7 Reasons Why Reviews Matter for Small Business
1. People trust Reviews
According to a Neilsen study in 2009, 90% of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know. 70% of consumers online trust recommendations from people that they don’t know. According to the study a minimum of 6 reviews are required for the consumer to have trust.
24% of of Adults that say they have posted comments or reviews online about the product or services they buy.
2. Reviews effect Search Rankings
Search engines use reviews as a signal of trust and popularity. Reviews have a low to moderate impact on your business rankings in the search results. Reviews are Local Ranking Factor # 6 in David Mihms Local Ranking Factors 2011 Report.
3. Better Click Through Rates
Businesses 5 or more reviews stand out in the search results with the stars highlighted in yellow. The business with the most reviews will almost always be clicked on even if it is further down the page in the search results. Think about it, aren’t you going to at least check out (or click through to the website) the business with the most reviews. How about the business with twice as many reviews as anyone else on the page.
4. Better Conversion Rates
Getting the visitor to your Google Places page or website is only half the battle. Website traffic without sales is pointless and a waste of resources if they don’t dial your number or visit the business. People don’t care what you say about your business. They care what others say about your business. More reviews will usually turn into more visitors converting to leads and customers.
5. Reviews aren’t Going Away
Reviews will go away when the internet goes away – never. Implementing a process to collect reviews and deal with negative reviews is a reality for ALL businesses. What are you waiting for….?
6. Businesses with the Most Reviews are Winning
Dentist, Doctors, Lawyers, Plumbers, HVAC contractors, Rehab Centers, Hotels, Restaurants, Yoga Centers etc. all win when they have more reviews than their competitors.
7. A Good Review Strategy will make your Business Better
Businesses that implement a solid review strategy and commit to it will become a better business. You will get better feedback. You will find out what your doing great and what needs improvement. You will connect with your customers and community on a deeper more meaningful level.
Best Practices – Creating an Effective Review Strategy
There are literally hundreds places where a customer could leave a review. I recommend that you focus on the following sites. When you identify additional review site(s) where many of your customers visit or spend their time you will want to add them to your list. You can find out where your customers go by asking them. I also recommend spending some time visiting these sites and your industry or niche review sites and identifying where you already have reviews.
Most Popular Review Sites – Start Here
- Google Places
- Bing Local
- Yahoo Local
- Insider Pages
- Super Pages
- Yellow Pages
- Merchant Circle
- Better Business Bureau
Popular Industry, Market, or Niche Review Sites
Popular Medical & Dental Review Sites
- Health Grades
Popular Restaurant Review Sites
- Urban Spoon
Popular Hotel & Travel Review Sites
- Trip Advisor
Popular Contractor Review Sites
- Judy’s Book
- Angie’s List
For a more comprehensive list visit my Top 100 Citations list
Create a Reviews Policy & Procedures
Create policies and procedures to:
- Collect Reviews
- Monitor Reviews
- Respond to Reviews – Both Positive & Negative
You will need to meet with your staff and come up with a strategy. I recommend implementing a Review Policy & Procedures. Sharing a post like this or something similar with your staff could be a great starting point for implementing a review strategy.
When it comes to collecting reviews you will find that “Slow & Steady Wins the Race”. Collecting reviews is the first policy that needs implementation. Don’t assume that customers are going to leave a review. Even SMB’s that are excellent in their area or niche will have to ask for reviews in the same way you have to ask for a sale. Here are some points during the customer experience where I recommend asking for a review:
- Point of Sale. Ask for their email if you don’t already have it. Tell the customer that you appreciate their business and that you are always looking for feedback and areas to improve. Tell the customer that you are going to send them an email with links to your profile on popular review sites. This is also a great time to find out if they read reviews, write reviews, and which review sites they visit. ASK THEM TO LEAVE A GOOGLE REVIEW IF THEY ARE GMAIL CUSTOMERS!
- Daily Review Request – Email today’s Customers. Mentioning the email at the point of sale makes it easy to send an email to the clients that visited the business at the end of the day. The visit is fresh on their mind – don’t procrastinate.
- Point of Sale. Have a post card or flyer at the front desk with links to to your profile on popular review sites. This can act as a reminder. Do this along with asking for an email.
- Company Newsletter. I would recommend creating a template in your company newsletter with links to your profile on popular review sites. I recommend sending a review request monthly.
- When Dealing with a Complaint. Yep, I said it. Complaints are a chance to endear a customer to your company. Its going to happen. You’re going to screw up. Your staff isn’t perfect and neither is your business. Take the high road, make it right, and once you do – ask the customer to leave a review about your commitment to fixing the issue. In my experience I have found that consumers understand this point. And they love businesses that own their mistakes. This is a crucial factor to building brand loyalty.
- Customer Survey. Surveys are another great way to connect with your customers, get feedback, and find out better ways to run your business. You can create surveys easily with Survey Monkey. 100 responses are free. 1000 is only $17 per month. It is simple and easy to ask for a review after in the email. You could also consider adding survey functionality to your website.
Reviews are like traditional testimonials. If they all occurred last year or the year before both potential clients and the search engines are going to wonder what’s up. Implementing policies & procedures with your staff will assure a steady stream of reviews.
Putting your eggs in one basket is never a good strategy. For example Google has been known to periodically loose reviews from one source or another. It is also difficult to predict next year’s review site winner and the looser. Being in a range of places protects against both eventualities.
Monitoring reviews is the second policy that you need to implement. This is easier than it sounds. There is no need to scourer the web. Focus on the top 5 – 10 review sites that your customers visit with an extra focus on your Google Places page. In my experience these top sites should account for 90% of the review activity about your business.
Pick a staff member and a time for the audit. Once a week is amazing. Once a month may be sufficient. Bookmark the links to those 10 sites to quickly visit each. There is software to simplify this process that I will cover later in this post but I have found that software or Google Alerts often miss some, if not half of the actual activity. I can monitor 10 sites in less than 10 – 15 mins. Its simple and a great way to have your ear to the ground about the customer sentiment on your business.
Responding to both Positive & Negative Reviews
Responding to reviews is the third policy that needs implementation. Don’t wait until you have a bad review. Don’t respond to only negative reviews. If someone took the time to write about you, find the time to write back.
Pick a staff member you trust with your reputation if you don’t choose to respond yourself. You should respond when you are doing the review audit. Again, once a week is amazing, once a month may be sufficient. You will find that weekly responses will really pay off when that negative review happens, allowing you to act quickly.
Tips for Dealing with Positive Reviews
- Showing appreciation publicly can go a long way. A potential customer will see how you value your clients.
- The reviewer will be more likely to refer a friend or family member to your business and leave more reviews in the future.
Tips for Dealing with Negative Reviews
- Take Responsibility – Own the issue.
- Offer to fix the issue or make it right.
- Describe how future customers will not have this issue.
- Do this even with someone that you believe is disgruntled. If they do not respond then you can add another response later stating that you believe it was fraudulent.
- Take your time. A negative review most likely made you angry. Resist the temptation to reply quickly because, unless you have superhuman emotional control, the reply is likely to sound angry.
- Don’t be defensive. One suggestion we often give to our clients is to send a draft of your response to someone that doesn’t work at your company. Ask them to delete anything that sounds defensive. At least have another staff member review the response.
- Keep it brief.
- Take a deep breath. RELAX. I know it hurts and doesn’t feel good. But hey, even the best business will have an unhappy customer. And sooner or later they will leave a bad review.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
A bad review will be easy to handle if your business has 50 positive reviews. If you are collecting new reviews every week you will quickly bury the bad review with positive reviews. Usually 5 reviews will push it outside of most readers view. When you get a bad review, respond to it, then ask for some of your loyal customers that know you better to place their opinion next to it.
Make the Review Process Simple & Transparent
Whatever system you implement for the customer, it should be so dead simple that they just don’t have to struggle. The least number of clicks, the straightest path, the least to remember should all be ideals of whatever system you put in place.
You want to provide your customers/clients with a range of sites so as to be compatible their online behaviors. It is hard to know if they prefer leaving reviews at one place or another. The more comfort they have with your suggestions the more likely they are to leave the review. You need to be where your customers are. Asking you customers what they prefer is a good idea when you are setting up your program.
Whatever review process you choose, it should be open, transparent and beyond reproach. An unhappy customer is bad enough but one that thinks you are scamming the review world will be relentless.
Software to Collect Reviews
Mail Chimp helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track your results. Mail Chimp is great email newsletter solution if your business doesn’t already have one in place. It is free for the first 2,000 customers which is more than enough for most small businesses.
Demandforce enables you to take control of your online reputation by automating review collection, helping you manage and respond to reviews, and then posting those reviews on third party web services, including search engines, website and indexes, where potential customers will find you.
The downside DemandForce costs between $300 – $400 per month. Another downside is that it places all the reviews in its website so they aren’t visible to the customer on most search results. However, Linda Buquet wrote a great post about using DemandForce to collect Google reviews.
Smile Reminder is ideal for many different types of dental and medical professionals can benefit from using Smile Reminder’s patient messaging software suite to collect customer reviews. Like DemandForce, Smile Reminder is a paid service around $300 per month.
Software to Monitor Reviews
Marchex Reputation Management
Marchex Reputation Management easily tracks and analyzes online listings, comments, critiques and glowing reviews about your business — all in one place. Best of all, it’s basic service is free.
More than 8,000 sources are tracked-from Twitter to Citysearch to local blogs and forums-to compile every review, mention and listing of your business. You account is notified when your business is mentioned or cited on the web. You can also compare your mentions/citations to your competitors.
The downside to Marchex is that it does not catch every mention or review. The manual process that I described above is a more thorough approach in my opinion.
Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries. Or in this case – your business name or website. Enter a search query you wish to monitor. You will see a preview of the type of results you’ll receive. You will recieve an email alert from Google when the business is mentioned.
Once again the downside is that the Google Alerts will not catch many mentions and does not track review mentions. It is still a good tool to use to keep your ear to the ground about what may be said about your business.
Tough Love about Reviews
The best review strategy is to be great! There is no substitute for excellence and pride in your business and its product/service. Reviews will come easier for those businesses worth reviewing. Reviews will also come easily from angry customers that visit businesses that don’t follow the Golden Rule. Approaching reviews with the right attitude can improve your business, its offering, and its bottom line.
Consumers have Common Sense
Consumers are smart. They are savvy. They are reasonable. They know that some people are grumpy. They know that some people always complain. They have jobs and businesses as well. They work for companies and people that make mistakes also. They love people and business that own their mistakes and make it right. They understand that you, your employees, and your business isn’t perfect.
Tags: Best Practices for Customer Reviews, business reviews, business reviews on google, customer reviews, How to Get Google Review, Online Brand Strategy