At one time, if a customer wanted a business recommendation, the best resource was a trusted friend or family member. With the growth of online and mobile review platforms, those referrals can come from complete strangers, with customers having access to numerous reviews on the same product or service.

For businesses, this has created an environment where reviews are an essential part of an online presence. In addition to the SEO benefits, online reviews help build customer confidence in a company. In fact, according to a survey from BrightLocal, 92 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, up from 88 percent in 2014. With such reliance on reviews, it’s important to create an environment where customers feel comfortable leaving feedback. Here are a few tips to help you get online reviews for your business.

Provide the Platform

The first step is to ensure you have a presence on all major review sites.  This comprehensive list is a great start, but make sure you also cover any local or specialized sites that collect business feedback. One way to ensure you haven’t missed a crucial site is to search for reviews on some of the more popular businesses near you. Also conduct a search on products or services similar to yours with the word “review” after it and make sure when customers look up those reviews locally, they find your site.

Ask

Some of your most loyal customers will leave a review based on a simple request from you. During the checkout process, ask customers to review you on a specific site. If you have a core group of loyal customers, directly request that they leave you a positive review. One way to boost your presence is to offer customers an incentive to recommending you online, such as entry into a contest with a lucrative prize. The only negative to this is that you may find a few negative reviews mixed in with the positive.

Simplify the Process

Often you’ll find that simply asking your customers to leave a review doesn’t get results. Even if they plan to post something, life gets in the way. One way to overcome that is to make it easier for them to follow through. In addition to in-store signage, print a reminder on every receipt. For online purchases, include a link on your “thank you” page or any post-purchase email you send. The customer experience will be fresh on these customers’ minds and they’ll be more likely to follow through than if they waited.

Listen to Customers

While some customer feedback can be disregarded as opinion, all too often brands find valuable information in their reviews. Pay close attention to the feedback you get, both on third-party review sites and through your own website and emails. Watch for trends across multiple reviews and consider them as you make decisions about your business. Customers tend to provide feedback when they feel very strongly about an experience. This feedback, whether positive or negative, can lead to skewed results. However, taking those extreme opinions into consideration can help you identify and address issues that could be costing you customers. Personally responding to any negative reviews can be a great way to turn the experience into a positive. Most customers will appreciate the fact that you reached out to help. At the very least, you’ll show your reviewers that you take customer service seriously.

Online reviews are key to winning new customers. By providing stellar customer service and encouraging existing customers to review your business, you can create a positive online reputation. Over time, you’ll be able to use those reviews to identify things within your own organization that you need to change to keep customers coming back.

 

Strategic Funding provides needed operating funds to small businesses. Strategic Funding has helped business in hundreds of industries.  Industries served include: restaurants, personal services, construction, medical, manufacturing, agriculture, retail stores, automotive, and food stores.