As a small business marketing consultant, I’m constantly telling my clients about the value of “social proof”, better know in the real world as reviews and referrals. Reviews serve multiple, essential benefits to a small business.
The Benefits of Small Businesses Collecting Reviews
- Helps you understand what clients like or don’t like about your services or products. No one can change and grow as an individual or business without feedback.
- Helps future customers know what it’s like to work with you. This can be priceless, as it wastes time for the business and the consumer if it’s not a good match. For example: I work with small businesses and nonprofits. Even though I’ve worked for regional and national companies, my passion is in intimate, high results situations. It would waste their time if a large company contacted me about services, as I’m not the perfect match for them.
- Reviews on Google actually help with search. The Google algorithm is constantly changing, but they do promote businesses higher on the Google My Business platform if they have a lot of reviews. The assumption is made that if lots of people are happy with a company, it must be a decent business.
What to Do and What Not to Do
- Create and save an HTML short link to your different review sites. Keep in mind that a Google review needs to be done through a Gmail/Google account. If someone doesn’t use Google, have other means to review your business. Facebook, Yelp and Manta are a few other options. Use a link generator such as https://tinyurl.com/app to create short links.
- Add the HTML link to emails or text messages. Note: If you have clients leave reviews while they are at your storefront or office, Google might remove them. The system realizes the reviews are coming from the same IP address and can flag them as suspicious. It’s best to send the link once you know the customer is not at your location.
- Never offer incentives. Google can remove the reviews as well as your business listing if you get caught incentivizing reviews.
- Time your “ask” after a particularity positive interaction or at the end of service.
- The more detail people leave the better. It helps legitimize the review and helps a future customer understand how you are better than your competition.
- Always respond to a review, good or bad.
- Do NOT “stuff” your reviews. Reviews are there to help people understand what it’s like to do business with you. Having friends or family create reviews just because they like you dilutes the truth. In addition, if Google determines reviews are “fake” they will be deleted or worse yet, your business can be banned. Just be honest, it helps everyone in the long run. As a note, if your friend or family member has done business with you, by all means have them leave feedback.
- DO keep a positive tone on your responses. I’ve had a few clients call me distraught when a bad review appears on their page. Their instinct is to fight back. That is a loosing situation and actually lends credibility to the bad review. Here’s what to do in any case…
1) Stay neutral. Apologize for any inconvenience or misunderstanding.
2) If you know for sure that you have never done business with them, let them know you don’t see them on your customer list.
3) If there is a legitimate problem, let them know what you are going to do to rectify the situation.
4) Give them your business phone number and the name of who they should speak to so they can work things out.
5) If you know for sure the review is fake, flag it. Google gives you the ability to protest reviews. Cases where this is an option would be: a review left by an employee which include untrue statements; a competitor; anything profane or threatening; spam; etc. Most other review platforms give the ability to remove a fake review, but you need to have some sort of back-up on why the review is fake. I’ve actually had several reviews removed for clients. It’s not a fast process, but it can be done in obvious situations.
6) Keep in mind there are TROLLS out there who just want to cause grief. Your average person will recognize a troll when they read a review. If your business’ reviews are positive but one or two are bad, don’t sweat it. Leave a positive response and move on. BUT, keep in mind if people keep mentioning the same drawback regarding your business, you have a problem that should be fixed. Ignore the trolls, but change things when you get real feedback.
If you need any additional insight, give me a call 502-435-8825