While many companies continue to shout rank and position from the rooftops, statistics are proving that you have to have more than this to garner sales and success from your online marketing efforts. In fact, it takes a concert of activities to really get things moving and keep them rocking along when marketing online. No matter where you show up on the page, one of the main action items that keeps you in the mix is getting good reviews.

Why Do Reviews Matter?

We have been preaching for several years to not rely on things you cannot control, and your rank and position is one of those things. Even if you have been #1 for the last several years, no one knows if or when Google or Bing will make a change that will impact where you currently are. Just ask around and you will easily find someone that has lost potential customers from living at the whim of a search engine algorithm.

Would it not be better to make such a good name for yourself in your area that people start searching for you by name? To provide such excellent service that even if a searcher has never heard of your company, the reviews that pop up next to your name quickly convince them you’re the company they should go with?

82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in order to make a decision about a product or service. The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business. And only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars. So if you don’t have any reviews, you don’t have many reviews, or you don’t have very good reviews, you’re missing out on a lot of potential business.

As business owners, we must recognize that consumers are growing smarter as they search for information that makes them feel good about making a decision. They know that website rank and position can be manipulated or bought with ads, and they understand that many good and bad companies have good-looking websites. It’s the reviews that separate these companies.

One business owner we work with has so many great reviews on Google and Angie’s List, as well as in a lot of other places, that when he got knocked back to the third page of Google search results, it did not impact his business. People still found him because he has great reviews in all the right places.

Side note: Yes, Google, Amazon, and others have a ‘fake review’ problem, but 76% of people still trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends, so don’t give up on reviews and their importance.

Do People Really Trust Reviews?

Consumers are looking for quality businesses to hire and to make purchases from, and they are looking for those companies online. 88.47% are searching in Google, and Google surfaces a variety of results. Customers may or may not make it your website, but if they’re considering your business, they’re definitely looking at your Google Business Profile (GBP), which has reviews on it. What are your reviews saying about you?

If you have been in business for long, you understand the power of a friend and family referral. With the majority of people (89% of 35-54-year-olds) trusting reviews as much as a personal referral, you must get into the practice of getting good reviews for your business day in and day out.

When Can You Stop Focusing On Reviews?

We have clients who have well over a hundred great reviews, and we encourage them to continue asking for the reviews during their workdays. Getting current reviews is always important for both the consumer (who wants to make sure you are still doing good work), as well as the search engines (because they love to put out current information). On the customer front, 48% of customers say an online review needs to be written within the last 2 weeks to impact their decision. 30% say within the last month.

So the answer is: you can pretty much never stop focusing on reviews.

The one caveat I will say when it comes to reviews is this: if you don’t do good business and you consistently get negative reviews, then you will kill your business over time, no matter where you are on the first page of Google or how many reviews you have. This is why having your business in order, with good systems and practices, are paramount before actively seeking online reviews. Let’s talk more about that…

Customer Service Matters

I am amazed how many businesses believe the review process starts once the service or product has been delivered. The fact is, the review process starts with the first contact a business has with the client or customer. Overwhelmingly, the number one area upon which all businesses will be reviewed is customer service. In today’s business climate, no matter what you sell or the service you provide, customer service matters.

You only have ONE chance to make a first impression. Whether you like it or not, the very first impression you make stays with people throughout the service or product experience. That means choosing who to have as your front line sales is a very important decision. They need to be able to understand, communicate, empathize, and work well with people! They start the relationship and the review cycle starts as well.

We’re not talking about providing Instagrammable selfie-walls and experiences, we’re talking about just treating your customers right. Being helpful, courteous, respectful, punctual…all those things you were taught to be as a kid. The best businesses take great care of their customers by providing exceptional customer service. But with a lot of companies treating their customers like United passengers these days, it doesn’t take much to wow a customer. Just be decent and good reviews should never be a problem for you.

How Do You Get Reviews?

Aside from knocking it out of the park in the service department, how can you make sure reviews keep coming in for your business? For service companies, one relatively effective way to consistently get reviews is to leave behind a card with all the information the client needs to review the service. The technician needs to be coached to hand that card out once the service has been completed and say, “Please review our service. It’s the best way for us to make sure our quality was what you expected.”

Of course there are also other great options for getting reviews:

  • Including the ask and a link in your email signature when sending invoices or other correspondence to customers
  • Investing in a review management tool like GatherUp
  • Asking customers for reviews during follow-up customer satisfaction phone calls

No matter what, you have to ask. 51% of people who are asked to leave a review for a business will.

Pro tip: It can also be helpful to have your front line person set the expectation that you will be asking for a review. Even something as simple as, “We will ask you for a review at the end of our service,” gets the customer thinking about reviews and the details they might want to include.

How Should You Respond To A Negative Review?

Okay, but what do you do when the inevitable happens: you get a negative review?

One of the things I see most often publicized is negative/fake review responses from business owners that are knee jerk and not well thought out. Jimmy Fallon and Aziz Ansari even did multiple dramatic readings of some serious shockers. You definitely don’t want your business highlighted for a heat-of-the-moment, totally inappropriate review response. This is why we coach business owners to wait 24 hours before they respond to anything negative. You have to get over the pure human response of being hurt, found out (yes, sometimes you screw up) or exposed. This gives you time to gain some perspective.

Then, let them have it on paper. That’s right. Write down exactly what you would like to say to this person. This is like free therapy, so get it all out. Then take a minute to read it, take it in, and tear it up or erase it (if you do it on the computer).

Note: Do not do this on Facebook or any other place where you can “accidentally” send it or someone else could read it. Nothing good can come from this being available to the public.

Now, sit down and again, on paper, write out a well-crafted response, taking responsibility if needed for the situation, and outlining what you propose to do about it. If you have a business coach or someone in your marketing department, run your response through them as another filter. (Psst. We help our clients with review responses all the time). Put something together that answers the complaint and lets the unsatisfied customer know you care about what has happened.

While you want to make good with the customer, what you really want to do is show your potential customers who are viewing this bad review that you care enough to get back with your customers. You can only help people who give you the chance to make it right, and some customers simply won’t give you the chance. But demonstrating that you care and want to turn around an unsatisfied customer speaks loudly about what kind of company you are. People will notice this as much as the bad review itself.

Here are 5 tips on what not to say when responding to a negative review.

Now keep those killer reviews coming by delivering the best possible service, each and every time! And remember, if you ever need help with review monitoring or acquisition, just give us a holler.