When buying a product or service online, knowing who to trust can be difficult. No business is going to promote a competitor as better or admit to selling an inferior product. That’s why online reviews, on a neutral platform, are essential to buyers. They give consumers genuine information about the experiences of other customers and what they’re likely to encounter when making a purchase. It’s not just about the purchasing stage either, good and bad reviews are often left for the interactions people have encountered with a business. A bad conversation with a rude receptionist or a useful recommendation from a polite and helpful one can be the difference between a negative, one-star review and a positive, five-star review. In fact, 86% of users, looking for a local business, checked the reviews before making a purchase or enquiry. That’s why it’s essential that you build up the number of positive reviews your business is receiving.
Neutral Review Platforms
Not only do you want to receive as many good (and honest) reviews as possible but you also want to do it on a platform you don’t have direct control over. Google, Facebook and Yelp are three of the main review platforms that customers can use. Yes, they have their limitations (anyone can sign up for an account and leave a review) but business owners cannot remove any negative ones they receive without going through an appeals process (for reviews that are genuinely unfair).
The best review platforms, although they only cater for product and seller reviews, are Amazon and eBay. You can only leave a review after buying a product and the seller cannot remove it unless it breaks the terms and conditions of the site. Of course, not every business sells on Amazon or eBay and it doesn’t apply to businesses that provide a service. That’s why Google, Facebook and Yelp are considered the key neutral review platforms. Although anyone can sign up and leave a review, business profiles that receive a sudden influx of positive or negative reviews are reviewed by the platform (users can also flag reviews they believe are spam). These platforms are also the most viewed by potential customers, making them more valuable to businesses.
You can take a look at other review sites such as reviews.co.uk, Trustpilot and Trusted Trader but these are paid for platforms. This gives businesses more control over both their positive and negative reviews and as such may not give the most accurate representation of a business’s reputation.
Reply To Your Reviews
Whether it’s a negative or positive review that you’ve received, it’s important that you reply to it. If someone’s left a good review, don’t forget to say thanks. You may even add a little personalisation to it too. Potential customers can see that you appreciate your current ones and the feedback they have for your business. If you use a generic message to reply such as “Thanks for your review, we’re glad we could help”, it looks like you’ve replied out of obligation rather than being grateful for the review.
Then there’s the negative review. If you’ve done a terrible job, or the comments are justified, simply apologise and state that you always try and provide the best service you can. You should ALWAYS include a contact number or email address they can use to discuss matters further. Why? The aim now is to take the complaint offline, a public argument disputing the review or the services you provide, will only damage your reputation further. If you believe the review to be false you can flag it to the relevant platforms and politely respond stating that you have no records of working with that person. Again, offer a phone number or email address for them to get in touch. You should only do this if you generally believe the review to be false as it shows potential customers that the reviewer may have got the wrong business.
Multiple Review Sites
It’s good having one positive set of reviews, it’s even better to have multiple sets spread across platforms. Google is by far the biggest review platform but within your knowledge graph, it also shows your average rating on other platforms. Your business may have five out of five stars on Google but an average rating of 2.3 on Facebook, 1.6 on Checkatrade and 4.2 on Yelp. When you have a small number of reviews on a platform, it only takes one bad review to drastically affect your average rating on that platform. You may also get that one person who takes things too far. Disgruntled customers may not leave you one review, they may leave you one review on every platform they possibly can. To protect your business against this scenario, it’s worth utilising a combination of the review platforms available.
Reviews are a great way of showcasing how good your business is. Getting genuine customers to provide feedback is great for your business (as long as you do a good job) and for potential customers who are looking to use your services. Remember to reply to all reviews and to encourage customers to share them on multiple platforms.