Leveraging Local Reviews and Ratings

Provide Review-Worthy Service

It’s fairly straightforward but to get the good reviews you want, you’ll need to make sure you’re providing your customers with review-worthy service. Good performance isn’t remarkable, but exceptional service and bad service are worth writing reviews about. The majority of customer complaints in online reviews are reactions to employee behavior and poor customer service.

As the owner of your business, you need to ensure that you are setting company policies and employee training programs that will result in positive reviews from customers who may have experienced some dissatisfaction. By treating your customers well, you lay the groundwork for positive reviews.

Make sure your employees understand how to react to and field customer complaints. If problems need to be escalated, your employees will need a well-defined hierarchy to send the customer to the right person.

In addition to wanting their problems solved quickly, customers want to feel like their complaints are being heard by someone. Your employees need to know how to treat these customers so that they don’t feel ignored. You can turn what would otherwise become a negative online review into a positive reaction by addressing customer complaints the right way.

Claim Your Review Profiles On Every Relevant Platform

You will need to claim review profiles on relevant sites to get reviews and partake in the conversations revolving around your brand. Claim your Google My Business listing, create a Facebook business page, and set up a Yelp profile if it is relevant to your business.

You can search for existing reviews of your brand online and see if there are any other sites where customers are having conversations about your business and set up business profiles there as well.

You may also want to check where your local competitors are getting reviews by searching for them. By setting up a business profile in places where your competitors are having conversations with customers, you may be able to start winning them over.

What Do You Get Out of Claiming and Creating Listings?

Most importantly you get an opportunity to respond to customer feedback. If you respond with gratitude to a positive review then you may strengthen an existing customer relationship and you will have demonstrated to prospective customers that you care about and value your customers.

You get the chance to respond to negative reviews which, if done correctly, may result in winning back a customer from dissatisfaction.

Monitor Each Business Profile

Once you have set up or claimed your business profiles, you need to closely watch them for reviews. You need to be proactively engaged with your customers. By monitoring your profiles, you can quickly respond to both praise and complaints.

People want to feel like they’re being heard. The quicker you thank them for their positive review or address their complaint, the more positive sentiment you will build with existing customers, prospective customers, and sometimes customers with complaints.

You can designate a person or team to monitor your business profiles so that they can quickly respond to any customer feedback.

Encourage Customer Reviews

Now that you have your business profiles set up, you can start encouraging customers to leave reviews of your business. You will want to make the review process as easy for them as possible and will need to understand each review platform’s review policy.

There are also some very important dos and don’ts when it comes to generating reviews. You should never pay a customer for a review nor should you post a review on any of your business profiles on the customer’s behalf. Customers should be encouraged to post reviews but those reviews should be genuine.

Your reviews are an important factor in your business’ search rankings and they need to be authentic for your prospective customers to trust you enough to purchase your product from you. Faked or paid reviews are viewed with suspicion by reviewing platforms and may impact both customer trust and your appearance in searches.

Make it Easy for Customers to Leave Reviews

Don’t just ask your customers to leave you a review, make it easy for them to leave a review by helping them find the right platform for them to post their feedback.

Ask them personally for a review when they complete a transaction with you and ask your customers for their email addresses. Then send them an invitation to leave a review along with a link to your business profiles.

There are other ways to ask customers for reviews such as placing links to your review pages on your website or putting instructions for where and how to leave a review on your receipts.

Understand Each Review Platform’s Rules

The way you encourage reviews will differ across review platforms. Each one of them has different rules and standards which are important to be aware of so that your business is not penalized for doing something outside of the guidelines.

Some sites, like Yelp, do not want business to request their customers to leave reviews and have publicly shamed businesses with warning banners on the listings for violating certain guidelines in the past. Others, like Google or Facebook, don’t mind businesses asking customers for reviews as long as the customer is not compensated in money or gifts.

Yelp Fake Review Warning

For more information here are the links to review guidelines for Google, Facebook and Yelp:

Know How to React to Negative Reviews

You are going to get bad reviews. It will happen and the only thing you can do is be prepared for how you will handle them.

The way you react to a negative review may be the determining factor in either winning a customer back and looking good to other prospective customers or making the already negative review look even worse. Whether it’s your business at fault or the upset consumer to blame, other people will read the review and form their opinions of your company based upon it.

If you carefully prepare and strategize for it, your reaction to a negative review may actually cause the reviewer to change the rating they gave you to something more positive. You may be able to change their feelings towards you with a response that makes them feel like their issue has been heard and solved.

Things You Should Do

A well-crafted response begins with a sincere apology for the customer’s bad experience and by showing them empathy for the distress or disappointment they may be feeling. You need to accept complete responsibility as the owner of the business.

Offer the customer something which might make amends with them after asking them if they would give you the chance to make it up to them. Be honest and transparent about the cause of the mistake and inform the customer of any steps you are taking to make sure it doesn’t happen to another customer again.

Encourage the customer to provide you with more complaints and feedback in person to demonstrate your commitment to fix their issue and provide them with a good experience.

Finally, keep your response short and sincere. You shouldn’t write long explanation of your company’s policies or mistakes. Your response should not read like an excuse.

Things You Shouldn’t Do

First of all, if the review alleges illegal actions, you should seek legal counsel instead of responding to the review. In all other cases, the following actions should not be taken.

Do not blame the customer for their bad experience even if you feel that the experience was their fault. In doing so, you risk damaging your reputation as a business for other customers. You will also risk your reputation if you accuse the customer of lying or exaggerating.

GMB Example of a Bad Review

Don’t refuse to apologize for the experience or to be accountable for your employee’s actions. In the same vein, do not shift the blame onto your employees.

Be professional in your response. Using unprofessional language or writing a long-winded, rambling response will make you look angry, rude, and full of excuses. You want to change the customer’s opinion of you for the positive and acting unprofessionally will only worsen your relationship with them.

Respond to Complaints Before They Become Reviews

Sometimes you can respond to customer’s complaints before they write a review for your company. You have the power to set policies and create outlets to stop some bad reviews before they are ever written.

This begins with training your employees on how to deal with customer complaints and how to escalate issues if needed. You can hang signage in your store welcoming customers to let your employees know if anything isn’t right. Your employees can also begin tactfully asking the customers at the time of service if they are satisfied with their treatment. Any resulting complaints can be addressed before the customer leaves the store.

You can create a mobile-friendly complaint form for your website and monitor that closely so that you can address customer complaints. You could also set up a hotline for text messages and phone calls to resolve customer issues.

As long as you make customers aware of these outlets and you are keeping close track of the complaints, you can proactively respond to issues before the customer decides to write a review.

You should also keep in mind that listening to customer complaints can very easily be an asset to your business. You may discover through your customer’s issues that there is a major problem with your business that needs to be resolved. You may also discover better, more efficient, or more customer-friendly processes and policies.

Are Google Reviews a Ranking Factor?

Yes. Google reviews share a positive correlation with improved rankings in the local map pack. In addition to increasing your organic ranking, reviews can increase your click-through-rate by outshining your local competitors. Having more reviews and a higher rating is a sure way to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack.

Can You Remove or Delete Google Reviews?

You cannot remove reviews from your Google My Business listing strictly for being negative. Google owns and controls the listing on their site and it is up to them to decide if a review should be removed. You can flag reviews and dispute them with Google if they are fake but there isn’t a guarantee that Google will remove them just because you’ve opened a dispute.

Have Reviews but No Stars Yet?

Getting a star rating on your business listing in search results can help distinguish your business from the ones without them. It can help establish some consumer trust when they see that other people have rated your business. Star ratings begin to appear after your business has had 5 or more reviews. Note that these are different than the star ratings you’ll sometimes see underneath a listing in the organic results.

Local Business Review Stars

Conclusion

Getting reviews is important for your business because they help you build an online reputation. Positive reviews lend legitimacy to your business, reinforce a positive image for your existing customers, and can help potential customers decide to do business with you.

The way you interact with negative reviews is just as important as getting reviews in the first place. Dealing with negativity is hard, but complaints need to be treated as an opportunity for your business.

When you respond to a negative review, you have the chance to win back a customer, build goodwill among existing and potential customers, and you may even learn a new way to improve your business.

If you’re providing service to customers that’s remarkable, creating and monitoring business profiles, encouraging reviews the right way, and properly responding to negativity then you’re well on your way to reaping the rewards of online reviews.

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Article by:

Founder of Ardent Growth. Advocate for small business owners. Passionate about education. Iraq war veteran. Graduated with honors from MSU’s Computer Science and Philosophy programs.

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