Online reviews hold tremendous power. Case in point: last month, before dining at a restaurant that was recommended to me, I quickly looked up its rating on Google. The first couple of reviews mentioned “bland food” and “bug in my food.” Needless to say, I never walked in the restaurant (or trusted my friend’s restaurant recommendation again).

93% of consumers say online reviews have an impact on their purchase decision and 97% of consumers looked for reviews of local businesses in 2017. Online customer reviews have a profound impact on your business and it’s important to improve your online reputation to increase your share of wallet and create social proof.

In this post, we explore 7 ways to improve your online reviews and manage your reputation online.

1.  Educate your customers on leaving reviews

77% of consumers would be willing to write a review if asked, but with so many review sites, many don’t know where to leave them. Taking a minute to educate your customers on the value of leaving a review can be vital for your company.

For instance, you could have your account managers ask your customers to leave a review when they’re talking to them on the phone, or ask them to leave a review on their next invoice. You could also have a countertop display at your physical location explaining how to leave a review and which site to do it on, and make review cards to hand out to customers. Once your promoters understand how valuable their reviews are, they’ll want to leave one.

2. Provide excellent customer service

Consumers today are looking for an excellent customer experience and it’s no coincidence that the companies who provide great customer service have better reviews. Customer experience must be at the center of everything you do and your customers should always feel appreciated.

According to American Express, consumers tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, so it’s important to provide great service or those people may leave a negative review. To improve customer service, offer multiple channels of customer support, optimize wait and response times, and proactively close the loop with your customers.

3. Optimize listings on each platform

On each major review site you can claim your listing and create a business profile. This allows you to update the listing with current information and photos. Your description should be meaningful and invite consumers to check out your product or service. Optimized listings improve your online presence and search engine traffic.

4. Respond to negative reviews

No company likes getting negative reviews, but it’s important to respond to negative reviews as not doing so tells your customers that you don’t care about their feedback. When responding, always let the customer know that you hear them and you’re willing to make it right. Offer to take the situation offline and empathize with the customer. This tells your current customers that you care about their experience with your company and gives potential customers confidence to do business with you. It’s important to respond to negative reviews on listings as well as social media.

5. Constantly monitor your online presence

There are hundreds of review sites and your company could be on any of them. It’s critical that you look for reviews of your company everywhere, even if it’s not on the sites you usually use like Google Maps, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. This can be a time-consuming process, so using reputation management software can help you monitor your reviews across multiple sites and track trends in sentiment or topic over time so you can see how you’re doing.

6. Ask for reviews through survey requests

At the end of a survey you’ve sent to your customers, ask if they’re willing to leave a review on the site of your choice. If they answer “yes,” provide them a link directly to the review platform of your choice. You’ll need a survey platform that utilizes survey logic to determine if the customer will leave a positive or negative review, so you can encourage only your promoters to share their experience publicly. If they’ve had a bad experience, you’ll still want to hear more about it — after all, that’s how you improve! — but make sure you provide them with a private channel to do so rather than on popular public sites.

7. Offer an incentive

Although many customers will give a review without an incentive, offering an incentive can be helpful if your business is just new or you’re trying to get reviews quickly (it can be a red flag though if you get too many reviews too fast, so try to stagger them). Review sites frown upon companies paying customers for reviews, but offering discounts, coupons, or a small freebie is perfectly fine. Also, ensure customers know that getting the incentive is not conditional for leaving a positive review.

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