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Let’s be honest—Google is how potential customers often find small businesses. And Google reviews allow you to compare businesses and services based on other people’s experiences. Whether I’m looking for emergency air conditioner repair or the best taco restaurant in my city, I know that I’ll get all the information I need when the results and ratings of each business pop up.
Of course, when it comes to my quest for tacos, you better believe that I want the best option out there. If one restaurant has raving reviews on their Google My Business page, it’s likely I’ll be eating dinner there that night. However, if I find a taco place with a majority of poor reviews (or no reviews), I start to question whether venturing out for a shrimp taco would be worth my time (and my health).
Okay, enough about tacos. But my example illustrates one of the most important benefits of Google reviews: customer reviews tell the story of your company—and positive reviews can get you more business. So how can you make sure your small business has great online referrals? Read through our tips for getting and managing customer reviews—and if you need help, call us! We can do a FREE analysis of your current website and help you make the most of your online presence!
Ask for Reviews
For small businesses, online reviews are one of the best ways to get genuine customer feedback and an online version of “word of mouth” referral. Additionally, online reviews can improve your website’s visibility in search engine results for online searches with specific locations (also known as local search engine optimization). Once you correctly claim and optimize your Google My Business page, your company will stand a better chance of showing up in the local pack, which shows the top three results within your service area. The number of reviews and your star rating will be listed here:
In order to get these coveted reviews, you need to actually ask for them! When you provide your services to someone, it’s likely they will thank you afterwards and give you feedback directly. While it’s great to hear your customers’ opinions in person, an online review can be read and considered by potential customers in the future.
You may be wondering how to ask your customers for online reviews without coming off as prideful or bothersome. Don’t worry—a good customer will understand that you want to continue to grow in the community. Here are our tips:
Send an email
If you aren’t already collecting your customers’ email addresses, you should start! It’s a great marketing strategy, and it will allow you to easily ask customers for a review. If you provide a link to the review platform, your customers will be able to give an online referral with no hassle!
After you provide services for your customers, you want them to leave an online referral as soon as possible—that way, your great work is on their minds. Let’s say you own a landscaping company. After you complete a lawn care job for a customer, send your referral request e-mail right away. That way, your customer will be able to look out the window and see the work your company has done and give a detailed, thorough description of her results and experience.
Add a call-to-action banner to your website
Invite your customers to provide feedback directly on your website with an eye-catching banner right on your company’s website. Don’t be shy about reaching out to this audience—after all, they are already interacting with your business by exploring your site.
Make the call-to-action user friendly by providing an inviting message to your customers and adding a link to your Google+ page. If you need help adding this to your website (or if you don’t have a website at all), it may be time to consult an internet marketing company.
Make the Customer Review Process a Cake Walk
Once your customers are ready to leave an online review, make sure the process is simple! You don’t want your customers to have a negative experience trying to review your company; they may leave a shorter review because of it, or worse—they may not leave a review at all. So how can you make the online referral process simple and positive for your users?
- Provide directions. If you have customers who don’t have a Google+ account, include straightforward instructions for how to set up an account, find your company’s listing, and add the review to your Google+ page.
- Offer a guide to posting a review. It never hurts to send your customers a list of questions to answer in their review. Let’s bring back the landscaping example from earlier. You can ask your customer to comment on the timeliness of their yard project, the quality of customer service, their satisfaction with the end result, and much more.
- Be thankful. Be sure to show gratitude to your customers! You want them to know that you see their business as more than just another cog in the machine. By reminding them that you value them as customers, you will leave a positive impression as they complete their review.
- Leave an alternative. Some customers may have accounts on platforms, including Yelp and Angie’s List. You might even have customers who would prefer to hand-write a review or send it directly to you in an e-mail. Allow your users to leave a review the way they want to, and let them know that this is an option by putting this information at the bottom of your online review directions.
Respond to Existing Reviews
Now that you have reviews, it’s time to keep up with them. As a small business owner, you need to show that you are invested in your company. A great way to do this is by responding to the reviews on your Google+ page—this is a best practice recommended by Google, so listen up.
When customers see that you monitor and respond to reviews, they’re more likely to leave a positive review for your services. And, of course, if a customer does leave a negative review, you can take that opportunity to explain the situation, apologize, and resolve the issue.
How to Respond to the Good Reviews…
There’s nothing like positive reinforcement! When a customer leaves a positive review, be sure to respond with gratitude. A simple thank you goes a long way—and be sure to say you’re glad they had a good experience! If the customer mentions something that your business could improve upon, make sure to thank them for the feedback, too.
…And the Bad Reviews
It’s never easy to get criticism, but by responding to negative reviews, you can take control of the situation. It is very important that you take complaints and poor responses seriously—here are a few tips to keep in mind while responding to these comments:
- Take responsibility. If your customer has a problem with your services, it’s important to own the issue. If you’re just going to defend yourself and not address the customer’s feedback, you might as well not respond.
- Implement changes. After you address the issue, explain how you will avoid the problem in the future. This tactic is as much for future customers as it is for the person who wrote the review—wouldn’t you be more interested in hiring a company that cares about making changes that benefit its customers?
- End on a good note. Be sure to thank the customer for the feedback. You can say that it’s important to you that your customers are satisfied with your services—and their review helps you figure out how to make your business the best it can be!
- Resolve the problem privately. In order to avoid a public debate about your services, offer to call the customer and work out the issue. This is a great way to solve the problem away from the public eye.
When you respond to reviews—good or bad—you are giving your small business a personal touch and you’ll maintain control of your online reputation.
Get Reviews, Get Business
Now that you know what you should do, let’s quickly go over some practices that will prevent you from hurting your business and rankings.
- Don’t offer to pay people for reviews. Are you thinking about offering monetary incentives or discounts in order to get online reviews? Stop that thought process now! If one of your competitors finds out that you’re doing this, they can report you. As a result, you could be penalized by Google, which will make your search engine rankings plummet.
- Don’t get all your reviews at once. Google likes a company that updates their content on a consistent basis—regularly getting new reviews is an awesome way to stay fresh in the eyes of Google and your potential customers.
- Don’t post a review yourself. Posting a review about your own company can negatively affect your Google rank—and if you customers figure out that you posted a review about yourself, there’s a good chance they won’t trust you OR want your services.
By utilizing our tips, you can make sure you’re getting customer reviews and maintaining them, too! Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into your online presence. If you want to learn more about how to bring your website and online real estate to the next level, call the content marketing experts at Blue Corona. We specialize in helping small businesses grow with SEO!
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About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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