Customers are increasingly in control of the buying process. They make decisions without calling your sales team. They don’t read your marketing materials. Then, they share their thoughts, good and bad, on review sites all around the web. Business owners don’t complain about the good ones, but the bad ones can drive them crazy.
Positive reviews are not only a target for business owners, but the focus of study for many university professors. Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor are routinely studied. The Harvard Business School found that a one star increase in your Yelp rating led to a five to nine percent increase in revenue. That’s fairly compelling if you are contemplating whether social media participation can help your business.
One more bit of evidence: Cornell University found that “a one-point increase in a review score (on a five-point scale) allows a hotel to increase its price by up to 11.2 percent without scaring away customers.”
My Forbes post: How To Get Positive Reviews shares another recent study, this time at Stanford, which looked at how consumers use Amazon reviews. Ultimately, you have to take consumer reviews seriously.
Here are a few tips from Vedran Tomic, local Internet marketing expert and the co-founder of Local Ants, LLCabout how to get more positive reviews.
Have a system in place to ensure a couple of negative reviews don’t harm your business. The best way to do that, of course, is make sure negative reviews don’t happen in the first place. This is easy to say, hard to do. However, there are good tools like FreshDesk or ZenDesk to help you manage your customer service process.
A great customer service process will help you to make sure the good reviews outweigh the bad. The New York Times pointed out – most reasonable people are going to discount the gushing, positive accolades as well as the scathing negative customer who expects you to give him or her the moon.
When you get a negative review, do what you can to make it right. Avoid retaliating. Too many small and mid-sized businesses make a mistake of defending themselves and not acknowledging their part in any mistake. Forget the legal threats, too, because it almost always makes it worse.
How To Get More Positive Reviews
Mr. Tomic emphatically explained that you should not create fake reviews. It takes effort and a delicate balance to organically grow your positive reviews, but it can be done. He suggests that instead of offering rewards solely to get a review, take a survey approach. Ask your customers about their experience, use this to improve your overall operations, and occasionally ask your customers if they would like to share their experiences online. You can then link to various options for them to leave a review.
Read the New York Times piece: There’s Power in All Those User Reviews. The MarketingLand post discusses some of the opening stats: Survey: 90% Of Customers Say Buying Decisions Are Influenced By Online Reviews.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.