customer_loyalty.jpgRunning a business? One of the first things potential customers may do before deciding whether to purchase goods/services from you is check out what your existing customers have to say about you on online review sites like Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Trustpilot. If what those potential customers find on those sites is a lack of reviews, or worse still, a preponderance of negative ones, they’ll be pretty unlikely to frequent your business. In today’s blog post we take a look at ways to increase not only the frequency of your online reviews, but the positivity of them as well.

 Know the Rules of Specific Sites – Right at the outset you should know that different review sites have different rules that you’ll need to adhere to. Some sites say it’s against their guidelines to directly ask a customer to leave a review. However, even regarding those specific sites it may still be ok to remind your customers to, “check us out on Yelp” and so forth. Also, you’ll want to resist the temptation to offer incentives to customers for providing reviews as this can not only be a violation of specific review sites’ protocol but of FCC guidelines as well.

 Set Up Profiles on Multiple Sites – There are a lot of review sites out there these days. Take the time to identify the ones most relevant to your business. Then, make sure you fill out your business info (address, phone number, website, hours of operation, email, photos, etc.) so that A) you look as reputable as possible to potential customers and B) those customers know where to find you and when you’re open. Should your business info change (like if you move locations or get a new phone number) be sure to update your info on all relevant websites accordingly so it’s always up to date.

 Make Sure Your Business is Photogenic – Including high quality photos among your business info will help you stand out both on review sites and within local search. Not to mention, the more professional your images look, the more professional your business will seem to those searching online.

 Ask and You Shall Receive – There’s an old adage that goes something like, “if you want something, just ask.” While customers who have a negative experience with your business may unfortunately let that fact be known online, happy customers may take a little prompting. Interacting with a customer who has nice things to say about your business? Ask them if they would be willing to give you an online review to help you provide your products/services to additional consumers. As mentioned above, just make sure doing so isn’t in violation of the review site’s protocol.

 Get Your Staff On Board – If you’ve made securing more positive online reviews a goal for your business, make sure your staff knows this. Train them to solicit reviews from happy customers without being overbearing. You may also consider incentivizing them to offer excellent customer service by rewarding them for positive reviews in which they are mentioned by name.

 Use Social Media – Your consumers are offering their opinions on social media all day long. Tap into the fact by encouraging them to offer their opinions about your business on social media sites (they often have their own review systems by the way). After all, if consumers are following you on social media sites, chances are they will have some positive things to say about your business.

 Use Your Email Marketing – Have an email marketing campaign? Ask your loyal customers to help you grow your business by clicking on links that lead directly to the review sites you’d like them to use. Again, depending on the site, you’ll need to make sure you phrase your requests in a specific way so as not to violate their terms of service.

 Showcase Positive Reviews – Receive a customer review you really like? Expand the reach of that review beyond a specific review site by asking the author if you can share that review on social media, include it in your newsletter and so forth. More often than not the happy customer will happily step into the spotlight for you.

 Embrace Bad Reviews –  This is one of the most important ones … When you receive a bad review, resist the temptation to ignore it. Instead, reply to the bad review publicly by saying something like, “I’m so sorry to hear about your negative experience. I am sending you a private message to see if we can remedy this situation.” Customers, even ticked-off ones will be impressed with your responsiveness. You never know, you just might turn a bad review into a positive one.

 Research shows  that as many as 88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. That means you should be 100% committed to increasing your online reviews and their average star rating whenever possible (and permissible).

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