Whether you like it or not, your customers are writing about their experiences on Google, Yelp, and other review platforms. I know that it can be frustrating or scary to read about your business from the customer perspective and, as you may know already, not all reviewers play fair.
However, as consumers increasingly rely on what they read in online reviews to make buying decisions, you must pay attention. With the right strategy and mindset, you can leverage online reviews to positively benefit and grow word-of-mouth for your business.
Here are a few of my favorite ways:
Improve Your Customer Experience
When you make a point of reading your reviews on a regular basis, you will gain a better understanding of how your customers perceive your business. You will learn more about what your customers love, and you might also identify opportunities for improvement. For example, neutral and negative reviews could alert you to fix lingering issues before they become larger problems.
As a best practice, I recommend that you respond publicly to each of your reviews. The habit of responding to reviews – whether they’re positive or negative – lets your customers know that their feedback and patronage are appreciated. A quick “thank you” may be all that’s needed for a positive review. A negative review often requires a more nuanced reply and an offline follow-up with the customer directly.
Recognize Your Employees
Your happy customers may sometimes call out employees by name in positive online reviews. When one of your employees is mentioned in a great review, I recommend that you share the customer’s feedback with your team in a staff meeting or otherwise, and let that employee know that they're appreciated. This kind of public acknowledgment helps to reinforce good behavior among your staff members, and may also show others how they can positively affect the customer experience.
Market Your Business and Attract More Customers
Your happy customers are your best advocates, so let them do the talking! Include content from great customer reviews on your marketing materials to provide another person’s perspective on your product or service. Consider streaming great customer reviews on your website as well. If done properly, reviews can help improve your website’s ranking on Google and other search engines. In any event, be sure to cite the source of or link back to these reviews, so that prospective customers can verify that these reviews are authentic and trustworthy.
When you promote great reviews online or otherwise, you’re signaling that reviews and feedback are important to your business. As a result, new customers may be inspired to return to Google, Yelp, and elsewhere to write about their experiences.
These are just a few of the ways that you can leverage online reviews to benefit your business. It’s important to develop a system to follow up with customers that not only works for your team but also makes it easy for customers to respond.