Think of a customer that is in need of a service that your business can provide. In searching for a provider, what’s the first thing this customer will do?

They’ll most likely start with a search engine.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 77 percent of online health seekers start at search engines. So, if you have a website that’s optimized for local search, there’s a good chance this customer will find you.

Now, let’s say this customer finds and visits your website. How will they decide to give your business a call? Sure, they’ll probably read through some of your website content, but they will almost certainly—before picking up the phone—look for customer reviews.

According to a 2015 Bright Local Survey, 92 percent of all consumers read online reviews for local businesses. And, 68 percent said that positive reviews make them trust local businesses more, while only 13 percent would consider a business with a low rating.

The implication is that positive online reviews can be one of the most cost-effective ways to increase new customer calls, while negative reviews, or even a lack of reviews, will drive your customers straight to your 5-star competition.

So how can you ensure that your prospective customers can easily find your positive online reviews?

Here are our six best practices.

1. Improve the customer experience

Satisfied customers are your only source of (legitimate) positive reviews. If your customers are not satisfied, they won’t hesitate to tell everyone they know about their negative experience.

Your review strategy must start with an assessment of the entire customer experience, from start to finish, so that you can find ways to improve.

Ask your customers for feedback—what they liked, what they didn’t—and find ways to adjust. If you discover, for example, that long wait times are consistently mentioned, find ways to reduce the wait times.

2. Create multiple review profiles

Create profiles for your business on multiple review sites like Yelp, Google, Yellow Pages, and Facebook. Your customers will probably have a preference for or a familiarity with one particular site.

Then, bring all of your reviews together in one spot on your website. That way, when prospective customers navigate to your review page, they’ll see the aggregate of all of your reviews from the various review sites.

Learn more about how Online Review Builder can make this process automatic.

3. Ask for reviews consistently

Make a habit out of asking for reviews, but make sure you approach the topic in a tactful way. Never ask for positive reviews, or in any way create the impression that your objective is to make the business look better.

Instead, tell your customers that you value all honest feedback so that you can improve the customer experience. Invite them to connect with your business on Facebook or through your website. If they accept—and they’re satisfied with their care—they’ll probably appreciate the opportunity to leave a review.

4. Make it easy for customers to leave reviews

Most of your customers will not jump through hoops to leave you a positive review. The easier you make it, the more reviews you’ll get.

You can make it easy for your customers by creating a single review page on your website with simple steps to post a review.

Online Review Builder, for example, allows the customer to navigate directly to the review page on your website, select the star rating, and post to the review site of their choice. No complex instructions are required and reviews can be posted in only a few clicks.

5. Turn negative reviews into positive reviews

Negative reviews happen—you can’t please every customer all of the time. However, negative reviews can actually be beneficial for two reasons:

  • A few negative reviews in the presence of many positive reviews can give the positive reviews more credibility, and
  • Negative reviews provide an opportunity to rectify a situation and possibly improve your business.

Remember, negative reviews can usually be changed by the reviewer, but can almost never be changed or deleted by you. If you attempt to resolve the issue, you could get the reviewer to change the review. If you become defensive, on the other hand, the review will likely stand and no one wins.

6. Bury negative reviews with an overwhelming number of positive reviews

Which business would you prefer, all else equal?

Business A: average rating of 4 stars, has only five 4-star reviews
Business B: average rating of 4 stars, comprised of fifty 4-star reviews, ten 5-star reviews, and three 2-star reviews.

Most, I think, would prefer business B, despite the three negative reviews. The overwhelming number of positive reviews decreases the relevance of the negative reviews. So, while you may not be able to prevent any negative reviews, you can bury them in a stockpile of positive reviews by consistently asking your satisfied customers for feedback.

Want to make the review process as easy for your customers as possible? Talk to us about Online Review Builder today.