84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their own friends and family’s reviews. A modern form of word-of-mouth marketing, online reviews can make or break your business. Your prospective customers look at ratings, the total number of reviews, and read reviews of exactly what to expect from your product or service.
Besides the obvious fact that people can be persuaded or dissuaded from your business from online reviews, your reviews can also help your visibility. Popular review websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Angie’s List have been around for years, are constantly being updated, and have extensive information. It’s no surprise that these large review-based websites are favored by search engines. Even if your company’s website doesn’t rank well on search engines, you’re likely to be featured in a review-based website.
For example, if you’re a BBQ restaurant with less-than-stellar SEO, you may not rank high up on the first page of a search engine when searched for “BBQ in Richmond VA.” But the top hits are likely to be Yelp and TripAdvisor, with reviews about your BBQ restaurant.
How can you manage your online reviews?
First of all, set up accounts with all applicable review-based websites and fully set up your business’s profile.
Next, encourage as many customers as you can to post genuine reviews. Do not post fake reviews for your business.
And most importantly, monitor and respond to all reviews. If a customer had a stellar experience, tell them you’re glad they had a great experience and encourage them to visit again. If a customer has had a disappointing experience, diagnose the problem where service has failed, make the customer feel heard, empathized with, and respected. Offer a way to reconcile the situation, and give your contact information to move the conversation offline.
A bad review may not be the end of the world, it can become a chance to build a stronger relationship with a customer. This is called the service recovery paradox, which is a result of a positive service recovery, causing customer satisfaction/loyalty greater than expected if a service failure hadn’t happened in the first place.