As a small business owner, your online reputation matters. More than you might think. In fact, research shows that a negative online reputation can cost you customers. But, other studies have shown that a positive reputation can actually help you gain them. That’s because 49% of local consumers are more likely to use a business after they read a positive review about a business online.
So, what can you do to build a glowing reputation that helps you stand out to potential customers online?
Turn to your secret weapon: your happy customers!
Unfortunately, people tend to naturally turn to the Internet to share negative feedback about a company.
You know the saying: a happy customer will tell one person, but an upset customer will tell ten.
When you take the time to ask your happy customers to share their feedback, you might be surprised just how big an impact it can have. Many satisfied customers are glad to share their feedback, they just may not know it’s valuable to you as a business to have their reviews posted online. In fact, you may already receive notes, letters, or comments from happy customers. It may just be a matter of giving customers another avenue to share their feedback.
So, here are three ways you can put this idea into practice inside your business:
1) Get Your Team Onboard and Involved
Take time to explain to your staff that your online reputation is an important area of improvement for your business. Get them involved in the process of reaching out to customers to ask for reviews. It’s important to know and share with your team that you can’t pay for positive reviews, but you can certainly ask people to leave them. And sometimes, all it takes is to ask.
Encourage employees to ask customers for reviews every time they have a great customer interaction and recognize your team for their effort when they do.
2) Create and Share a List of Top Sites
When you start focusing on building your reputation online, select a list of a few top review sites you would like to get more reviews on such as Google Places Pages or Yelp. Then, create signage with these sites prominently displayed to serve as a visual reminder of your request. Post signs in your business reminding customers that you appreciate reviews on these sites. You can also create small cards to share with your customers so they can easily remember and navigate to a site to leave you a review.
This can help you develop your reputation on important sites – an important first step.
3) Leverage Current Communication Channels
Another way to encourage customers to leave a review of your business is to use your current customer communication channels to share your request. For example, you could put an article in your monthly customer email newsletter, or post a message to your Facebook fans. The benefit of this is that your customer is probably already at a computer when they see your request. Think about how you currently communicate with your customers and find ways to include this message in a friendly, professional way from time to time.<
These are just three ideas for how you can leverage your secret weapon – your current customers – in building a great online reputation.
Do you currently let your customers know you appreciate reviews online? Have you tried any of these tips? Feel free to share your ideas and thoughts in a comment.
Secret Photo via Shutterstock
Everyone knows that word of mouth is one of the best sources of new customers, but if you can get your best customers to spread the word online you can multiply the effects. Great post.
Robert – Thanks! Appreciate the feedback. I think this can be a really powerful approach for small businesses who want to build their reputation online. I’ve seen many a small business really apply these tactics and focus on letting customers know they appreciate reviews successfully.
Great article Tiffany, I couldn’t agree more that getting genuine reviews from your customers can be a powerful way to build trust and improve your online reputation.
I’ve read studies that show that negative reviews can increase website conversion rates as they make the other reviews more believable (something that Amazon knows too well). It probably goes without saying that the negative reviews need to be outweighed by positive ones, but businesses shouldn’t be afraid of being open and transparent about the reviews that they receive.
David – Interesting, thanks for sharing. That does make sense! Authenticity isn’t something we assume on the web, and reviews is one area where it’s definitely important.
I have to agree with you about happy customers as they make the best brand advocates around. But what about those negative experiences that you resolved quickly, turning an irate customer into a happy-er one? I think, this type of ‘happier’ customer gets to share the goodwill much faster than your average ‘happy’ customers, and they will gladly do a review without you having to remind them/send them notes about writing one. Just a thought..
Aaron, you bring up a really important point here, and that’s the fact that your business itself is a critical part of your online reputation. So having a great customer service approach and working with customers to resolve issues has to be important to your business if you want your reputation to reflect happy customers. I’ve definitely seen examples like you mention, where reviews reflect the whole process a customer went through to work with a business to resolve a situation. Great comment, thanks for sharing your insights!
Satisfied customers are such an asset to any company, and can help facilitate the ripple effect of even more happy customers. Great article!
I am getting to the point I don’t even look at online reviews anymore. Half of them are fake.. Just to prove a point I am the proud owner of a fake yelp account myself.
Great post! I agree with your approach, however we’ve seen that reviews left on search engines hold limited value, since people don’t necessarily trust that the reviews are real, whereas on Facebook, people trust their friends and reviews are more meaningful.
We’ve actually just launched a business application for Facebook called Good Peeple that uses the power of your customer’s social networks to share their reviews of your business with their friends, generating referrals automatically. Check it out at http://www.goodpeeple.com
Here’s my idea: I would take a quote from customer’s good review and turn it into a picture, then save that picture to a Facebook album called “Raves”. Tag the customer’s name in the description and on the picture, and it will show up on their Wall.
What do you think?
It is great to see someone break down the mechanics of on-line reputation management like this. The point that I found the most striking is the fact that disgruntled customers will usually leverage the Internet, or social media, to express their opinions, regardless of how they feel. Since it is nearly impossible to control how your are spoken about on-line, perhaps providing your customers (disgruntled or not) with a direct form of on-line feedback that is not regulated to just your twitter account.
It may be a long shot, but one company I know of that does this kinda thing is SQM. A close colleague used them for his business and they were able to create a channel of significant on-line feedback that was both private and responsive to his customers needs. Perhaps it may work for others?