The votes have been cast. The polls are closed and the verdict is in. Online reviews have won. According to a recent Pew Research study, 82% of U.S. adults say they “at least sometimes read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time,” including 40% who say they always or almost always do so.
The question isn’t whether they are important. The question is “What are you going to do to leverage their importance and turn that indisputable fact into real-world success?
First, let’s take a look at the playing field. Despite their importance, online reviews remain very much a greenfield opportunity. Only 23 percent of customers have every submitted an online review or rating.
So, you want to increase your Google Reviews, but you’re not sure where to start? It’s simple.
Just ask for Google Reviews.
It goes without saying that you can increase the number of Google Reviews simply by asking. But a funny thing happens when you ask for reviews. The quality increases substantially. Without a direct request, reviews tend to be completed by those that were sufficiently motivated. And this tends to skew negatively. But requested reviews tend to review more positively than unsolicited reviews.
Help Customers Know What to Do.
A surprising percentage of customers have never left a review and have no idea how to do so. Make it easy for them. Many online reputation management software packages allow a business to text or email their customers seeking a review. The best ones collect a short review right there in the body of the message. These software packages automate the process, leaving you to run your business–which is a huge plus.
Set up profiles in the services most frequently used by your customers. If you have a restaurant, that’s likely Yelp. Google and Facebook are more general, but should absolutely be claimed and have reviews directed to them by business owners from all verticals. Here are the links to set up your business on each of these.
But some specific business types, like doctors and lawyers have vertically-specific review sites. Whatever those are, make sure your profile is set up there and is easy for your customers to find.
If you have regular communication with your customers, try reminding them of the importance of online reviews to your business. During these reminders, you always want to let your customers and patients know that your Google profile is the place they should be leaving their reviews. If they had a good experience, they’ll want to help you out.
Provide Multiple Touch Points.
Remind customers and patients that you’re always looking for Google reviews by pointing to your designated review profiles on all receipts, e-mail sig files, via signs in your store, and through your call center hold tracks. You never know which medium is important to a particular customer and these are free, or nearly free opportunities.
Respond to Every Google Review
Customers that see you as an engaged business owner will be more likely to engage with you. Demonstrate that taking care of customers that may have been wronged is a powerful review itself.
Perhaps the single-best way to win in any activity is to model your behavior after the best in the business. In the case of online reviews, Amazon is head and shoulders above others. What are they doing that you could borrow from?
Just Do It.
When all is said and done, the most important thing is to decide on a plan and just do it. If you’re busy and can only do one or two of these, asking your customers for reviews and responding to all reviews are the two that can make the most profound impact on review numbers. Make it easy for customers to review your business, and show them that the experience your customers have is important to you. Let the rest work itself out.