Reviewing the Importance of Online Reviews

When was the last time you counted your stars? I’m not talking about the remote bodies of light in the night sky or your favorite actors on the big screen. I’m talking about your reputation. Do you know how customers perceive your business and products? The number of stars, thumbs ups, and written reviews you receive can serve as an asset. To be successful, it’s important for you to understand the value of reviews and how to manage your online reputation.

We live in a world where customers can turn potential buyers into in-store sales based on positive or negative reviews. Over 70% of consumers seeking tires or auto services start the purchasing process online where they can read reviews written by shopping peers.

The bottom line: Consumers trust reviews to make purchase decisions.

Knowing How and When to Obtain Online Reviews

As a business owner, it makes sense to look at reviews as both a marketing tool and a business improvement opportunity. But utilizing reviews first requires you to have them. What can you do to get customers to engage positively with you online?

From a marketing perspective, successfully working with reviews takes a bit of effort both offline and online. Before they depart from your shop, try asking satisfied customers to post a review for your business online. Another way to obtain reviews is by offering incentives. For example, you can give customers a receipt that asks them to complete an online review (or survey) in return for the chance to win something. Discounts granted in exchange for reviews are also a popular method for enticing customers to review your business.

What about “beating the system” and posting fake reviews? No one needs to know you’re pulling the strings, right? Hold it! The Internet is full of careful consumers and tech savvy individuals who can discover the truth. You don’t want to deal with the damage your reputation will receive when you’re caught misusing review websites. In addition to resulting in bans from review websites, legal actions can be taken against your business. Instead of posting fake reviews, simply do good by your customers and encourage them to do good by you.

Choosing the Right Review Channels and Handling Reviews

No matter how you encourage customers to leave reviews, make sure you narrow your focus on where you want your reviews posted. You can lead customers to your website, your Google+ page, or your Yelp! page among others. For the best reach of reviews, I recommend using Google+ or Yelp!

Once you claim your free business listing on Google+ or Yelp!, you can identify yourself as the owner and respond to reviews. This is a great way to engage with your customers. No business is perfect, so responding to less than perfect reviews displays a genuine passion for customer satisfaction on your part while also providing you with the opportunity to turn that unhappy customer into a satisfied one who will return to you in the future.

When responding to reviews, keep the tone of your response professional and positive. Keep your responses concise and to the point of resolving the customer’s issue. Be sure to thank the reviewer for his or her business and feedback. Remember, all of your responses are displayed publicly for all to read. After resolving an issue, gently ask the customer if they would update/edit their original review to reflect the new experience.

Both Google+ and Yelp! offer many more tips on how to respond to reviews. Review their guidelines before you respond and start engaging your customers online through reviews.

Blog post written by Nicole Matthews, Net Driven. To learn more, visit www.netdriven.com