“I’m a little nervous about a company with five stars and perfect reviews.”
“I feel most comfortable when a business has at least a three-star rating.”
“I trust a brand more if they have at least some negative reviews.”
It’s hard to know what exactly influences consumers when it comes to online reviews, but there’s one thing we do know for certain: they matter!
Online reviews are everywhere these days. Google, Facebook, Yelp, and hundreds of other review sites are out there for consumers to browse. That’s because research shows consumers read reviews before making a purchase – roughly two-thirds of U.S. Internet users.
Bottom line: reviews about your business are extremely valuable.
Here’s a look at how frequently consumers of all ages utilize reviews to influence purchase decisions:
Obviously, it’s in the best interest of your business to have positive online reviews and feedback. The reality is, you’re going to get a less-than-perfect review, and you’re going to have to deal with it.
To help you learn how to earn awesome reviews and handle the rest, here are a few tips you can keep in your back pocket.
How to Earn the Best Online Reviews
1. Give the best customer service. The honest-to-goodness path to great online reviews stems from excellent customer service. When customers have an experience that goes beyond expectations, they’re more likely to tell others about it. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to buy from a business that’s been recommended by someone they know. Be sure your customers receive the best possible service at every point in their relationship with your business so that it can be reflected in their online reviews.
2. Make it easy. When you make it easier for customers to leave a review of your business, the more likely they will do it. Include icons or links to your review pages in your email signature and on your website. Consider sending emails to your customers after they’ve ordered or received a product or service, asking them to review your company or the experience. I’ve even been to some businesses that have a tablet set up on-site, for the sole purpose of encouraging reviews from customers. This doesn’t guarantee you’ll always receive good reviews, but it does make it way more likely you’ll acquire the reviews in the first place.
3. Respond to negative reviews. There will come a day when you receive a not-so-good review of your company. The good thing is you have the opportunity to salvage the situation by responding quickly to the review and offering the best customer service. If you can solve the customer’s issue or address why they left a bad review, then you may just be able to get them to take down the negative feedback and instead put up a positive review in its place. It will also show other potential customers that you value customer satisfaction and can quickly rectify any issues.
How to Deal with the Rest
When a negative review happens, it can be tempting to fight back or “get even.” Some businesses prefer not to say anything at all. It can also be tough to discern when is a good time to respond, but the fact is it’s almost always a good idea. (One exception is when a customer review includes threats to you or your business.)
Here are a few tips for handling the situations with grace:
1. Apologize and show concern for your customers. For the most part, customers want to be acknowledged and understood. They want to know you are listening and you care. The best way to demonstrate this is to apologize and respond with compassion and concern for the matter at hand.
2. Ask them to contact you privately. The last thing you want to follow up a bad review with is more negative feedback. Instead of airing the problem in public, request the customer send you a private message on social media or an email where you can address the concern individually.
3. Correct the problem immediately. Even if you do not have the authority to fix the problem, assure the customer you will communicate with someone who can. Then, stay on top of the issue until it’s resolved.
4. Ask the customer to change their review. Once you are sure the customer is satisfied, ask him or her if they would consider removing the negative review or editing it to show their issues were addressed.
Businesses need online reviews to be successful online and offline. Look for the right sites where you can be reviewed, offer up the best customer service, and continuously look for opportunities to ask your customers to review your business. It’s possible to earn positive online reviews and handle the rest in a way that reflects well on your company.