In 2021, it’s more important than ever for businesses to pay attention to their online presence.
And there’s no better way to figure out what customers think of you than to read your online reviews.
That’s also how consumers make everyday purchasing decisions. Instead of relying on personal recommendations, they’ll read up on a brand’s public feedback on popular platforms like Facebook, Yelp, and Google My Business.
These posts are more than just anonymous words on a webpage. They hold a lot of power – and if you try to ignore them, they can end up hurting your business.
That means if you want to reach your target audience and protect your brand reputation, you need to effectively manage your online reviews.
Let’s take a closer look at why online reviews are important and how you can grow your business through better online review management.
Why Do Online Reviews Matter?
First of all, why should you care about your online reviews at all?
Because your customers care about them.
Data shows that 90% of consumers say online reviews impact their buying decisions. What’s more, 91% of younger customers report they trust online reviews just as much as the recommendations they receive from friends and family.
It’s also worth noting that when businesses have active profiles on review sites, they’ll show up more prominently in relevant search results.
As such, your online reviews can have a huge impact on your traffic and sales. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study revealed that the average business will see a 5% to 9% increase in revenue for every one-star increase its overall ratings receive on Yelp.
It stands to reason that the better your reviews are, the more likely customers will buy your products or services. And while customers don’t expect (or want) all five-star reviews across the board, having a larger number of reviews can help you build customer trust.
Most consumers will be too afraid to take a total leap of faith. They want some kind of guarantee before they make a purchase. And they’re more likely to trust actual customers – who are sharing their thoughts freely on third-party platforms – to give them peace of mind.
Without enough positive reviews for your business, you may struggle to close the deal. But if you know how to generate online reviews and manage them effectively, you can connect with customers in a significant way and safeguard your brand perception.
How Can You Manage Your Online Business Reviews?
Now that you understand the importance of online reviews, you’ll want to learn how to generate and respond to those reviews. Here are just a few of the tips we’d suggest.
- Strategize Your Review Generation: The first thing you need to understand is that getting more reviews won’t happen by accident. In most cases, customers will be more inclined to share when they’ve had a bad experience. But when they like your business, they may not be as motivated to share their thoughts. That’s why you need to ask for reviews on different platforms and make review generation part of your overall marketing strategy. Remind customers in conversation, in emails, and on social media and supply them with a direct link to the platforms that matter most. Help them see that this is one of the easiest ways they can support your business (without ever spending a dime).
- Respond Promptly and Calmly: When the reviews finally start to pour in, you might not know what to do next. Take the time to read each review thoroughly and make it a point to respond to it within 48 hours. Whether the review is positive or negative, it deserves a response. That doesn’t mean you should rush to reply, especially if you’re prone to taking criticism personally. Remember to stay calm and to really listen to what the customer is saying. Resist the urge to go on the defensive. Even if you think they’re in the wrong, cooler heads will always prevail.
- Showcase Your Customer Service: Instead of reacting to a negative review like it’s a personal attack, think of your review management as an extension of your customer service. This is a major opportunity for you to show off your brand values and illustrate what you’re really all about. The truth is that not every customer service experience will be exemplary (though we should certainly aim for that goal). How you respond to the incident will matter much more than the fact that the incident took place. Make sure your response puts the customer first and do what you can to make things right.
- Express Gratitude and Future Plans: Regardless of whether the review is a rant or a rave, you’ll want to thank the customer for sharing their thoughts and providing you with the chance to continue your improvement. Share your plans for fixing the issue, if applicable, or how you’ll share their glowing remarks with your team. While it’s important not to make empty promises, you can show your commitment to your customers and your employees by including a brief follow-up plan in your response.
In the digital age, online reviews are worth their weight in gold. With these tips in mind, you’ll be in a better position to increase your online presence and respond to any review you receive.