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Upgrading Your Online Reviews

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It’s no secret that positive online reviews are key in developing a successful business. The internet is the most common way customers find new businesses, and reviews are the biggest determining factor in where they choose to go. 

“Eighty-eight percent of customers say they are influenced by online reviews in discovering new businesses,” says Brett Steele, Senior Account Executive at Podium, referencing the company’s yearly survey on the state of online reviews. Podium is an interaction management platform that specializes in customer interaction. “Forty-seven percent of customers are willing to pay more for services with high quality reviews and 58 percent will travel further for them,” he adds. 

But it’s not as simple as just having a 5.0 rating. A 5.0 review without a description doesn’t cut it. Customers want specifics. So what do you need to know about reviews and how do you take your business above and beyond? Ratchet+Wrench spoke with Steele to find out. 


The Big 3

What we know about consumers is that there are three things they typically look for when evaluating an online review:

  1. Quantity - the amount of reviews a business has. Consumers are less trustful of businesses with fewer reviews because there’s less to base their decision off of. It’s also an indicator of how big the business is and how big their reach is. Businesses that are leading the market or have a lot of customers coming in and out tend to have a lot of reviews. So naturally we associate quantity with confidence that we’re dealing with the best. 
  2. Quality - Sometimes consumers look at just rating and quantity, but many will continue to go in and actually look at the quality of the content. If the majority of the reviews are short, ‘Hey my experience is great. They did a great job.’ Those hold less weight to a customer than if you have personalized, very intentional comments. 
  3. Recency - Reports show that reviews that are older than three months hold very little weight to customers. Eighty-three percent of consumers agree that reviews must be recent and relevant in order to care about them, and it’s usually around that three month mark when they are no longer considered relevant. 

These are also the most important things to help optimize your local SEO. Nobody knows everything that goes into Google’s algorithm, but we do know that quantity, both in the reviews and responses, along with quality and recency are major components. 

Respond. Respond. Respond. 

There should be no customer review without a response from the business. Respond to positive reviews and thank them for choosing you and for taking the time to leave a review. These are happy customers who are likely to come back to your store, so reinforce that good relationship. 

But don’t just respond to the positive reviews. Respond to them all. Ignoring negative comments doesn’t work. Customers will catch on. 

So what do you say in your response? Try to personalize it. Share something specific about the interaction. If your message could apply to every positive review, don’t send it. If it’s a negative review, lead with a desire to resolve the concern. Offer to take the discussion offline and give them a direct phone number to call. Don’t hash it out in the reviews. It’s not a good look. 

And with any review, be responsive. Try to get back to them in the same week. 

Make it easy. Make it simple.

So how do you increase your numbers? Simply start by asking. Most customers are open to leaving reviews. In fact, 41 percent are more compelled to leave a review since COVID-19. Customers are more aware now than ever that businesses will benefit from positive reviews. But don’t stop at just a verbal ask. It’s a good first step, but it shouldn’t be the only one. 

Follow up with the customer after their visit and give them an easy way to do the review. Sending a text message is proven to be the best way, 36 percent  of customers have left a review based on a text request. If it’s not through text, email them with clear information on how to leave a review. The less work the customer has to do to write a review, the better. 

Finally, don’t incentivize reviews. Reviews are a two-way street and customers are already willing to do it. It also may take away the authenticity if customers feel they were being pushed to write a review. 

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