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When it comes to buying products or services, customers have always been influenced by the opinion of others, but whereas word of mouth only reaches a handful of people, now online reviews can reach millions of potential customers. 90% of consumers say they would trust peer recommendations from friends and family above any form of advertising, and 70% would also trust online reviews over advertisements. With these kind of statistics, it’s hard to ignore the impact, both positive and negative, that online reviews can have on your brand.
Why should you allow reviews
Although they’re not relevant to every industry, reviews form a huge part of the decision-making process for potential customers.
As we have already touched on, online reviews are trusted by the majority of consumers, and therefore, when positive, they are more likely to lead to a sale than via traditional, and often costly, advertising methods, making them an essential form of free marketing. Consumers like to do their research before they invest their hard earned money in your business, so if they can’t find a review, it may well work to your detriment, and you could lose out to competitors who are more upfront.
How to set up online reviews
Make sure your company is listed in local search engines and directories. Start with Google Plus Local, Yelp and Yahoo, and then explore any other listings specific to your area. Every company should be listed on Google Plus in particular, as this will additionally help to enhance your SEO. Once you’re listed, anyone can leave a review of your business.
Depending on your type of company, you should also consider setting up a profile on TripAdvisor, Trust Pilot or Reviews.co.uk. The more directory profiles your company has, the more you will enhance your online visibility, so it is good way to benefit your business, as well as customers.
How to increase your positive reviews
The simplest way to increase your positive reviews is to ask happy customers! If a client is particularly pleased with your latest work, why not make the most of the moment and invite them to write a review for you on your preferred profile? The same is true of customers buying a product, and repeat, loyal customers are always the best ones to start with. You have already earned their trust so now it’s time to make sure others know about your hard work and dedication.
Provide excellent customer service
If you believe in your company, others will too. Ensure each customer is treated equally and that quality is consistent across your business practice – invest time in training all staff so that you can ensure that high standards are met throughout the company. Try and put yourself in your customers’ shoes and consider what has driven you to give positive feedback about other companies the past – use this as a driving force to constantly ensure that you deliver a service that you would be happy to receive yourself.
Resolve problems quickly and politely
On occasion problems will arise in any business, but how you deal with them will can make the difference between a very good and a very bad review. As long as you are able to spot any issues quickly and accept responsibility, customers may be so grateful for your helpful and speedy resolution of the matter that they may then be more likely to give you a positive review than they would have been previously.
How to deal with negative reviews
It is a sad fact of life that you will be unable to please everyone all of the time, even if you pride yourself on providing a high quality product or service. However, when you do receive a negative review, see it is as an opportunity to display your diplomatic skills.
You can often reply directly to online reviews and your response may be visible to others, so choose your words carefully. Do not reply in the heat of the moment, as you may say something you will regret and do more harm than good. Remember, bad reviews can be made even worse by a bad response – don’t risk your reputation ‘getting your own back’ as this Blackpool hotel did to their detriment.
If you need to, ask questions to try to really understand what the problem was and, if it was preventable, ensure that your business learns lessons to ensure that it never happens again. If you have received more than one complaint about the same issue, take heed and address it urgently before you receive any further negative comments about it.
Make sure that the customer receives an apology and assurances that the matter will be looked into if unresolved, or that steps have been taken to ensure business practices will be improved as a result of their feedback. Even if, after investigation, you can see no truth in their complaint, you should apologise anyway, and in a sincere fashion. Remember that your response is a reflection of your company and that your professionalism should never be called into question by an immature reaction.
Continue the conversation offline
If the matter is particularly complex or hard to resolve, try and continue the conversation in private, and offer to contact or meet with the customer in order to find a solution. Not only will they appreciate the personal response, it also means that the discussion won’t be published in a public forum.
If you’d like more advice on how to increase the positive exposure of your brand, we offer a variety of services designed to improve your digital PR and enhance your SEO – contact us today to find out more.