Customer reviews are everything for local businesses. If you’ve been in the game for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that unhappy customers tend to be overrepresented in reviews, which can result in deceptively low average ratings. Those negative reviews can discourage prospects from purchasing from you.
But who has time to actively manage their local business reviews? And how do you ethically improve your online ratings, anyway?
We know just how frustrating it can be to flounder in the online review space. That’s why we’ve put together a four-step formula to help you improve your local business reviews.
1. Invite more customers to write reviews
It’s easy to think you don’t have to ask customers for local business reviews. After all, customer reviews are supposed to be user-generated content.
But doing nothing is likely to result in an overabundance of negative reviews.
That’s because unhappy customers are often more motivated to leave a review than everyone else. These customers typically either have a problem they want solved or a desire to warn other customers away after a bad experience. Happy customers don’t have as much motivation to leave a review.
If you don’t proactively ask for reviews, it’s quite likely that your best customers will never speak up. A few unhappy customers will be overrepresented among your local business reviews. This makes your business seem worse than it really is and discourages prospects from giving your services a try.
So, what can you do about it?
One of the easiest solutions is to invite more customers to write reviews. This can be as simple as entering the customer’s name and email address into a free review generation tool like Kudo. A polite reminder or request is often just enough motivation to get more of your happy customers to leave reviews, offsetting any negative reviews.
If you get a higher proportion of your customers to write reviews, you’re likely to end up with a higher percentage of happy customers sharing their experiences. More local business reviews = better average online ratings.
2. Focus on customer service
Customer service is essential to every business, from freelancers to local restaurants to growing agencies. You’ll see your customer service reflected directly in your local business reviews.
The number one issue customers write about in negative online reviews is poor customer service. When a customer feels let down, they may feel a need to warn others away from your business so they don’t have the same experience. Many customers are more aggravated by lacking customer service than a faulty product.
If you can create an outstanding customer experience for each of your customers, you’ll notice a sharp decline in negative reviews.
Another reason to focus on customer service is that it will mitigate the impact of any negative experiences that do happen. Great customer service can calm down an unhappy customer, and in some cases it can solve a customer’s problem.
One example of using customer service to mitigate negative experiences is to reply to any negative local business reviews with a helpful attitude. If you politely apologize for the customer’s negative experience and work toward a solution, prospects reading your reviews will see that you care. They will have a better impression of you and be more likely to convert. The reviewer may also choose to update their review with a higher rating.
Better yet, you could provide unhappy customers with service before they leave a review. A free customer review software like Kudo can make it easy to reach out to customers. From there, you can redirect those who have had a negative experience to a private site where you can resolve their problem.
Excellent customer service ensures customers feel positive about your business. If you focus on the customer experience, it will reflect well in your online reviews.
3. Use customer feedback
While customer service is important, it’s not the entire customer experience. There may be larger problems with your offerings or added features that could make all the difference for your customers. An amazing product or surprisingly comprehensive service is often just as important to your local business reviews as your customer service.
To get good reviews, delight customers with a highly functional, easy-to-use product. Figure out what consumers in your niche are struggling with and find a way to fix it.
One way to get feedback about customers’ struggles is to look to your online reviews. Chances are, customers who are struggling with an aspect of your product or who would appreciate an additional feature will say so in the reviews.
Don’t just look at your negative reviews. Many 4- and 5-star reviewers will also mention something they would have liked to see in your product. Look for comments with language like, “If only it had ____,” or “The only way to make it better would be ____.” Also make a note of if customers say they found something confusing or difficult to navigate: these are prime opportunities for improvement!
The most innovative companies have always sought out customer feedback to inform their product development. Be one of them and watch your online reputation grow.
4. Use an online reputation management service to improve your local business reviews
At this point, you may be wondering where you will find the time or manpower to implement these processes. Luckily, you don’t have to. You can use software to do most of the work, freeing up your time for other aspects of your business.
Kudo allows you to request more online reviews, connect to any major review site, redirect unhappy customers to a private site, receive alerts so you can resolve customers’ issues before someone writes a negative review, and more. It only takes a few minutes to set up. From there, all you have to do is enter a name and email address whenever you want to request a review.
A free review generation tool like Kudo can streamline the process of improving your online ratings. It’s a breath of fresh air for busy business owners and employees.
By consistently applying these four steps, any company can transform its online reputation. We believe 5-star local business reviews come from a commitment to the customer experience and honest reputation management tactics. Learn more about us here or GET IT FOR FREE >