How do you typically choose a new restaurant? Do you wing it, hoping it’s good, or do you do your research? Odds are, you do your research and a big portion of that research is likely spent reading the online reviews. The more five-star reviews your small business has, the more likely new customers will be willing to give you a shot!
As important as online reviews are in today’s business climate, gaining a good reputation can be slow-moving. Not to mention, when you’re competing with huge companies that have thousands of reviews, it’s easy to get discouraged. Don’t fret—the reviews will come! Here are some tips to make the process faster.
If you already have an active email list, you’re halfway there. If someone is subscribed to your email list, that means they like you! They want to hear from you, and that’s a great opportunity to encourage reviews. If you don’t have an email list, start one! Sign up with an email marketing software, and add a popup to your website, prompting people to join the list. Then, you can create a triggered email campaign—whenever someone places an order, they’ll automatically get an email asking them to leave a review. Their positive experience on your website will be fresh on their minds, not to mention they’re already on their computers!
We aren’t suggesting that you ask every customer you come face-to-face with to leave a review, but there are subtle, yet effective ways you can get the people in your physical small business to go home and leave a great review. Something as simple as a Yelp sticker on your front window, or a tabletop sign asking your customers to leave a review can go a long way. Consider prompting reviews on the bottoms of your receipts or on your business card. By advertising offline that you want more reviews, you reach all of your customers—old and new.
Reply, Reply, Reply!
Keep in mind that when you encourage your customers to write more reviews, you’re opening yourself up to bad reviews, too. The best way to deal with all kinds of reviews is to reply to them. Try to turn negative reviews into positive experiences! A lot of customers just want to be listened to, not to mention other people will see your reply—they’ll know that you care, and that you’re active in your business.
According to a study in the Harvard Business Review, replying to customer reviews results in better ratings overall. Researchers also found that customers who see management interact with another review are more likely to rate you higher, and are less likely to leave trivial or unsubstantiated bad reviews.
Whenever you get a particularly glowing review, share it! Share it everywhere! Not only does it help you advertise your business and your exceptional product or service, but it also serves as social proof in action. People look to others to learn what’s correct; it’s human nature. So when customers see a nice review, it inspires and encourages them to do the same. You have to work with what you’ve got, so if you’re struggling to get reviews, make sure you’re making the most of the good ones!
You can use every tip and trick in the book, but if your customer service is bad, your reviews will always be bad. People are far more likely to leave a scathing review after a terrible experience than a glowing one after a great experience. You have to go above and beyond, because people walk through your doors already expecting great service. To make an impact, you really have to wow them. No one’s going to leave a review for a mundane or simply pleasant visit. Show them you care by going the extra mile, and hire employees who will go the extra mile without you having to ask. Things like giving small discounts for inconveniences, or getting them what they need before they ask, go a long way.
If you’re generous with your customers, they’re more likely to be generous with you! They’ll remember your kindness and hopefully return the favor in the best way they can—an online review.
For more small business advice and networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs like you, contact Birmingham’s Entrepreneurs’ Organization today.