A positive reputation online is imperative ─ it can help your company sell more than any salesperson and is insurance for every dollar you spend on advertising. Online reviews are the permanent digital billboards that don’t go away.
By Alexi Venneri – Contributing Writer
Sep 6, 2018, 3:23pm
Every day you have positive interactions with customers. Maybe you know they had a positive experience because they told you right then and there. But your reviews on websites like Yelp and Google aren’t showing it. A positive reputation online is imperative ─ it can help your company sell more than any salesperson and is insurance for every dollar you spend on advertising. Online reviews are the permanent digital billboards that don’t go away.
According to Digital Air Strike’s Sixth Annual Social Media Trends study, 79 percent of consumers use Google to search for businesses, and with Google showcasing star ratings from online review sites, that means a lot of people are going to see how others rate you.
Unmanaged review sites: the land of extremes
Customer experiences are generally on a bell curve. You’ll have the few people on each end of the spectrum that either had a fabulous experience or a very negative one, but most are going to fall somewhere in between. We find the vast majority of consumers are happy with their experiences with businesses, but most won’t take the time or make an effort to go online to tell others unless you make it really, really easy for them to do so. That’s why you see more extreme reviews or hardly any at all.
So how do you boost your star ratings or at least get a more accurate online representation of how more of your customers feel about your business?
Ask and you shall receive
Funny how simply asking can get you all the feedback you need. Companies need to be open to surveying their customers post-transaction and asking for feedback directly. The responses can highlight positive performances, areas that need to be improved and situations that need to be resolved immediately so that they don’t end up as a customer complaint online. For Yelp reviews, companies can ask “Yelpers” to “check in” to their location and write a review to get more wide-ranging feedback that is less extreme.
Companies should become more open to feedback and create their own survey process to generate more comments from all customers. There are tools and software to help companies with the survey process including requesting feedback by email and even text message, as messaging is fast becoming the favored form of communication. The first goal in surveying your customers should be to get feedback and USE IT, including sharing compliments with your staff and celebrating positive feedback while addressing any issues that you uncover when consumers have suggestions for improvement.
Some tools give you the functionality to allow your customers the option to then post their survey feedback online and create online reviews. The first goal in surveying customers should be to get the feedback and do something with it. If you are uncovering problems and fixing issues, your customer satisfaction will go up and your business overall should improve. The second goal is to make it easy for customers to leave public feedback. Overall, if the majority of customers like your business, then you will see your online ratings and reviews increase in volume and star ratings which in turn will result in better organic search results and more traffic to your website and business.
Yelp is the only review site that doesn’t allow businesses to ask all of their customers for feedback through surveys, which would give a much more accurate picture of experiences across the spectrum. That’s why Yelp will always be the most extreme review site, but as mentioned earlier, you can encourage “Yelpers” to check in at your business, including giving them a coupon or other reward to do so, and the Yelp mobile app will prompt them for feedback.
Make sure to act on customer feedback. Asking customers about their experience can quickly turn around a bad situation. You’re showing that as a company, you truly care about your customers’ experiences and want to know how to be better in the future. Being responsive to online reviews and survey feedback goes a long way to not only turn an unhappy consumer around, but it helps to bring in new customers. Potential customers will see how you were willing to fix a situation and will be more likely to do business with you than if there never was an issue to resolve.
Responding to all reviews, positive and negative, also shows your customers that you care about their experience. In addition, acting on feedback will help identify patterns of less than stellar consumer experiences to change people, processes and behaviors to ensure customers do have a much better experience.
Businesses are becoming more responsive and willing to adapt to the changing way today’s customers want to interact with them. They’re using artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as Digital Air Strike’s Smart Survey and Texting to get feedback and our Response Path tool to interact with customers via AI messaging 24/7, including scheduling appointments and even helping them buy products. Since most negative reviews are about how customers didn’t like the service from the staff at a company, employing tools and technology streamlines the process and saves the important person-to-person interactions for your most experienced and trusted team members.
In a polarizing digital world, it’s crucial to seek engagement from those in the middle of the bell curve. All you have to do is ask ─ and use new tools and technology to make it easy for consumers. Actively request online reviews, good or bad, to improve your online reputation and your business.