Imagine you just moved to a new city. You’d love for someone to recommend the best restaurant, the most dependable babysitter or the most reliable mechanic – but you don’t know a single soul here.
Where do you turn?
Google, of course, or whatever your preferred search engine may be. You’ll patronize the restaurant, book the babysitter and hire the mechanic to fix your brakes based solely on an online review – and millions of people just like you are doing the same, regardless of whether they arrived in the city last night or have lived there all of their lives.
Your small business needs online reviews. According to a 2017 survey, 85 percent of people trust reviews from Google, Bing, Facebook, Yelp, et al, just as much as they trust recommendations from their own friends and family. Nearly half (49 percent) of consumers won’t use a business unless it has at least a four-star review, and potential customers will read at leastseven reviews on average before deciding to give your small business their patronage.
Scared yet? You should be. But take heart – fantastic online reviews aren’t difficult to come by if you follow these steps.
Be Worthy of Five Stars
If half of the world will only patronize your small business if you have four stars, how many new customers could you get if you had five?
Becoming a five-star business isn’t easy. You need to consistently go above and beyond to earn those shiny emojis. Remember: People don’t generally talk about “OK” service – they rave about the awesome and complain about the awful.
No one is going to sing your praises for showing up on time and getting the job done. But if you show up early, do the job you were hired to do, and give a bit of added value to boot – well, that’s something people will remember.
Provide an Incentive to Review … Period
If you’ve been to literally any fast food restaurant in the last few years, you’ve probably been handed a receipt with a survey on it, and the promise of a free Frosty, a Whopper Jr, or some other incentive – as long as you take the survey and enter the code generated afterwards.
Clearly, these fast food restauranteurs are looking for a five-star review – but even if you rate them a one-star, you still get the goods. The no-strings-attached incentive works in your favor – but it might work in theirs, as well.
For the average person, the reciprocity principle is in full effect. They’re giving you something; you need to give them something, as well. And if that means someone who would ordinarily rate the service three stars gives them four or five instead – well, who are we to judge?
Always give your customers a way to rate your products or service, but be sure to provide an incentive, as well – free shipping on their next order, a discount or even a free burger (if you sell burgers) goes a long way toward turning an “OK” interaction into an amazing one!
Prioritize Negative Reviews
It may seem counterproductive to leave all your glowing recommendations unanswered and address the people who are unhappy with your product or service instead – but if you only have time to do one, the negative reviews need to take precedence.
Here’s why. Your satisfied customers are already…well, satisfied. You have your four and five-star reviews. Your unsatisfied customers – those who rated you a one, two, or three-star – are the ones who require the most attention.
- Example review: I’ve never had to wait this long for service in my life. The restaurant was only half-full, and it still took me 20+ minutes to get a table. Once I was seated, the server forgot about me, and I had to wait another 10 minutes to get my iced tea. When my entrée arrived, it was only lukewarm. Never coming here again!!!
- Example response: I am so sorry to hear about your bad experience at Waffles R Us. As the owner/manager, I take full responsibility. Please contact me directly at [email/phone number] so that I can turn your encounter with us around. In the meantime, there’s a $50 gift card with your name on it sitting at the front desk!
This does several things:
- It tells others reading the online reviews that you’re a proactive owner who is willing to right the (perceived) wrongs.
- It shows that you’re willing to interact with your audience.
- It demonstrates that you have reached out to the complainant, offered a solution, and taken everything offline for privacy reasons.
Will the offended party come back and leave you a glowing review? Maybe, or maybe not. The point is that you did everything in your power to remedy the situation – and the people reading the reviews/responses will understand that!
Online Reviews Are the Lifeblood of a Small Business
Online reviews are crucial, whether you’ve been in business for 30 years or are just starting out. Knowing how to cultivate, incentivize and react to them only makes your job easier!
Are you ready to take your small business to the five-star level? Click or call to connect to a Mischa Communications representative. We have the marketing knowhow you need to become the talk of the town!