As a business owner or manager, your online reputation can be the difference between gaining a new customer or losing them to the competition. People read customer reviews prior to making a buying decision and this fact is more important to younger consumers (Millennials and Gen Z).

According to a recent survey published in Forbes, “respondents said they look for online positive reviews and positive news stories on a brand before making a big purchase. This behavior was more pronounced with Millennials and Generation Z who put a larger emphasis on peer reviews, like Google reviews, before making a purchase.” This is especially important as more people than ever before are online during this pandemic.

Largest Review Platforms

So how do you monitor the entire internet for customer reviews? Well it is a huge task, but to start, focus on the largest review platforms:

  • Google – Customers can leave reviews on the Google My Business (GMB) business listing and businesses can respond to reviews. If you don’t have a GMB account, this blog post explains how to get one. Also, businesses with good customer reviews are ranked higher by Google in search results.
  • Facebook – The social media giant changed its customer reviews a couple of years ago from a “star” rating to a “recommended” rating. These ratings are picked up by the major search engines, so keeping your Facebook rating positive is important. A person can only leave a review if your business has a business Facebook page.
  • Yelp – Popular website for hospitality businesses such as bars and restaurants.
  • TripAdvisor and Expedia – Over a billion people per month visit these travel websites. Hotels, vacation rentals, tourist activities, tours, and even guest/hunting ranches should all be listed on these sites.
  • The Knot and Wedding Wire – The two most popular wedding planning websites. Any businesses that cater to weddings should be here, including hotels or vacation rentals that want honeymooners.

All of these sites have the ability to send email notifications when a customer leaves a review, so monitoring is simple once everything is setup.

How to Get More Reviews

Ask! Many customers will respond with a review when asked. Email is the easiest way to ask for a review. In the email, ask the customer how about their buying experience then insert links to the review pages on Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, The Knot, or Wedding Wire. Expedia does this for you if the traveler booked through the website. Give the customer options as some may prefer to leave reviews on certain websites.

If you have a business, such as a restaurant, where it is difficult to get a customer’s email address to ask for a review, consider installing a Google beacon. The beacon is a small bluetooth device that can be installed in the building that prompts the customer on their cellphone to leave a review or add photos to your GMB page. This is an easy method to dramatically increase customer reviews. To learn how to acquire and configure a beacon, visit this Google support page.

Responding to Reviews

Businesses should respond to all reviews, positive or negative. This action shows the customer, as well as prospects, that you are engaged and value good customer service.

If you get a negative review, keep the response positive. Reach out to the customer with a phone call or email and try to resolve the issue. Offer discounts or other incentives to make the customer happy. Once the issue is resolved, ask the customer to change the review or delete the review and create a new one. Having negative reviews out there on the internet will hurt future business.

Most review platforms will not allow a business to delete negative reviews. So it is in the best interest of the business to resolve customer issues. The only way to overcome a negative review is with many more positive reviews. So asking everyone for a customer review will identify customer service issues and help online reputation. If a problem can not be resolved, or if a non-customer (like a competitor) leaves a negative review, Google has a process to dispute reviews.

Increasing customer reviews is the most effective strategy to:

  • Improving conversions – A conversion is someone that sees your business online and converts to a lead or a customer.
  • Identifying Areas for Improvement – A review is like a customer survey that tells a business what it is doing well and not so well.
  • Improve Online Reputation
  • Improve SEO and Local SEO search result ranking.

Monitoring customer reviews is an important piece to an overall digital marketing strategy. By improving and increasing customer reviews, customers and repeat customers will increase. The best part is it doesn’t cost anything but time and effort. If you have questions or need help, let us know.