The reputation of your business is crucial to success. And, whether you like it or not, online customer reviews, are here to stay. In fact, it is estimated that over 80 percent of customers look online for reviews for local businesses before making a decision.
Unfortunately, it often seems like people take the time to write about negative experiences more often than positive ones. But all reviews — positive or negative — provide valuable information to help you run your business and can actually improve your reputation. Customers care as much or more about how a business responds to a review than the review itself.
So, what can you do to make customer reviews work for you?
- Monitor all major customer review platforms.
You can do this by claiming your profile on sites such as BBB, Google, Yelp, etc. Most let you know if you got a review so that you can respond. If you do not have the time to do this yourself, there are lots of products and businesses that can help you manage this important part of your business.
- Respond in a timely manner (ASAP!) to all reviews, both positive and negative.
If positive, thank the customer and let them know how much you appreciate them taking the time to write a review and that your team values customer service as a priority.
If negative, always be respectful and professional. Acknowledge their concern; provide any useful explanation, if available; apologize (if appropriate); and provide your contact information so that you may either understand the situation better or work toward a resolution. Potential customers find this as a positive signal that you care about customer service.
- Encourage positive reviews by following up with your customers.
Ask customers to leave a review and make it easy for them with the fewest steps possible. For instance, you can provide the link to your BBB.org business profile and/or use one of the many mobile applications to enable customers to leave a review by responding to a simple text. Just remember, make it as easy as possible.
Also, remember that if you have a customer that leaves an abusive, vulgar, or threatening review, you can have it removed.
Encourage customers to leave reviews on BBB.org because consumers trust them, as they are validated to ensure they are from an actual customer of the business, the business always has the opportunity to respond before the review is posted, and BBB does not allow anonymous or paid reviews.
Marybeth Stevens is CEO of the Better Business Bureau of El Paso. You can reach her at [email protected]