s the time to maximise its potential by optimising it. In essence, this means making sure it conforms to all the criteria Google uses to rank your page. Here’s the basic information you’ll need to work at...
- Complete all the sections and add as much information as possible
- Choose the correct category that best reflects the nature of your business
- Research keywords and add them to your listing (The words that describe your business)
- Build citations – This means signing up to as many free directories as possible
- Add content – Descriptive text that includes your keywords and photos
- Do regular updates – Show Google you’re proactive by writing posts and uploading pictures
- Get positive customer reviews – More about this on the next page
These points are only the basics - There’s lots of information readily available on-line so search for subjects like ‘How do I optimise my Google My Business page’
How customer reviews can directly generate more business.
Positive and 5 star reviews can help you generate more local business in 2 ways. Firstly, they show customers what other people have said about you...good or bad. More consumers use reviews to judge a business and they can directly influence their decision making process.
Secondly, Google uses reviews to show ‘social proof’ and 5 star reviews can directly boost your page’s rank. The more you have the better your chances are of reaching the all important top 3 spots. For instance, the combination of a well optimised Google My Business page that ranks high on the listings with positive customer reviews is more likely to attract more local enquiries.
To summarise... Google reviews can
- Boost your page ranking
- Provide customer reassurance
- Directly influence decision making
How to get more customer reviews
Asking customers for a review.
The fact is, many small businesses are brilliant at what they do but feel uncomfortable about self praise. The first thing to remember is ‘don’t be embarrassed to ask for a review’. If you’ve done a great job or provided a first class service you deserve it so get in there and ask away!
Politely asking for a review means your good work will be shared locally driving more people to your door and getting more enquiries. Use these simple suggestions and before long you’ll be asking all your clients for feedback with confidence!
“If you’re happy with our service please take a minute to leave us a review – As a local business we rely on customer feedback to build our reputation”
“If you’ve enjoyed the experience please don’t keep us a secret – Leaving an on-line review will tell other people about our business”
"We rely on customer feedback to continually improve our service – An on-line review about your visit would be much appreciated”.
Also, make it easy for people to leave you a review – Have your details easily to hand and include a request in all correspondence such as invoices and emails
Implementing a simple strategy.
Ok, so now’s the time to make a plan on getting more reviews to boost your on-line presence. The most important thing is to keep it achievable – You should make a plan for the long term that’s easy to implement as chances are, if it’s hard work you’ll start strong then things will tail off. Here are our top tips...
- Make sure you prompt all your customers for a review by simply asking them to support you as a local business. The more you ask the more you’ll get and don’t get despondent. Not everyone will leave you a review but if just 1 in 10 do so, numbers will soon build.
- Ensure all your staff members are on board as it has to be a team effort. A few minutes each week explaining the importance of reviews will go a long way in converting happy customers to 5 star reviewers.
- Make it easy for people to leave a review. Create a sign with your details on or better still, get some review cards that you can give to every client – See the next page for details
- Have a strong call to action on all your correspondence. Email signatures, letters and emails should all include a link requesting a review
- Reply to all reviews – This simple act goes a long way.
Now, make your plan, keep it simple and stick to it!
Review cards – a simple solution.
Review cards are an innovative and simple way to get more reviews. They are personalized to your business and contain a bespoke quick link that takes people directly to your Google page meaning reviews can be left in seconds – how cool is that!
Key benefits at a glance...
- Customers are taken to your page by either using a short link or via a QR code
- Personalized with your logo and telephone number
- Easy for you to give out to all your customers
- Professionally designed and printed
- Also available for Facebook and Tripadvisor
- The short link can be used on other correspondence
Find out more and order yours choose where you want to get more reviews.
Facts and figures that reinforce the importance of on-line reviews.
The importance of reviews has escalated over the last few years and today, they influence consumer decisions more than ever but don’t just take our word for it. The data below is taken from bona fide sources such as Google and other leading industry experts
84% Of people trust on-line reviews as much as a personal recommendation
- On-line reviews have shown to influence 67% of purchasing decisions
- 74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
- 90% of people read on-line reviews before visiting/contacting a business
7 out of 10 customers visit a business or make a purchase based on information they have found online.
Responding to customer reviews
Why you should respond to a positive review.
OK, so you've started to get some great reviews and people can read how great your business is on-line. It would be easy to sit back and rest on your laurels but there’s one more thing to do – respond to them. Simply login to your account and leave a short message thanking the reviewer. It may only take a minute or two but the benefits are twofold:
Social proof – Don’t forget, all your reviews are there for people to see and responding to reviews not only shows courtesy to the reviewer but illustrates to others that you’re a proactive business. Keep it short and sweet such as “Hey Fred, thanks for your review, we’re so pleased you were happy with our service” – Obviously you’ll need to write something that’s reflects what has been written but you get the idea!
Google loves social interaction – By responding to each review you’re not only thanking the reviewer, you’re also proving to Google that you interact with your customers. This will be picked up by the algorithms they use and will only serve to boost you page ranking.
How to react to a negative review.
Getting a bad review hurts right? It feels like a personal attack and thanks to one disgruntled customer, your on-line reputation is ruined. Your first reaction is probably to lash out and give them a piece of your mind or, worse still bury your head in the sand and ignore it. Wrong and wrong!!
The first thing to do is keep calm and act fast. Don’t forget, the wrong reaction will only further damage your reputation as everyone will see a very public slanging match and you’ll soon be in a no-win situation.
What to do next.
Assess the review and be honest with yourself. What best describes the bad review.
- It’s a malicious review or mistaken identity
- The review was genuine but a little harsh
- The review was genuine and the customer had a valid point
"Compose a response and always be courteous and polite – here are some tips on what to say..."
Malicious or mistaken identity
Calmly explain that you can’t identify or remember the customer saying something like. “We noticed your review and were disappointed to discover that you don’t appear to be a customer of ours. However, if you have a genuine concern about our service, please contact us via our website” Your other option is to contact Google’s legal department and challenge them to remove the review. However, this can be a long process and doesn’t guarantee success
Genuine but harsh
Thank the reviewer for their honest opinion and reassure them their experience was a one off blip and that usually, your service is first class. “We’re sorry to hear you had a bad experience when visiting us. We appreciate your honesty and want to reassure you that we take all feedback seriously and will use it to maintain our high standards”
Genuine and valid
Everyone has an off day – even the best businesses so don’t make excuses, own up and take it on the chin. Identify the problem and address the customers concerns. Blaming a supply chain error or a third party supplier sounds hollow and will only make you look bad. Take the comments on board and directly address them in your response – offer a discount or replacement if applicable. Remember, this is a public arena and all your potential customers will see your conversation so keep it positive.
Acting quickly also shows you’re serious about complaints so answer promptly and politely – in some cases reviewers will upgrade their review if they feel they have received a satisfactory response from you.
And lastly: You have redress to Google and can report a review as malicious, requesting the review be taken down.
The long terms benefits of customer reviews.
Building customer confidence.
As a business, all you want is your fair share of the local market and having a steady stream of clients offers security and a chance for growth. However, what motivates people to choose you over the local opposition.
Chances are your location will be a factor as will word of mouth and perhaps your website but is that enough? How do people view your business when searching on-line? With more people using the internet to find local suppliers and services, reputation and confidence are becoming increasingly more significant. Here’s where 5 star reviews are worth their weight in gold:
- People trust reviews.
- Customers value on-line reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
- Gone are the days when people dismissed reviews as made up by the business owner.
- A business with 5 star reviews stands out from the crowd on-line.
- A comprehensive list of genuine 5 star reviews offers reassurance to potential customers.
- ‘Google My Business’ listing without reviews can be off-putting.
The ‘Enhanced consumer experience’ factor.
In this blog post, we’ve explained the various ways that reviews can directly help your business get more customers and the influence reviews have had on the local business landscape.
But what about the way they can help your business indirectly?
Proactive businesses that actively pursue customer feedback not only get more positive reviews but also naturally up their game. The incentive of a 5 star reviews (or possibility of an adverse one) means service improves and can lead to a more positive attitude among staff.
With every customer being viewed as a potential reviewer everyone has to perform to their best which creates the ‘enhanced customer experience’ within your business.
Therefore – Treat every customer like royalty and always ask for a review!
There’s no doubting the importance of reviews in the modern marketplace, especially for local businesses. More and more people rely on them as part of their decision making process and the business that ignores them is not only missing a great opportunity but also risks being left behind their competitors.
If you do nothing else...at least consider these 5 key aspects.
- Search for your business on-line and see what you find.
- Check your local competitors and see how many reviews they have
- Ask more clients for reviews
- Make it easy for happy customers to leave you a review
- Adopt a plan, make it simple and stick to it.
We hope you have found this publication interesting and of benefit – for more concise information about reviews and how they can help your business attract more local enquiries why not visit our blog page; www.review.cards/blog/