How to Use Reviews to Build Your Business

How many times have you judged a book or product on Amazon based on the online customer reviews?

How often do you choose a local restaurant to eat lunch at based on Yelp feedback?

Do you select your instant Netflix movies based on the star rating?

When was the last time you made any big purchase without reading reviews??

Reviews can make or break a business. In general, people want to make informed purchasing decisions and reviews help us discern that we are spending our money wisely. Most people don’t want to go against the grain with their purchases (in other words, buy something that everyone else hated) and reviews act as social proof that other people have paved the way for you (and were satisfied).

getting reviews for your small busnessFor me, I think it’s safe to say that my entire experience on sites like Amazon or Yelp is based on reviews. Every time I buy something on Amazon, I spend at least a few minutes sifting through customer reviews. In fact, even if I really wanted a book or product, if it got enough negative feedback, I’m going to search for something else. No one wants to get suckered into buying something that no one else likes, including myself.

Since reviews can be such a critical part of a business, I decided to attend a local SEO Meetup last week presented by Ross Jones who’s the owner of 2 the Top Website Design and Promotion. The topic on the table was how to get good reviews for your business and what to do with bad ones.

It turned out to be such a great subject, so I wanted to share with you what I took out of it…

1.  Determine where you want your customers to review your business

As you know, there are quite a few websites that customers can review your products or services on. If you’re a locally based business, you might have your business info on Google, Yelp, Citysearch, Yahoo, and the list goes on.

Check out this article on Hubspot to learn about the 12 Places that Businesses Should be Collecting Reviews.

Here’s my thought though…if your customer reviews are spread too thin (meaning you have a few customer reviews here and there on 12 different sites), you’re not going to make as much of an impact. Plus, when you ask for reviews from your customers (Part 2 of this article), what site do you instruct them to go to?

Well, I recommend selecting just a few of these sites to get started with and focus your attention on. First and foremost, Google needs to be one of the sites that you collect reviews on. Most people do their website searching in Google and the more reviews you have on your local listing, the more relevant your business becomes and the higher Google will rank you. This means that you can use reviews as an SEO tool, which is pretty darn neat.

In addition to Google, you can select a handful of other review sites that you think are directly relevant to your specific type of business. Once you select the sites that you want to use (if you haven’t already), create a listing for your business on each site and get everything set up so you can start accepting feedback.

2. Ask for reviews

How do you get good reviews for your business? Well, you have to ask for them. Generally, people are more likely to give a bad review for a business than a good one. This means that you have to hone in on your satisfied customers/clients and directly ask them to leave you a review.

Make note that you should NOT request that people leave you a review on Yelp. Yelp is very strict with their guidelines and they will remove the review if they find out that you asked for it. Therefore, instead of asking for a review on Yelp, you might just want to go the route of informing your customers that you are on Yelp and they can leave a review if they want to.

Asking for reviews and good feedback is a critical part of enhancing the social proof associated with your business. But the key is that you have to ask.

3. Create a review page for your website

If you want to make it super easy for your customers/clients to give you a review, create a page called “Reviews” for your website. Here’s an example of a review page for a salon in Wheaton, IL…

http://mitchellchristophersalon.com/reviews/

This site instructs customers exactly how to leave a review on 3 different review sites (notice how they didn’t put all 12 major review website on there!). How easy is that? Then after the salon created this page, they made small business cards to hand out to satisfied customers with a link to this page.

Your job is to make is super simple for your customers to give you feedback. All of us are beyond busy these days, so the more straight-forward the review process, the more likely you are to receive great feedback.

4. Give customers an outlet for bad reviews

No one likes to receive bad reviews. Especially when it can negatively impact your business and what prospective clients or customers think of your business. Getting a negative review (or multiple ones) can be outright terrifying.

If someone is going to leave you a bad review, it’s obviously preferable if they didn’t leave it on one of your main public review sites. This is why it’s important to give your customers a place to leave a bad review or express a problem or concern. No matter what, they are going to say whatever they’re going to say anyway, so why not give them an outlet to say it?

A great way to do this is to create a form on your website where these people can leave negative feedback. You might even set up a link or online form on your business review page (that I talked about in Part 3). The form could say something like: “Not satisfied with your service? Let us know! We want to make it right.”

When you give people a chance to express their concern directly to you, you decrease the risk that they will blast it out on all the public review sites and you have the ability to make it right for that customer, which might completely shift their negative opinion of your business.

5. How to deal with bad reviews

The best way to deal with bad review is to address them promptly. Don’t leave the reviews there to fester or blow out of proportion. If someone didn’t have a positive experience with you, you want to address it head on.

Of course, some people are NEVER going to be happy and if they want to go on a crazy pissing and moaning rant, you might just have to let them. But for everyone else, treat the situation with the upmost professionalism.

First step, take a deep breath. Never respond to a negative review in the heat of the moment. Next, envision all your happy customers sitting in the room with you when you address the issue. This will help you determine the best way to do what’s right for everyone.

In the end, receiving negative reviews is just a standard part of being in business and it takes practice to accept them with grace.

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