Branding

Online customer reviews are essential for your business

By Mark Ainsworth

Part Two

In part one we talked about the importance of online reviews for SEO purposes, as well as for building trust and getting you into an authentic conversation with your customers. In this part we’ll think about how to put this into practice.

In order to let your reviews work in your favour, you first need to get your customers to leave them – preferably in places which will help to boost your Google rankings.

How to get online reviews

Asking for reviews

The most obvious course of action is often the most effective, and the best way to get your customers to leave reviews is simply to ask for them. A way in which you can boost your relationship with your customers, as well as get reviews, is to send them a ‘thank you for your purchase’ email at the end of a transaction, which also asks them to leave a review. If you are selling a product, a note inside the package which asks for reviews can also be effective.

Make it easy for customers to make a review

Think about linking to some of your review profiles on your website, so that people browsing your site can easily find one of your preferred review sites to leave their feedback. You can also ask for stickers for your physical store or business place which lets visitors know where you can be reviewed. Yelp offers ‘Find Us On Yelp’ stickers and TripAdvisor sends out ‘Recommended on TripAdvisor’ stickers on request, for example.

Get customer service staff to request reviews

This goes both for face to face contact and over the phone. Staff should be trained to end every conversation or transaction by asking that customers leave a review, whether the interaction has been positive or negative. Remember that even negative reviews help you to enter into a conversation that will boost your SEO and engender customer trust.

Once you have a strategy set up to get reviews, then it is time to think about how to manage your online reputation, and using these reviews to your benefit.

Make sure that you have Google Alerts set up so that all business reviews, good or bad, can be dealt with quickly. Consumers don’t just want to feel heard, they want to feel like their opinions are important to you and the swiftness with which you respond to negative reviews is a measure of this.

Claim your brand

Whilst you will have access and right of reply to reviews on your social media and website, there are other reviews sites which are not owned by you, but on which you should still try to be active. There are many platforms which offer ‘owner responses’, allowing you to take ownership of the conversation and respond to your customers.

To do this you need to find out which review sites rank highly for your brand by searching your brand name and ‘reviews’ in Google. You can then make a list of the sites that you feel it is important to be active on, and claim your business profile on each so that you can officially respond to comments.

Be complaint-friendly

Any successful business will have had to deal with complaints at some point or another. You can’t naively assume that if you do everything right you won’t have to deal with them, so it is critical that you put together an action plan for how to effectively deal with complaints, and turn them into a positive for you and your business.

  • Have a complaint form clearly signposted on your website, that is mobile-optimised so that customers can find and use it wherever they are.
  • Make your complaints procedure easy to find and follow. A complaint hotline number should be listed on your site alongside your contact information, as well as on social media and even in your physical store. It should be made clear that you welcome comments and complaints to help you to improve.
  • Train staff to pre-empt complaints by asking how the found the service at the end of a transaction, and make sure they know how to help as well as de-escalate the situation if there is a problem.
  • Keep an eye out for mentions of your brand on social media so that you can join the conversation and provide solutions if there are problems and complaints.

Avoid complaints if possible

Focus on staff training

So much can be done with staff training to ensure that issues don’t crop up in the first place, and so that, if they do, staff are able to manage the issue. Make sure that there is a clearly appointed hierarchy so that every single staff member knows who their superior is, and who they need to contact in the event of a problem or complaint. Staff should be trained to listen to complaints and questions and not respond if they don’t have the right answer. Your team should be constantly supported by other team members, and clearly signposted customer service procedures, to deliver the level of customer service you expect from your brand.

Deal with issues with products or services graciously

Even if you do everything right with regards to customer service, occasionally there will still be problems that could lead to complaints. Remember that your customers are the reason that your business is thriving and don’t take it personally if you get a bad review or unpleasant comment.

Try not to react strongly to either good or bad reviews, as you want to keep a professional veneer on your side of the conversation. Nothing puts customers off more than a business owner trying to shout down the opinions of their customers, or being abjectly favourable to positive reviews whilst ignoring the negative.

Instead, when there is a bad review, look at the situation and work out what you can do to resolve the issue with that customer specifically, in order to leave them with a better impression of your business.

In some cases, customers will go back and leave a positive review after the problem has been resolved, purely because the customer service was so good.

Respond to all/most reviews

You may well not have time to respond to every review you see, but you should make the effort to respond to most of the reviews and comments that come up online. This shows your customers that you read the reviews and value their opinions. Even if you just send a response thanking each customer for their feedback this is appreciated.

It is useful if you are able to customise your responses as much as possible, though. This not only makes customers feel that they are in direct conversation with you, but it also allows you to slip in a few keywords to help boost your SEO at the same time.

Conclusion

Online reviews are a barometer showing how much potential customers can trust your company and brand. The more they trust you the more likely they are to buy from you.

They are easy to set up and Google is very likely to put them on the front page when your website comes up in search terms. It is a very cheap and effective type of advertising that can very significantly boost click throughs and enquires to your website.

Here at Maxweb we love getting our clients great rankings and can help you with all your website marketing requirements. Why not give us a call on 0151 652 4777 or email info@maxwebsolutions.co.uk to find out more.

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