With online reviews you can gain customer trust, get found online, and get ahead of your competition.
The presence of online reviews can be the difference between your company doing “just okay,” and being a rock star.
In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the importance of online customer reviews, and how critical they are to the success of your business.
Whether you sell widgets, provide a service, have a brick-and-mortar retail location, or work from a virtual space, today’s consumers are checking you out online.
That means that before Jane books a cleaning with a new dentist, or before John purchases a new central AC condenser from the local vendor, they are cruising the web for unbiased feedback from other customers.
This is called social proof – proof that everyday consumers have liked your product or service. When you have significant social proof, potential customers are reassured, your company’s credibility is boosted, your search engine rankings improve, and you gain customer conversions.
Or, in simpler terms: the presence of online reviews can be the difference between your company doing “just okay,” and being a rock star.
Before you discount the validity of my premise that online reviews can make or break a higher success level, let’s bust through a few common misconceptions.
Myth #1: Word of Mouth Referrals Are All That’s Needed
While verbal endorsements, peer-to-peer recommendations, and referrals are without a doubt important, they are only part of the big picture. In a world of smartphones, tablets, and 24/7 internet, you need to (1) be visible online, and (2) stand out from the competition.
If no one is talking about your business on the web, or worse, if your business’ online identity is virtually non-existent, you’ve lost today’s customer. Your potential customer is, without a doubt, seeking to learn more about you online, and if she doesn’t find what she’s looking for, she inevitably becomes a customer to one of your competitors.
Myth #2: A Negative Online Review Will Hurt Sales
In the aforementioned previous blog post, negative reviews can be a gift to any savvy (and higher-thinking) business-owner.
Why? Because negative reviews not only present an opportunity to engage with a dissatisfied customer and make things right (shouldn’t we always?), but also serve as an opportunity to publicly show with humility that you care about your customers, listen, are paying attention, and are responsive to client critique and concerns.
Trust me: responding well to negative reviews will resonate with your online community and potential customer base. The general public is smart. They will under-weigh a negative review here and there against a majority of good reviews, particularly when you show that you have addressed the complaint professionally.
And don’t overlook how a challenging review can also serve as a useful business tool for continuous improvement. Consider it a catalyst for identifying internal processes where enhancements and adjustments may be required.
Check out what to do in the event that you do receive dissatisfied feedback.
Myth #3: I should only have five-star reviews
Not so. Everyone knows that not one single company, product, or service can satisfy 100% of its customers 100% of the time, so if a consumer sees only five-star reporting across the board, it leaves a less-than-legit impression. A slight variation lends authenticity, so if you get a mix of good reviews, great reviews, and of course exceptional reviews, consumers know the content is genuine.
Myth #4: I don’t have enough customers to start doing this yet
If you’re just starting out as a business and don’t have any finished projects yet, consider reaching out to existing customers and asking for an “in-progress” review. Not only does this get you started with the process, but it’s also a great way for you to take your client’s temperature as the project is progressing, and foresee any hiccups that may need to be addressed short- or long-term.
Myth #5: It’s Too Difficult/Confusing/Time-Consuming
If you manage the entire process yourself, reputation management can involve time, planning, and manpower-execution on your part, but it’s not insurmountable. However, there are other options if you don’t want to DIY the process; you can utilize an online review service to manage and automate the entire process for you. Whichever method you choose, it’s more than well worth the effort and results.
When you have significant social proof, potential customers are reassured, your company’s credibility is boosted, your search engine rankings improve, and you gain customer conversions.
Do’s and Dont’s
- DO make it easy for your customers. Clear and easy instructions are best.
- DO know your customer base – what method of contact and/or social media platform will they be most comfortable using? How often should you follow up?
- DON’T send too many follow-ups. In fact, some of my clients opt to never send a reminder follow-up lest they annoy the recipient.
- DON’T ask employees, or friends and family members who are not a legitimate part of your customer/colleague base, to post reviews unless you have a very good reason for doing so. This will simply look like filler content and your viewers will see right through it.
- DO consider offering an incentive in exchange for the review. While I don’t personally utilize this method, I’ve seen many clients extend an offer in exchange for a review, with exceptional results.
- DO remember to thank your reviewer and express appreciation for the feedback.
To reiterate, the better you know your customer base, the better you’ll be able to craft a successful strategy.
Now Go, Go, Go!
Take these resources and run with them! Online reviews and online reputation management are great for enhancing your online presence, cultivating social proof, and boosting native search engine results. Want help? Contact me and I’ll be happy to give you a hand!