An online review is a short write-up or a rating provided by a customer based on their experience with a particular business. Also known as customer testimonials and personal recommendations, reviews are powerful social proof and form a significant component of a business’s online reputation.
Reviews are also often the primary source of a company’s online reputation management and crisis management issues due to the fact that a lone negative review in certain circumstances can be powerfu enough to damage the online reputation of a local business. Reviews have so much influence because consumers tend to believe previous customers rather than yours.
Positive customer reviews and ratings are one of the most significant factors that influences ranking in a number of the local search engines such as Google Maps. When ranking your business Maps, Google looks at the quantity and quality of reviews you have collected across the internet. Google Maps aggregates ratings from a diverse variety of sources to get a universal rating for a business. Consequently, strong reviews on sites like Google+, Judy’s Book, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Trust Pilot, CitySearch, SuperPages, YellowPages.com and others will increase your chances of ranking higher in map search results.
As a local, small business, you need to actively search for online reviews. In terms of exposure and search engine optimization, it only makes sense that you should want as many reviews for your business as possible. This is because search engines notice when people talk about your business, and it makes your business appear more relevant to the online community.
In this comprehensive guide to collecting online reviews by Simon Waters, he explains the step-by-step process to collecting, managing and publishing your business reviews to Google:
Google Business Reviews – The Ultimate Guide
Google Business Reviews are the most important asset your company can own. Here’s how to collect, manage and publish your business reviews to Google.
Your business should collect reviews because they show your future customers that you are trustworthy, quite often before they even reach your website. Collecting reviews should only be part of your strategy though, because unless you publish your business reviews in Google, nobody is going to see them. You therefore need a streamlined solution to collecting business reviews and getting them shown across the Google and the web (including your own website, of course).
We’re also created a 5-part video series explaining Google Reviews in depth, which you can watch over on our YouTube channel.
What types of Google Business Reviews are there?
Reviews can appear in a number of places on the web, including your own website and third party sites such as Facebook, Tripadvisor, Amazon, Twitter, Yelp, Check-a-trade and many more. But the glue that binds all these sources of reviews together is Google. Once reviews are published across the web, Google can aggregate them by reading their content from those sites, and it presents reviews in the form of organic or paid stars in Google search results.
These Google Business Reviews are then presented to users who enter relevant search queries. For example, if you were to type a company name into Google, you will likely be presented with a list of results in the SERPS including, among others, the company’s official website, it’s Facebook page, perhaps any listings it has on Amazon, and (if it’s in the travel/tourism category) a listing on Tripadvisor.
In the following article by Review Leap, you’ll learn powerful strategies and guidelines for generating reviews for your online business:
Strategies for Online Reviews
What reviewers write depends on when they write it. The order of rating and writing a review can influence the reviewer’s own attitudes and how readers interpret the review. Reviewers rate products and consumers rate reviews. This feedback helps subsequent consumers focus on the “best” reviews. But what makes a good review?
There are a lot of online review websites – both independent and biased. The biased ones are not as important because they are mostly operated by competitors and most people know this. Independent reviews are the most genuine and the most influential when it comes to consumer behavior. Most of the comments appearing on independent online reviews, whether negative or positive, are honest. Therefore, consumers trust them more when trying to decide whether or not to visit a business. Your company should do everything in its power to generate strategies for positive reviews from your customers.
Review Management StrategyStrategies and Guidelines for Generating Online Reviews
Sometimes, all you have to do is ask your customers to go online and let the world know what they thought about your product. Most happy customers have no problem doing this, so there’s no reason not to ask. This can be extremely powerful in helping you quickly build up a solid profile of good reviews.
Many times customers will come up and personally give you a complement. This is a wonderful opportunity to request that they fill out a review card, and give you permission to post it online. You must be careful when developing strategies for soliciting online reviews. There are many pitfalls, which must be avoided in order to maintain an outstanding reputation.
There are several practices that should NEVER be done when attempting to generate online reviews for your business. These practices are unethical and sometimes violate Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations resulting in big fines:
No matter how you choose to run your business, it is inevitable that at some point or another, you will experience the tough situation of getting a negative online review. Negative reviews are inevitable in business. They are part of the game.
Unhappy customers, disgruntled employees and even unscrupulous competitors can hit your brand with harsh comments and online reviews. And, no matter how great your products and services, there will usually be at least one unhappy customer that take it upon themselves to leave a negative online review.
Generally, users expect to see a few negative reviews. In fact, the existence of a few negative reviews can make some people trust the positive reviews more, because they know they weren’t manufactured.
There will always be something about the way you have chosen to run your business that certain individuals will not like. This is why it is important to always monitor the review sites where you are listed so that when a negative comment is received, you are able to respond, and quickly.
However, no matter how bad the review, it would be a mistake to respond immediately when you are probably still feeling pretty emotional about the review. Give yourself 24 hours to respond, and always respond professionally.
Don’t be tempted not to respond at all. Not responding could give the indication that you simply do not care about that unhappy customer’s concern. When you do respond, show the world that you care by responding in a positive and professional manner.
The way you respond to a bad review will tell a prospective customer more about you than the person leaving the review, and may actually turn a negative review into a positive outcome.
No matter how negative a review, it is important not to take it personally. Treat it as constructive criticism or feedback.
The truth is, unless the review is purely motivated by malice or jealousy or is an outright fabrication, most negative reviews have some basis in fact, even if they are exaggerated. So, if the negative review is warranted, thank the customer and apologize for the bad experience.
Welcome negative business reviews an opportunity to show the world how you actually run your business by responding in a manner that is friendly, professional, genuine and in line with your policies and guidelines.
Being able to deal with the negative comments that you receive will also help you develop a reputation as a friendly, caring, helpful, knowledgeable and transparent individual and business.
If you receive a negative review, do not argue with the reviewer. Yes, a negative review can decrease your online reputation. However, you will only make it worse by picking a fight with the reviewer. Arguing with an unhappy customer may lead to them spreading even more negativity about your company, which could lead to even more chaos.
On the other hand, giving a positive response shows that you are open to criticism, willing to hear what the reviewer has to say, and willing to correct the problem. By responding in a positive manner, you will also encourage positivity from other customers.
Here are ten ways to deal with negative reviews should they occur.
Negative Review Infographic
Monitor Your Online Reviews
You need to know what customers are saying about your business and where they are talking about you. Setup Google Alerts so that you can monitor what is being said about you, your business, and your product or service so that you can respond appropriately. Use your review listing’s URL as the entry for the “Create an alert about…” Be sure to choose to be notified “as it happens”. Claim your listings page if you haven’t already done so.
Focus On Sources that Drive Traffic To Your Sites
It is not practical to monitor the entire web for every mention of your business, so focus your resources on places that actually drive traffic to your website.
When you discover a negative review, act quickly by acknowledging the review with a short response. Since negative reviews can sting, avoid giving a detailed response until you are in a much better frame of mind. For now, simply thank the reviewer for trying out your product or service and taking the time to leave a review.
Empathise With The Reviewer
Empathise with the reviewer by saying that you are really sorry that they did not enjoy the experience with your company. Explain that you’re currently looking into the matter so that it never happens again because customer service is a top priority with your company. Promise to return with a more detailed response as soon as you have completed your investigation into what happened.
Keep Everything Open & Transparent
Be sure to keep everything in the open so that the world can see what you did to resolve the problem. This will leave a positive impression on other prospective customers, letting them know that you really do care about customer satisfaction.
If the review is fraudulent, take action by flagging it. Respond to the review by indicating that it is fraudulent and has been flagged. Keep in mind that you will have to present your case to the moderator who will have the power to remove the review.
Request That Reviews With Profanity Or Personal Attacks Be Removed
If a review contains inappropriate language such as profanity or personal attacks, it is acceptable to get it removed. Inappropriate language is a violation of most reviews sites. Most popular review sites like Google My Business and Yelp have a flagging system that can get inappropriate or fraudulent reviews removed.
So, if you don’t have the power to delete reviews, notify the moderator. It is imperative that you have a policy if you choose to delete content at your own discretion.
After you have deleted the review, you can send a private message to the other party explaining why you have done so, and include a link to your guidelines.
If a review contains information that is inaccurate or incorrect, do not delete it. The author may simply be misinformed. If you just delete or ignore the comment and don’t respond, it will appear as though you’re trying to sweep it under the rug, and the misconception could spread and escalate.
Moreover, your community may have seen the post. If you don’t respond and promptly, it would appear as though you are arrogant or unconcerned about customer support, which can be detrimental to the online reputation of your brand. So, be proactive in educating the disgruntled customer. You can respond thus: “Thank you, but the more accurate information is…”
Engage The Reviewer
If a review contains information that is inaccurate or incorrect, do not delete it as the author may simply be misinformed. If you just delete or ignore the comment and don’t respond, it will appear as though you’re trying to sweep it under the rug, and the misconception could spread. If you don’t respond and promptly, it would appear as though you are arrogant or unconcerned about customer support.
If the author is clearly irate but is in the wrong, engage with him or her by using wording that diffuses their anger such as: “I hear what you are saying…”, or “I understand how you must feel about this…”, or “I can understand your frustration…” or “I am sorry that you feel that way…”, and then state your position.
When addressing the author, be sure to use their title and surname rather than their first name until you have built some rapport with the individual.
If the review has an element of truth or a mistake was clearly made on your part, respond and correct the situation quickly, offering some solutions. You could use words such as “I value all our customer opinions, and I am glad you have pointed this out to us. Here is how we plan to proceed on this…”
By being truthful and honest, you build up integrity and trust in your organization. Once you have resolved the problem, you can ask the author to remove or edit the review at their discretion to reflect the outcome.
Do Not Get Too Personal
When addressing the author, be sure to use their title and surname rather than their first name unless you have already built some rapport with the individual. Some people might get offended if you use their first name when you don’t know them personally.
Encourage Customer Reviews
Reviews are vital for reassuring prospective customers and increasing sales, so encourage your customers to leave reviews by asking for feedback. Make it as easy as possible for customers to leave a review. Don’t incentivise customers by offering a discount or reward to everyone who leaves a positive review.
Share All Your Reviews
Be sure to share both your negative and positive reviews. Prospective customers expect to see a few negative reviews and may become suspicious if every review about your business is positive. As contradictory as it sounds, negative reviews can add a layer of credibility to your business, rather than diminish it.
A lot has been written on how to deal with negative reviews. But knowing how to deal with positive reviews is sometimes just as important.
When you receive a positive review, it is important to acknowledge the customer who wrote the review. This will demonstrate that you truly value the opinions of your customers. This will make them feel happier and engaged with your brand. This also presents the perfect opportunity for you to connect with these customers.
Fake Positive Reviews
As a small business owner, maybe you’ve felt desperate to build positive customer reviews on the various online review sites. Whatever you do, be ethical about it. Posting fake reviews in order to enhance your company’s reputation is wrong and doesn’t work in your favour.
Not only that, consumers today are much smarter than that and can usually tell a genuine review vs. a bogus one. This only hurts your reputation – it really doesn’t help at all. If your potential customers – or even existing customers for that matter – sense that you are creating and posting fake reviews, they will run the other way. They will wonder what else is “fake” about your company and avoid you at all costs.
Believe it or not, there are ethical ways to build your online reputation, which will result in better customer relationships, as well as a surge in new customers. For instance, you can simply start asking your happy customers to leave “real” reviews. If your company is providing the level of quality and service that your patrons expect, this should be an easy task.
Most people today don’t mind going online to post a review of companies that they are satisfied with, although it does take a little more work sometimes. People are quick to go online and post reviews when they’re not happy, but if you simply ask your happy customers, they are likely to post a review as well.
Creativity and very deep thinking are necessary when it comes to motivating your customers to leave genuine reviews – faking it is just not worth it. In fact, it could cause the opposite effect, which is the last thing you want.