Small businesses today need to consider how they’re represented on online review sites. Potential customers are increasingly consulting Yelp, Facebook, Google Reviews, Angie’s List, and many other sites when choosing where to spend their money.
Many small business owners get frustrated with these sites but they can actually be a great way to market your business. With a little effort, you can generate positive reviews, limit negative ones, and get discovered by new customers. Here are some tips on how you can manage your business’s online reviews:
Set up your profiles
Having complete profiles on each review site welcomes interaction. Upload your logo and photos of your business, fill out contact details and hours of operation, and link back to your website. Providing all the necessary information will likely increase the exposure your profiles get on each site.
Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews
A lot of business owners feel uncomfortable asking their customers to leave a review. However, it can be done in a tactful way.
For example, if you or your staff provide a customer with an excellent experience and they show appreciation, it’s a great opportunity to ask for a review. There’s a good chance the customer will want to share their story.
You can also generate customer reviews using email marketing. If you know a certain customer has recently visited your business, you can send a follow up email asking for a review. It will be easy for the customer since the email will contain a direct link to the review site.
But don’t buy or over solicit reviews
Some businesses offer a discount, gift card, or other incentive for customers who leave a positive review. This tactic will probably work but you’ll be generating reviews in an unnatural way. You’ll get a lot of five star reviews but they’ll probably have little explanation and come all at the same time. Any savvy web user who sees a mass of positive reviews left on the same day will know something is up.
You certainly should feel comfortable requesting reviews but don’t over do it. One positive review accompanied by the customer’s story will probably have a greater impact than multiple reviews that all lack context.
How to handle bad reviews
Unfortunately, the internet can be a negative place. People often feel more compelled to leave a review when they feel slighted than they do when they have a positive experience. Don’t worry though, bad reviews happen and can still be an opportunity for your business. Here are a few tips for turning angry customers into happy ones – or at least limiting the impact of their bad reviews:
Ask yourself if the review is fair - Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Did they really have a bad experience or are they exaggerating? Have other reviewers had similar issues with your business? If you or your staff made a mistake, you as the business owner should take responsibility. But if the review seems like it was written by someone having a bad day, it might be best to ignore it and let all your other reviews do the talking.
Try to make it right and don’t get defensive - If you think the criticism is fair, you can respond to the bad review in a calm and civil way. Getting defensive, hostile, or simply making excuses isn’t received well, especially in a public forum. Instead you should acknowledge the issue, apologize, and try to make it right.
- Take it offline, if needed - If the reviewer continues to be upset, consider giving them a call. People tend to behave better with there is more human interaction.
Ask the customer to update their review - If everything goes well and you make things right with the customer, ask them to update their review. Hopefully, they’ll be impressed that you took it upon yourself to resolve the issue and will want to share their experience with others.
It might be easy to ignore the things people say about your business online. But potential customers will not ignore reviews about your business. By being active on online review sites, you can highlight what your business is great at and encourage people to become customers.
BookKeeping Express (BKE) specializes in accounting and bookkeeping for restaurants, home service contractors, professional service providers, and health and wellness businesses. Visit our features page to learn how we can serve your business.