For most local businesses, online reputation management is vital to success. 86% of people read local business reviews, according to a recent survey by BrightLocal. High online ratings make it much easier to attract new customers and thrive.
But many companies are making major mistakes in the online review space. It’s easy to forget about review management in the midst of all the other tasks vying for your attention, or to get impatient for results and choose tactics that could devastate your business later on.
Make sure you’re not jeopardizing your company’s success with any of these local business review mistakes.
1. Writing your own reviews
Self-reviewing your business is one of the worst online reputation mistakes you can make. Aside from being unethical, this tactic can lead to an embarrassing scandal and various other damaging consequences. All it takes is for one savvy customer or unhappy employee to call you out, leading to a PR nightmare. And that’s just the beginning.
If Google discovers you have been posting fake reviews, they will likely ban you — not just from Google reviews, but also from appearing in Google searches. This can be devastating for businesses that depend on online search traffic to attract customers.
Writing your own reviews can even lead to legal action. Posting fake reviews is categorized as deceptive advertising, which is illegal under the Federal Trade Commission. You could end up with a devastatingly large fine that ultimately costs you more than you gained in increased sales.
2. Not asking customers to write reviews for your local business
One of the easiest and most effective things you can do to boost your online reputation is to ask customers for reviews. Happy customers often need a little more motivation to write a review than unhappy customers, who may want to get an issue resolved or warn others away. By asking, you will provide that motivation and almost certainly raise your online ratings.
A survey from BrightLocal found that 70% of customers will write a review for a business when asked. In light of this statistic, it’s surprising how many businesses fail to make a habit of asking for reviews.
We suggest telling employees to ask customers for reviews at the same time they thank them for their business. You can take this a step further by using a customer review software to send an email or text message to clients, as we discuss farther down.
3. Not responding to reviews
When you’re consistently posting on social media, updating your website, and asking for online reviews, it’s easy to feel like you’re doing enough customer outreach. But these actions will not have nearly as much impact if you fail to actively engage with customers who reach out on these platforms. A great online reputation has to start with customer service.
Consumers want to see that you care about them enough to respond. If you promptly reply to questions and reviews, they will see that you care about their experiences and want to help with any problems they may have. On the other hand, not responding will come across to customers as though you’re ignoring them.
Many customers expect a response when they leave feedback, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. Make sure you’re meeting those expectations, or it may come back to haunt you.
4. Failing to resolve reviewers’ issues
Most customers who write negative reviews just want their issues resolved. If you don’t take the appropriate steps to handle a customer’s negative review, they will feel ignored and leave with a bad impression of your company.
As a bare minimum, you should forward negative comments to the appropriate department and let the customer know you’re working on a solution. This type of response shows you at least care enough to reply, although it isn’t ideal. A “We are forwarding your comments” suggests the customer’s issue could get lost in the bureaucracy of a busy company, especially if you don’t leave a follow-up comment once the problem has been resolved.
To really differentiate yourself, post a follow-up response outlining the solution within a few hours of the review. This not only helps you win back unhappy customers but also impresses new prospects who are using reviews to make a purchasing decision.
5. Not using a review generation tool
A review generation tool is one of the best ways to get more local business reviews. There are many free customer review software options that allow you to quickly request reviews, which can free up a lot of time for other tasks. You can set up a professional email template, enter in the customer’s name and email address, and easily send a review request right then and there.
Some review generation tools can also alert you to negative feedback before it is posted online. For example, Kudo will prompt customers for feedback, direct unhappy customers to a private site, and alert you so you can reach out to resolve the problem.
Kudo is a forever free, easy-to-use customer review software. We won’t even ask for your credit card when you sign up. Sign up for Kudo to begin improving your local business’s reviews today. GET IT FOR FREE >