Online review sites have catapulted small businesses to new heights and caused others to fall apart. Whether you like it or not, your business’s online reputation is one of its most vital assets in a technology-driven world, and the success of your business depends on you “the business owner” being a good steward of that reputation. By using review sites correctly, you can generate leads, ensure your business stays accountable to its customers, and consistently improve your brand.
Online review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s List often serve as the first stop for customers seeking a product or service. Suppose a person has back pain and decides to look for a chiropractor. Sure, they could jump on Google and search for local practitioners, visiting the website of each doctor appearing in the results. But savvy consumers know every business puts its best foot forward on its website. That’s why they find more value in hearing from previous and current customers. That’s where review sites come in.
So, how do you capture the hundreds of consumers searching review sites for businesses in your industry? First, your business needs to appear at the top of the search results for popular industry-related keywords. Two, equally important, your company’s reviews should be good ones, painting a picture of a business that delivers high-quality products and services and cares about its customers. Fortunately, these two things feed off each other. The more good reviews you receive, the higher your business ascends in the rankings. Each time you encounter a happy customer, encourage them to post a review, letting them know how it helps your business tremendously.
Having a presence on review sites keeps your business accountable to its customers. That pesky customer you might have told to take a hike if this were still 1998? Do that today and 15 minutes later you might receive a push notification informing you of a scathing one-star review just posted to Yelp for the world to see. Any time you or your employees are in a challenging situation with a customer, the question “What would this person say if they posted a review right now?” should govern your actions. By following this protocol, you may find that not only do your reviews improve, so too do your customer relationships.
Sooner or later, your business is going to receive a negative review. Even Michelin-star restaurants suffer the occasional one-star Yelp review, and timeless works of literature sometimes get panned on Amazon. It is inevitable, and it isn’t the end of the world. In fact, you can turn negative reviews into a positive, using them to improve your brand and show others your commitment to customer service and making things right.
Rather than getting angry over a negative review or summarily dismissing it as the rantings of a malcontent, consider the reviewer’s concerns and whether your business can take any valuable feedback from them. Just as important, engage with the customer publicly, assuring them their business is valuable to you, you’re listening to their concerns, and you want to make it right. Not only might you save that customer relationship, but you could also gain many new customers who see the interaction and are impressed by your commitment to quality service. Review sites can make or break a small business. By learning how to use them to your benefit, you can not only improve your brand but also expose it to new customers.