If you were hoping online review sites like Yelp would go away, I’m afraid that won’t be happening anytime soon. In fact, according to the latest statistics, in the 10 years Yelp has been around, it has accumulated listings from 86,000 businesses and 67 million reviews.
And as far as consumers go, a survey earlier this year found that among U.S. adult Internet users, 79 percent check online reviews at least some of the time before making a purchase. In fact, consumers want even more from their reviews.
One entrepreneur has taken online reviews a step further and created HeyLets, a review site that provides a personalized feed of recommendations from users who have similar interests.
If one of your businesses resolutions for the New Year is to improve your online reviews, here are three tips to (practically) guarantee a five-star rating:
1. Don’t Ignore the Bad Reviews.It’s easy to say, “Be proactive and not reactive,” but when it comes to online reviews you may not even know you have unhappy customers until they show up complaining on review websites and ruining your online reputation. The best strategy is to answer positively and not defensively. Whether you feel the review is fair or unfair, your policy should be to take the situation offline and see what you can do to change the customer’s opinion of your business. Make sure you make the offer to resolve the issue in the body of your comments, so others can see you care about what they think about your business.
2. Give What You Get.
If you have business clients, then it’s a good idea to leave positive reviews about their businesses, too. Building collaborative relationships means writing testimonials and writing reviews, not just trying to get them. Hopefully, these (and other) businesses will return the favor. Don’t forget to endorse your clients on LinkedIn and like their businesses on Facebook.
3. Ask Happy Customers For a Review.
The more you encourage your clients to sing your praises online, the further down any bad reviews will get buried among the good ones. Make sure you follow up a project or sale with a thank you and tactfully ask for the review in the body of the thank-you email or in the card you send. (Be careful about how you solicit reviews, Yelp frowns upon this practice.)
Remember, most clients and customers don’t think about reviewing a business unless they have a bad experience. It’s up to you to remind the happy ones to do so, so that they get heard, too!
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