Customer Reviews increasingly play an important role in our purchasing decisions.

Reviews written on local listing sites associated with the NAP of a business location can influence its local organic search performance.   They not only raise the profile of the location within the listing site itself, they can provide key-word references for search engines.  Importantly, they are permanent!

Colourful reviews which describe in detail the customer experience are more engaging and more influential.  Think of reviews as mini blogs written by your customers.

Fundamentally, reviews are written by customers that are either happy or unhappy with your service.  You need to focus on delivering the good service and encourage them to write reviews. No amount of SEO activity can can fix bad reviews.

Bad reviews can be good reviews!

Prospective customers will read reviews and make a reasoned decision about whether to proceed to purchase.  People read the bad reviews.  The odd bad review amongst predominantly good reviews is unlikely to put them off, however, if the review is recent, detailed, scathing and appears genuine, then it can affect their decision.  We’ve seen examples of very unhappy customers going out of their way to write long bad reviews on several different listing sites, just to make sure that everyone got to read about their poor experience.

However, and ironically, the way you handle a negative review as a business can positively influence customer decisions.  As the business owner, you can respond to the review via the listing site.  If you handle a bad review in a constructive and professional way, not only could you win back the aggrieved customer, but also win new ones!

If you can resolve the customer’s issue to their satisfaction, many will go back and adjust the review to reflect this.

A trade customer of ours said that a negative review led to more business as people were impressed by the way that he had handled it.

The lesson is, listen to your customers and respond to the negative reviews!  (Responding to every positive review is too much and unnecessary)

A few do’s and don’ts for managing customer reviews on local listings:

Do:         

  • Encourage customers to write reviews in Google + Local and the listing sites.
  • Provide printed guidelines or prompts to remind customers to write a review, where to go and what to do.
  • Get into the habit of asking for reviews (ideally you want a steady stream of reviews rather than a surge and then nothing).
  • Monitor the reviews and respond to them; it shows that you care. Reviews can also provide valuable feedback and insights into what customers think about your business.
  • Think of reviews as a positive force. You can’t stop people writing about you, so go with it and use them to your advantage.
  • Get staff involved in understanding their value and how to encourage customers to write them.

Don’t:

  • Ask customers to write reviews in store – or on the same device. Multiple reviews written on the same IP address will be penalised.
  • Absolutely do not write your own reviews.
  • Pay for, or reward customers to write reviews.