Published on January 15th, 2014 | by Jose Vasquez1
Positive Online Reviews – Guest Post by Acuity Scheduling
This series is done in coordination with Acuity Scheduling as a resource for small businesses. Acuity Scheduling (@AcuitySchedulin) is an online scheduling platform that saves thousands of small businesses time by allowing their clients to book appointments online, on their own time, at any time, from anywhere in the world. For more information about services and pricing, visit AcuityScheduling.com.
“New research shows that consumers trust other customers’ reviews more than many other advertising efforts,” according to a University of Minnesota study. Similarly, a Zendesk survey conducted earlier this year found that eighty-six percent of consumers claim to be affected by negative online reviews.
Here’s something you might not realize: most of the businesses getting great reviews are working for them. It’s a tricky business and takes a thoughtful approach, so let’s go over some best practices and strategies for creating an engaged customer base.
Ask for Reviews
You can, and should, encourage customers to review your business. Just make sure you’re not breaking the rules or compromising your reputation (see below). Some business owners feel uncomfortable asking customers for reviews. That’s a mistake. Most customers understand the importance of online reputations and will be happy to help you as long as you make it easy for them.
Create Business Profiles
Creating business profiles on review websites will allow you to keep a close eye on customer feedback. The most popular review websites are Yelp, Yahoo Local and Citysearch. Click on the links to begin setting up your profiles!
You should ask customers who give you positive reviews to share their experiences on these websites. The more reviews and better ratings you get, the higher you’ll be listed when potential customers search for businesses in your area and industry.
Maintain a Strong Social Media Presence
Not all online reviews come from websites liked Yelp. In fact, if your customers aren’t regular Yelp users, their reviews may get pushed to the bottom. It’s just as important to maintain active and engaging social media pages so that customers can interact and easily recommend your business to friends and family. They’ll be more likely to help you if you’re easy to find online.
Dealing With Disgruntled Customers Online
Won’t having such a strong and accessible online presence lead to more reviews from angry and dissatisfied customers as well? The truth is that customers who have a bone to pick with you are going to do it anyway. It’s best if they can express their frustration directly to you. This allows you to confront and resolve problems head-on. The worst-case scenario is an unhappy customer expressing their negative thoughts to the rest of the world without you knowing about it.
Here are some steps to follow when dealing with an unhappy customer online:
- Be reachable – Maintain a strong online presence so that customers can reach out to you directly. Make sure it’s easy for customers to quickly locate one of your business pages online.
- Have the appropriate contact respond quickly – A quick response will show the customer that you take their complaint seriously. Make sure a high-ranking employee responds to show respect.
- Make the conversation private – If someone files a complaint publicly on one of your pages, respond to them privately. Send a thoughtful personal message responding to their complaint. If your business was in the wrong, apologize and ask for a second chance. Consider offering them a discount or some store credit. If your business wasn’t in the wrong, do not apologize. Whether you are right or wrong, having these conversations publicly can make you look bad.
Follow the Rules
Failing to follow the rules can ruin your business’ reputation and may even result in fines and other legal ramifications. What are the rules? First of all, you can’t pay customers to give you positive online reviews. This includes offering any kind of incentives for saying nice things about you. Another way businesses get in trouble is having employees create fake profiles to review the business disguised as customers. This is clearly unethical and dishonest. The same goes for creating fake profiles to bash competitors. It’s not worth it. Put in the time and effort to do it honestly.
The Bottom Line
The best way to increase positive online reviews of your business is to be proactive and provide an exceptional product or service with first-rate customer service. Be honest and follow the rules but don’t hesitate to ask customers for reviews. Before asking for reviews, create profiles on review websites like Yelp, Yahoo Local and Citysearch. Make sure you also have a strong social media presence so customers can easily share your business with their networks. Deal with unhappy customers delicately and do your best to turn negative experiences into positive ones.