Now that you’ve set up your Google My Business page and followed all the steps to optimise it, it’s time to start getting customer reviews for your products and/or services and consider the impact they will have on your business and search ranking.

Implement a Review Acquisition Strategy

Developing a strategy will require you to get creative. Different strategies work well for different businesses and while it would be impossible for us to cover every scenario, there are a few things that you should never do to acquire reviews:

  • Don’t pay for reviews – and don’t pay marketers who pay for reviews either.
  • Don’t pay anyone to post reviews (genuine or not) – Consumers should always post their own reviews directly on all third-party platforms and neither you, nor your marketers should have influence on what they post about you.
  • Don’t review your own business and don’t prompt your staff to do so either.
  • Don’t set up a location in your place of business to ask for reviews. If an IP address is being shared among many reviews on any one platform, this might lead to those reviews being flagged. Even wi-fi can cause review filtering, but there’s not much you can do to stop customers who review you in this way, especially if you offer free wi-fi.
  • Don’t negatively review your competitors – it’s against the rules of most review platforms and let’s face it, just plain unsporting.
  • Always respond in a way that will assure future consumers of your professionalism.
  • Don’t ignore the rules of review platforms. Neglecting to play by their rules can lead to review removals, messages on your public profile that publicly shame you and in some cases, can lead to litigation.
  • Don’t neglect your website! This is your most important tool in your marketing arsenal and it’s extremely important to use it as a platform for displaying honest reviews and testimonials.

Once you’ve become a master at avoiding these pitfalls, you can start experimenting with a variety of techniques for encouraging consumers to review your business.

Make Your Company Complaint Friendly

A complaint can easily turn into a negative review. If you catch it before this happens, you’ll save both your customer and your company time and effort. There are steps you can take to make sure you’re resolving as many issues as possible with your customers:

  • Let your customers know that if something is unsatisfactory, to let you know.
  • Put a mobile-friendly complaint form on your website.
  • Regularly check social media discussions regarding your brand and jump in with offers to make things better for consumers who are expressing a negative sentiment.
  • Make sure that any staff dealing with customers make a point of making sure that everything is to their satisfaction.
  • Don’t underestimate the value that complaints offer. Complaints can offer a plethora of inspiration for improving aspects of your business that aren’t satisfying your customers.

There are some marketers have estimated that it can cost nearly 25 times as much to win a new customer than it would to keep an existing one happy. And a recent survey that discovered that only 13% of consumers are happy to do business with a company that has a 1-2-star rating. It’s important to understand that businesses should strive to resolve complaints quickly and efficiently before they escalate into negative reviews.

Claim Your Profile on Major Platforms

There are many platforms that allow owner responses. This provide a great opportunity to contribute to the online conversation that surrounds your brand. You can thank customers who leave positive reviews and engage customers who have left negative ones to try and win them back.

To participate, you need to claim your business profile on the various websites and platforms your customers are using. Simply search for your business in Google adding the word “reviews” and compile a list of those websites that rank highly for your brand. If you’re a brand-new business, see where your competitors are being discussed. Chances are that those sites will be important for your business too.

A Google My Business listing is now an essential for local SEO. It’s free to set up and one of the best actions you can take in improving your local SEO visibility. Consumers are 38% more likely to visit and 29% more likely to consider buying from your business when you have a complete Google My Business page.

The Negative Review

As a business owner, you will encounter a negative review or two at some point. The trick is to remain calm and have a strategy. While a bad review is not the end of the world, it is the last chance that the business will likely have to make amends and win back the customer.

The most important thing is to not respond in unprofessionally. Regardless of who is to blame, it’s up to you to use every skill you possess to apologize and make amends. You might not only win back that customer, but other future potential customers who read the review gain a favourable impression of how the company treats its patrons.

The next step should be to carefully craft a response. There are a few tips to bear in mind. Firstly, don’t blame the customer or accuse them of lying or exaggerating. Also, don’t refuse to apologise or use unprofessional language.

The first thing that you should do is apologise and accept complete responsibility as the owner of the business. Acknowledging that the customer is unhappy and has not had a favourable experience can go a long way to restoring the relationship with them.

The next step is to express your commitment to making amends if the customer gives you the opportunity (A refund, a meal on the house, a replacement product etc). You should show a commitment to fixing the issues that they have raised and explain what action you will take/have taken to do so.

Most importantly, keep it brief and sincere. You might be surprised to see how often an empathetic and generous business owner’s response will prompt a customer to amend their review reflecting their new impression of the care they receive.

Express gratitude to your positive reviews too. Being proactive in building a sense of engagement with your customers can go a long way in increasing brand loyalty.

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