Online reviews have really come a long way since the early days of Yelp. It is crazy to think that Yelp has really only been around for twelve years. Angie’s List, where users can search for recommended home-related services, has Yelp beat by a few years. Now, you can find reviews for pretty much any business type. Most salons, for instance, have a review function built right into their booking system and website. Curious who has the best coffee in Villaverde, Spain? Not to worry – Tripadvisor (or Yelp) will have you covered. Airbnb would not exist if it weren’t for the buy-in from both users and hosts to share honest feedback and ratings for each other.
Reviews and ratings are a fact of life and a part of every business whether you like it or not. While you may take the reviews you read with a grain of salt, it is highly likely that you’ve used a review site in the past day, week, or at least in the past month.
Unless you are a brand with a pretty huge audience, chances are you are going to need help in building your reputation and awareness about your brand. If someone likes or dislikes you enough, they will find a way to share their opinion online. So it is probably best to get ahead of online feedback. Embrace it and use your happy customers to your advantage. Sure, won’t be able to please everyone. Anyone who has be on the receiving end of a negative review knows that. But there are a few steps that you can take to be proactive about feedback.
Follow These Steps to Proactively Manage Online Reviews
Your business page, that is. Start out by either claiming or adding your business on Google, Yelp, Tripadvisor, or any other site that might produce review results when searched. It is important that you verify that all information is accurate on these sites so that your customers can find you. Next, you will want to add any photos that you think accurately represent what you are offering. Pictures really are worth a thousand words when it comes to a potential customer checking out your business. Keep in mind that 86 million people visit Yelp from their phones. Mobile technology has truly changed the landscape of business trustworthiness. You will need to check that everything that you add or upload to your page looks right when viewing from a tablet or smartphone. You want to make a great first impression.
Be loud and proud.
It can feel awkward at first to promote yourself on a site that asks for your customers’ opinions. If you are able, try to have fun with it. Keep in mind that ultimately reviews are just another platform to engage with your customers, old and new. You should see positive results over time.
Once you’ve set up your profiles on all of the review sites that suit your business type, look for instructions to add those sites’ badges to your website. For example, if you are using WordPress, you can easily add the Yelp widget to your site. By putting links to finding reviews for your business, you can get more reviews, and show your potential customers that you are open to feedback. You can also contact Yelp to get stickers to put on your shop’s windows or at your cash wrap area.
If a customer takes the time to give you a compliment in person, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Thank you so much for the kind words. Check us out on Yelp." Yelp asks that business owners do not ask directly for reviews, but prompting your customers to “take a look” at Yelp directs them to a feedback site to engage in whatever way they are comfortable.
If you get a great review, some review sites allow you to share a customer review on Facebook or other Social channel. Take the time to familiarize yourself with each site’s benefits for business owners. While most review sites are inherently on the side of the reviewer, they also want to give businesses an opportunity to engage with their site and to encourage traffic to their site or app in general.
You can also use positive reviews in your marketing materials. If you have a regular who recently showed you some love online, ask that customer if they would mind if you quote them directly (i.e. no editing) for your website, advertisement, or flyers. If you gain status on a review site for having a high overall rating and positive feedback, be sure that you share that accomplishment. Visitors want to know they are dealing with a trustworthy brand.
Once you have a strategy in place for online feedback, how do you plan on handling the onslaught of negativity? Stay tuned, as we will reveal best practices for not-so-nice reviews.