Written By: Wendy Ogryzek, June Bachman and Teresa Mitchell ~
Consider for a moment this statistic: More than 80% of search engine results point to social networking results and review websites . . . instead of to the business’ website.
While all types of businesses are being reviewed online, the most frequently reviewed businesses are “business to consumer” businesses.
Customer reviews are:
- Read by your prospective customers and can influence their buying decision.
- Advertisements of the quality of your work, customer service and products – and they cost nothing.
- Credible sources that provide a sense of security to your new customers.
- An attainable means to improve your local listing ranking.
Customer review websites are local directories that allow users to review businesses. The major search engines include this review data in their local listings for your business. Here is a list of customer review websites that every business owner should be aware of:
- Google Places
- Yahoo Local
- Bing Local
- City Search
Additional review websites include:
- Insiderpages.com -- Primary focus is rating those in the medical and health care fields - but also features restaurants, beauty and home & garden.
- MerchantCircle.com -- Promotes businesses using online user reviews - paid advertising systems. Businesses can create a local coupon book.
- JudysBook.com -- Reviews guides such as top ten auto mechanics.
- AngiesList.com -- Paid service for consumers to get certified, unbiased reviews of local businesses.
- TripAdvisor.com -- Filters travel destinations by user reviews.
- OpenTable.com -- Consumers can make reservations, reviews restaurants.
- BBB.org -- New to user reviews . . . but all businesses should be monitoring this source.
- Buzzillions.com -- Focused on products ... electronics, computers, sporting equipment, clothes. Manufacturers and retailers should be aware of this one.
- Epionions.com -- Solicits reviews on anything a person can buy online.
- Wize.com -- Best and worst products - based on consumer need. Focus is electronics and appliances.
- PowerReviews.com -- Connects consumers with reviews about products they care about.
How to get started
Most review websites will require your business to be listed with their site/directory. Take the time to find several different reviews sites and create your business account. Be sure to complete your account profile with as much detailed information as you can.
Equally, most review websites will require your customer to first create and verify their account. They will need to be signed into their account to post a review about your website.
How to write a review on Google
Creating reviews on most websites is easy, however Google ‘s is a bit more difficult. Below we outlined the 5 steps to submitting a review to Google Places. You can pass these on to your clients and prospective customers and make their submission of a review equally as easy.
1. Log into Google account - must have one ... and set your image as well.
2. Search "places" for the business you want to review (or give your clients a link).
3. Select the "place page" of the business.
4. Scroll to find the "rate and review" link.
5. Type your review and select the publish button.
How to get more customer reviews and testimonials
Customer reviews and testimonials have tangible benefits to your business and local search ranking. That said, it is in your interest to:
- Always deliver amazing good service.
- Get a testimonial at or close to the point of sale when consumer motivation is at its highest point and they are flattered to share their “happiness.”
- Telephone or email - soon after the sale, contact the customer.
- Ask them if they would share their experience and satisfaction in an online review.
- Ask your customers to be specific. Great testimonials and reviews contain specific details of your customer’s experience and deliver more enthusiasm and build trust more effectively than vaguely written reviews.
- Always ask for permission to use your customer's testimonials. Ask to use their name, business name and city/state. It makes the testimonial more credible.
- Always thank them for providing you with a review.
- Offer an incentive such as a coupon for a discount on a future purchase to thank the customer for taking the time to write and / or post a review.
- Ask your customer to "be a reference." This is a powerful perspective, as the customer is essentially telling a prospect why they should buy from you.
- Host a client appreciation event. Invite your customers to record a video testimonial or review. Give something back by letting them also make a short video about their business as well. This could be a real win-win for all involved! You can transcribe the video reviews and ask your clients to post the information on review website.
- Create a survey you can send to your clients. Organize the questions in such a way that clients who rate you 8,9 or 10 on a 1-10 scale are referred to one of your review website pages where they can submit their review right then.
Online Reputation Management
If you find negative reviews about your business. Don't panic, this is an opportunity to exercise diplomacy and put your problem solving skills to work in your best interest! Besides, most people are reasonable and know there are two sides to every story.
- First, make sure you have an account with the website that lists your negative review.
- Second, respond to the negative review. Less than 4% of businesses take the time to respond.
This is your chance to not only make the situation right with the disappointed client, but also offer additional details that may have been left out of the initial negative post.
- Never be defensive. Remain objective and focused on the situation at hand. This is your chance to demonstrate how you handle mistakes or situations that didn't turn out as expected.
- Remember, a bad review may be a gift ... it will give you a chance to reflect and evaluate the customer's experience. Perhaps it is an opportunity to improve something of which you were previously unaware.
Pave the way for your customers
Teach your customers how to provide you with great online reviews. The online review process can be extremely difficult, the easier you can make it for your customers, the more reviews you will receive.
- Create a page on your website that offers easy directions for making online reviews, as well as direct links where reviews can be made. Include the steps needed for creating accounts with the review websites.
Reviews are now included in 80% of all search results, which are powerful trust building statements about you, your business, and the quality of the product or service you provide. There are simple, easy steps that you can take today – right now – to put this tool to work for you immediately.
Create a Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo Local account. Ask your next customer for a testimonial and reviews . . . . Begin advertising your business, influencing your customers, and improving your search engine ranking with customer reviews today!