The Importance Of Online Customer Reviews

Almost 95% of buyers read online reviews before making a purchase from a local business. I think there is no doubt that online reviews are essential for local businesses. The internet has dramatically changed customer behavior. It brings them very powerful tools that make it easier for them to shop. This also fundamentally affects local businesses.

Google Review

In this chapter you will learn…

  • Why online reviews are crucial for your business.
  • How they can affect your business.
  • How to ask customers for a review.
  • How to collect and manage online reviews on a scale.
  • How to deal with negative comments and reviews.
  • How to monitor a website in order to catch all conversations about your brand.
  • And much more...

Why Are Online Reviews Crucial for Your Business

People Read and Rely on Reviews

Over 90% of people (some studies say up to 95%) read online reviews before they decide to purchase a product or service from a local business. An even more interesting point is that 72% of buyers don't even take action (for example, purchase a product) before they read reviews. 

Trust and Credibility

People get used to online reviews and trust them as much as a personal recommendation from a friend. Online reviews help you build trust between you and potential customers by showing them honest experience from other people.

Boosts Local SEO

Reviews also boost local SEO, which means that people searching for businesses nearby are more likely to find businesses with more information from different resources (aka people). 

Reviews Are Shown in Google Search

Keep in mind that Google now displays reviews from different sites directly in search results. If someone searches for your brand, this can appear.

Reviews in Google Search
Answer both positive and negative reviews, customers will read your comments.

They Help Build Your Online Reputation

Your reputation sells. Years ago, before the internet, reputation was mostly based on word-of-mouth. Nowadays, consumers have significantly more options with information accessible from a single click.

People trust people. Imagine asking your friend how his experience with the new restaurant around the corner was. It will probably affect whether or not you choose to dine there. 

The same principle applies to the internet, but on a much larger scale. Your online presence increases a level of trust. If people can't find information about your business, it seems suspicious. Ignoring comments and reviews will hurt your business as well.

Collecting Feedback and Reviews

How to Ask for a Review

People usually don't write reviews on their own. Especially when they are satisfied with the services. On the other hand, it turns out that 7 out of 10 customers write a review when they are asked.

When you are asking a customer for an online review, be sure to:

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  • Always get permission before sending a review request.
  • Let your customer know that you’re asking for a “favor”.
  • Let your customer know how long this will take.
  • Let your customer know how you benefit from the favor and how important it is for you.
Ask your satisfied customers for an online review. It often happens that a satisfied customer DOESN'T write a review, while a dissatisfied one DOES.

Where to Collect Feedback or Reviews

From an Owner to Customer Dialogue

It is obvious, but I will mention it nonetheless. Customers who visit your branches are an excellent source of feedback and online reviews. It doesn't have to be anything complicated, just ask one or two questions when they are paying and you will get feedback directly from the customer very easily.

Also consider asking a satisfied customer for an online review. 68% of consumers have left a review for a local business after being asked to do so.

Email

Email is the most common form of communication with customers and so it's, of course, a great way to collect feedback and ask for an online review.

SMS

Often underestimated, text messages are another way to ask for feedback. SMS messages have an open rate of up to 98%, which is a very high number, especially compared to email, which has an average of only 20%.

Wifi Login Point

You can also ask for a review on the login screen of local WiFi. Services like Socify allow you to display a custom message to anyone who connects to WiFi in your establishment.

Local Paper Survey

Good old paper. Although we are talking about the online environment, you can also get feedback or review from a person in paper form. You can then publish these reviews on your website.

What to Ask Customers for in a Review

In order to get a relevant review, but at the same time not burden the customers too much with overly-complicated and long questions, it is necessary to ask the right questions. The right question can even give you really valuable feedback.

See examples of great questions below...

  • How did you find us?
  • Did we meet your expectations?
  • How was your experience with the service?
  • What can we do to improve our service?
  • Would you recommend us to your friends?

How to Present Customers Reviews

Online reviews are presented on the given platforms. When someone searches for your business, they usually see others’ reviews. But that's just one way to present reviews.

Website Testimonials

Your business website is the place where you should show off reviews. It's a sneak peak for your audience.

Review on a Website

Social Media Posts

Reviews can fall under the category of UGC – User Generated Content. It means that they are pieces of content connected with your brand, but made by your fans or customers. 

Take your Google, Yelp or TripAdvisor review, and share it across your social media profiles. We cover this topic more in detail in the chapter Content Tips

📖 Try Google's tool for generating beautiful and free stickers, posters, social media posts, and more – directly from your Business Profile on Google.

Google Review Posts

Managing Customer Reviews

Track Reviews

Tracking new ratings and comments is the basis needed in order for you to respond to them. Fortunately, this is not complicated.

Services like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Google My Business let you set up email notifications for each new review. As soon as you receive a new review, you will immediately be notified about it and you can respond.

Build a Process of Managing Reviews

Build a review process. By regularly taking time to answer and review ratings, you'll save quite a bit of time, because it won't be just a random answering that might distract you from your day-to-day work.

Part of the process should, of course, be to identify a specific person who will take care of the reviews in your company. This will help you to ensure consistency.

Respond to ALL Reviews

No matter if the review is positive or negative, you should respond. More than 50% of customers expect businesses to reply to their online reviews within seven days. It is also important to mention that almost 90% of people read responses to reviews, which, in turn, influences their purchasing decisions.

Follow Platform Rules

Be sure that you follow rules for different review platforms. According to many platforms’ rules, responses and comments must not contain personal attacks, profanity, breaches of privacy, advertising, or criticisms of the site itself (regardless of whether you consider it relevant).

In the case that you don't follow the given rules, your response won't be published at all.

Social and Web Listening

If someone mentions you on social media, you will get a notification. But if they don't, you will probably miss a conversation about you. For example, on Twitter, there are over 30% brand mentions without their @handle. This makes it very hard to catch those conversations.

Tools like Mention or Google Alerts solve this problem by searching the exact words you set up on the platforms and whenever someone uses it, you get a notification.

How to Deal with Negative Reviews

It will probably happen.  No matter how flawless your services or products are, sooner or later it is very likely that there will be someone who will give you a bad review.

Reasons for Negative Reviews

There are many reasons why you get negative reviews or bad ratings. 

Unfulfilled Expectations

It's not a problem, when, let's say, your bistro is noisy and has limited places to sit. The problem is when customers don’t expect this because of a misunderstanding due to your product description. Be sure you are clear and honest in the description of your business.

📖 Learn more about defining your customer persona and target market.

A Mistake on Your Side

It happens. People make mistakes, but people also forgive mistakes. In this case, you should answer promptly, say sorry, be honest and provide adequate solutions.

This shows that you care about customers and that even when there is a problem, you are the one who proactively solves the situation. In other words, you have a business where people want to spend their money.

Review From a Competitor

Yes, even this happens. Respond quickly and provide arguments and describe the situation. Potential customers who are reading will get the whole context and recognize it.

Whatever the reason for the negative comment is, it's necessary to respond to it and skillfully work your way out of the situation by handling it professionally. If you don't, it can be perceived as a lack of interest in customers. Remember 7 out of 10 consumers changed their opinion about a brand after the company replied to a review.

Otherwise, you are losing an opportunity to respond to the situation and let the world know your point of view.

To mitigate the effects be sure, you:

  • Respond promptly.
  • Be real and admit your mistakes.
  • Correct inaccuracies.
  • Highlight your strengths.
  • Write like a person, not a corporation.
  • Provide restitution if it's warranted.
  • Ask loyal customers to share their experiences.
  • Apologize sincerely for the customer’s bad experience.
  • Accept complete responsibility, as the owner of the business.
  • Be as transparent and honest as possible about the cause of the mistake.
  • Keep it brief, but sincere.

Under no circumstances should you do the following:

  • Blame the customer.
  • Shift blame onto your staff.
  • Accuse the customer of lying or exaggerating.
  • Refuse to apologize.
  • Refuse to be accountable.
  • Use unprofessional language.
  • Write a long-winded response.
Download the following DOs and DONTs poster, print it and put it in a place where your employees can see it.
Customer Reviews – Do's and Don'ts

Biggest Review Platforms

There are some major platforms on the market you should be aware of. They have significant traffic and fundamentally affect users during their decision phase. 

We listed the most relevant platforms so you can make certain steps to take control of them.

Yelp

Yelp is a universal review platform for many local businesses. From cafés to barbers to fitness studios. It's known for its detailed customer reviews and its global reach is significant.

📖 To respond to reviews you need to claim your business first. 

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is focused mainly on travel hotspots. It provides reviews for restaurants, cafés, hotels and many different attractions in a given destination. It is internationally known and is usually used by travelers.

📖 Claim your business on TripAdvisor here.

Keep in mind that services like Yelp and TripAdvisor are connected with other services and platforms like Apple Maps and provide them with their data – reviews for each local business are displayed on a map.
Review on TripAdvisor

Google (My Business)

Google is by far the most used search engine in the world. Its market share is enormous as well as the number of searches for local businesses.

Google offers the Google My Business platform to claim and register your business, where you can manage all information about your company. Claiming your business at GMB boosts your local SEO, which shows your listing in Maps and in search.

Search Engine Market Share 2020

Facebook

In 2020 Facebook had 1.73 billion active users all around the globe. This makes Facebook one of the most visited websites in the world. You can pragmatically utilize its reach and it allows people to review and rate many different local businesses.

You shouldn't ignore this platform, but rather increase its priority.

Use an app called Mention to monitor Facebook and get notified whenever someone mentions your brand.

Foursquare

Foursquare is a powerful social media review tool. Even though it is more like a social media platform, its main content includes reviews of local businesses. 

Yellowpages

This is Yellowpages, but online. They have one of the biggest business databases in the world covering almost all industries. Yellowpages has lots of monthly searches, but claiming a business here is kinda pricey. It's up to you , if it's worth the investment.

Bing Places

Compared to Google, Bing Places isn't so big. But it still covers a sizable amount of the world’s search market. Listing here can bring you some more customers.

Zomato

Zomato is a platform focused on restaurants, cafés and bars. Keep in mind that in some regions Zomato isn't available.

📖 See our mega database of local listing platforms.

Apps for Listening and Monitoring Websites

Social listening is a technology that shows you what is being said on social media, without you having to go looking for it.

It lets you:

  • Know what’s being said about your brand, as it's happening.
  • Track social media mentions on top social media platforms.
  • Evaluate the tone, influence and reach of those social messages.
  • Analyze relevant data and identify trends.
  • Create aggregated reports in order to understand the big picture and share it with your colleagues and clients.

Mention

Mention

Mention is a tool that allows you to actively listen to what's happening around the web. Whenever someone mentions your brand (or a keyword you set up) it notifies you.

Knowing about your brand's buzz gives you time to respond and have all conversations about your business under control.

This is useful especially when someone is complaining about your product or service. You can immediately take action to save the situation. And increase your value in the eyes of other potential customers.

Automate basic tasks with Zapier.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts

Google’s free to use online app, that monitors a website for you. You can set up some keywords to track and notify, whether or not it appears somewhere. 

You don't even need a Google Account to run this.

Key Takeaways

  • Online reviews are very important for local businesses.
  • They boost local SEO and increase visibility in search engines and maps.
  • Reviews build credibility and trust with potential customers.
  • Ask your customers for honest online reviews.
  • Answer both positive and negative reviews.
  • Claim your business on platforms so that you can be notified and respond.
  • Set up alerts for your brand mentions with Mention or Google Alerts.

Keep in mind that online reviews really influence your business. Be sure you have it under control, because it can easily turn against you. ⚠️

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