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Reaping referrals: 6 steps to get more online reviews

According to research by Brightlocal, 98% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. Not only that, but 87% won’t even consider a business with less than a three-star review. Now, more than ever, obtaining genuine and relevant feedback is important. And we have the steps you can take to level up your online reviews and referrals.

Step 1: Provide a stellar product or service

This should go without saying, but if you want to garner positive reviews from your customers or clients, the product or the service you provide needs to be top-notch. While it may not seem like it, Brightlocal’s research uncovered that only 6% of consumers leave negative reviews and 37% leave positive reviews. Most people understand that no business is perfect, so if they’re unhappy with their experience and you take the time to listen to their feedback and make adjustments, you may just win over new customers in the process.

Step 2: Optimize your online business profiles

If you haven’t set up your online business profiles, such as your Google Business Profile or your Yelp business page, it’s best to get that going as soon as possible (read: yesterday). Both profiles are free—all you have to do is claim them, and you’ll control the information that visitors see (e.g., contact information, list of services, business description).

You want your online business profiles to help potential customers do three things: 1) find your business easily, 2) read glowing reviews, and 3) convince them to purchase your products and services.

Step 3: Invest in a reputation management solution

It may seem daunting to stay on top of online reviews, but there are tools that can help you with this. Applications like Grade.us or Birdeye gather reviews from multiple sites and put them in one easy-to-access place for you to review and respond. These tools can also send review requests to your customers automatically, so it becomes part of your workflow without even thinking about it.

Step 4: Ask customers for reviews

One of the hardest parts of getting customer reviews is asking for them. But consider this fact from Brightlocal’s survey: 81% of consumers are “likely” or “highly likely” to leave a positive review if they feel the business went above and beyond to ensure an exceptional experience. And while 35% of consumers would leave a review for a negative experience, only 6% do so. There are several ways you can ask for reviews:

  • Send a request via email after purchase.

  • Contact customers or clients directly and ask for feedback.

  • Include feedback boxes at the close of online chat sessions.

  • Ask if you can use and share a customer’s positive experience.

  • Use your reputation management software to automate the “ask.”

  • Make it easy by providing a template for customers to use.

Step 5: Respond to all reviews— both good and bad

While it’s easy to respond to good reviews (and you need to do this), it can be more difficult to respond to negative ones. But the truth is, it’s better to respond than to let negative reviews go untouched. Potential customers will see that you’ve ignored the review (even if it was inadvertent) and feel that you don’t care that someone received subpar service.

Respond to negative reviews to thank customers for their honesty and provide the next steps to resolve the situation. This provides transparency and shows that you care about the level of service you provide and want to work toward resolution. These reviews can also provide valuable feedback to your team so you can improve your products and services. Never, ever remove a negative review—it’s dishonest, and consumers will see right through it.

Step 6: Boost referrals with a rewards program

If your customers are leaving positive reviews, chances are that they’ll also refer your business to their friends and family. All you have to do is ask…and sweeten the pot by offering a reward for referrals. Many people are motivated to provide referrals if they’ll receive payment, gift cards or special discounts in return.

Start reaping reviews

Now that you have these six steps in hand, make it a goal to put a review plan into action. It may take a little time for reviews to start rolling in, but making sure that you’re providing fantastic products and services is the best first step to get that review ball rolling.

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