Competition for local business is no longer limited to the guy down the street who sells the same products and services you sell. Now your competitors are large online retailers and service companies who can drop ship the same products you sell often at a fraction of the cost. How’s a local company supposed to compete with that?
We like to say the difference between our business and someone else’s is customer service, but that’ll really only get you so far. In fact, everyone says they have the best customer service but only a few can prove it. Be one of the few. It starts by revamping building relationships with your customers and providing the real service they expect. That’s a topic for another blog. If you already host a plethora of happy customer’s it’s time to let them tell their story.
How do you ask for reviews?
Your customers may enjoy your product or business but not think about leaving you a review. They’re as busy as you are, which means a reminder goes a long way to actually getting those reviews. You can be as nonchalant as adding a sign at your register or on your website reminding customers to leave a review if they enjoyed their visit. You can also send emails to patients or customers a day or two after their visit to ask them to rate their visit on Google, Facebook, Yelp or Houzz, depending on what’s most appropriate.
Do not reward your followers for leaving a review as that is prohibited by most sites. For instance, running a promotion offering a free cookie when a customer shows a positive review on Google will get your page penalized if Google finds out.
Where do you want the most reviews?
Where your customers leave reviews depends on your business and your goals. Here’s a breakdown of who wants reviews where:
Google — every business benefits from Google reviews. It takes an average of 2-5 reviews for those to show up on your Google map listing when someone searches for your company. If you do not have any Google reviews, make a goal to receive at least five reviews over the next month and focus on sending your customers to your Google+ page to leave a review.
Facebook — Non profits and B2C companies benefit the most from Facebook reviews although a B2B company with an active page and large follower account would benefit as well. It’s easy to send customers to your Facebook to leave a review and you can even request they leave a review via Facebook Messenger to make the ask and response easier.
Yelp — Shopping, restaurants, and home services receive the most reviews on Yelp. As of the end of 2018, Yelp had 4.6 million claimed business listings and a total of 11 million reviews. That averages out to 37 reviews per listing. If your business falls into one of those most reviewed categories start increasing your reviews with a goal of reaching 37 reviews by a set deadline.
Houzz — For anyone involved in home building or renovation, Houzz is a must have site. In addition to building out your profile and adding images of your work, it’s important to build reviews of your work. Houzz does not allow anonymous reviews so your customers will have to sign up for an account to leave you a review, but since many of your customers are already bringing in their Houzz lookbooks for your design sessions that won’t be an issue. Take advantage of the Houzz option to request reviews from your customers by sending out a request a few days after every project completion.
How do I respond to reviews?
First of all, make you sure you respond to reviews. It continues to build the relationship you’ve worked so hard to cultivate with your clients. Medical practices and other businesses with tight privacy restrictions may need to limit their response to something generic such as “Thank you for your kind words!” or “We appreciate your review!”. Other businesses can be more specific with their response by mentioning something specific you enjoyed about working on their project or if you’re a retailer or restaurant asking what they purchased or who their server was so you can pass along the compliment.
To respond to reviews you’ll have to keep a check on every site where you ask for those reviews. It only takes a few minutes every week but those are often the few minutes many small businesses don’t have to spare.
What about negative reviews?
Not everyone will love you. It’s a hard, bitter pill to swallow. And not some people will never be satisfied, but you can’t use that response on reviews even as much as you’d like to. Always move negative review conversations offline as quickly as possible. Ask them to call your company and request to speak to a specific person who knows the situation and is prepared to defuse it. Send a note of apology either through email or better yet snail mail with a coupon to encourage them to give you another try (and make sure their next experience is top notch). Be kind and courteous without exposing too much of what happened in their situation. It’s their story, being defensive will not win you any points.
If a negative review is a blatant falsehood contact the site where the review was found and ask that it be removed. A competitor of one of our clients harassed our client’s customers and then left a scathing review online. The competitor’s social media page obviously displayed their conflict of interest and the review was removed. You may also ask that the review be removed if it includes offensive language or disparaging comments about a person or people group.
When you’ve built your reviews into a strong rating system one or two negative reviews may mean you have a 4.5 rating instead of a 5, but it may also mean your company is more likable and real to your customers. So don’t sweat one or two bad reviews. If you’re struggling with a 1 or 2-star average rating, it’s time to make some changes in your business as a whole.
Reading others experiences with a brand or product is so easy in the digital age. If you don’t have a strategy for capturing positive customers reviews as part of your digital marketing plan, it’s time to add that to your strategy.
No digital marketing strategy? We can help with that.