Did you know that 85% of consumers think online reviews more than three months old are irrelevant? Now ask yourself - how regularly does my business receive reviews online? If the answer is “not often enough”, that’s a massive portion of the market you could be turning off your business with out of date reviews.
In fact, if you’re not regularly encouraging reviews you could be leaving yourself open to attacks from underhanded competitors who stoop to buying positive reviews for themselves and negative reviews for your business.
One extreme example of such behaviour is The Shed, in London. This small, boutique restaurant went from the bottom of Tripadvisor’s charts, all the way to the top in a matter of weeks, and managed to hold on to the top spot for a fortnight. The trouble is, The Shed didn’t exist. Journalist Oobah Butler had fabricated the restaurant to prove the shortcomings of online reviews. And he succeeded.
That’s not to say that online reviews don’t have a place in your marketing mix. In fact, they are a vitally important tool. 97% of people research purchasing decisions by looking at business reviews online. And, the best way to make your business resistant to such attacks is to have a strong online reputation to begin with.
So how can you go about galvanising and growing your business’s online reputation?
Make It Easy
Tell your customers where they can review you online in a way that’s easy for them to do. At a cafe it could be a table talker encouraging customers to post a review while they enjoy a quick coffee break, while in retail it could be point of sale material at the checkout, on receipts, or in a follow up email if they are loyalty programme customers.
If you’re already collecting customer feedback it can be as simple as a thank you screen that encourages customers to share the review they just submitted for your business on a platform like Google reviews.
Ditch The Fear
Understandably, some businesses are wary of less than glowing reviews. But if you’re confident in your offering then there’s no reason to fear online reviews.
Feedback platforms like Customer Radar also offer a safety net to businesses. By seeking feedback on a private platform, customers can raise their issues without resorting to public shaming. Nobody really wants to call out a business on a public platform, but all too often customers are forced to use this last resort by businesses who don’t make it easy to give feedback.
Make Sure You Monitor
If online reviews are the primary way your business gathers customer feedback then, inevitably, the occasional review from a dissatisfied customer will pop up. The key is to monitor and respond. Acknowledge the issue, apologise, take responsibility, and provide a remedy. Don’t go viral with a hotheaded response. 97% of customers who read online reviews also read business responses, and over half of people who leave a negative review expect business to respond within a week.
The reality is, your most recent customers are the ones that can provide reliable, trustworthy reviews for your business and help you protect your online reputation in the event of an attack - all you have to do is ask them.