It has become especially easier for businesses to be visible online and engage with potential customers since star ratings and reviews in Google My Business profiles are shown right away on the search engine results page.
These reviews serve as introductions and provide social proof representing genuine user experiences, letting people know which businesses to trust. According to a study by Bright Local, users read a minimum of ten reviews before feeling confident in deciding.
Maintaining a positive reputation is tantamount to responding to these reviews wisely, as consumers generally read businesses’ responses to customer reviews and highly value them. Thus, it is becoming more relevant to manage Google reviews as they now play a bigger role in defining user behavior towards businesses. Keeping Google reviews in your favor, however, is a double-edged sword. What positive reviews can boost for your online credibility, negative ones can easily take back.
Why Google reviews matter
As reviews are important for people in making their decisions for online transactions, they also increase the chances of site traffic and clicks for your website. A high star rating on Google results to a good click-through rate.
Moreover, reviews are the third most important factor that Google considers in its search engine optimization (SEO) algorithm. This can therefore vastly affect your website’s ranking in relevant searches as well as its online prominence and visibility.
Google reviews are an example of social proof that entices individual prospects into your business according to the quality of reviews of their fellow customers.
Getting more reviews
Google reviews are hard to come by naturally. Often, they might find it unnecessary to give feedbacks especially if they are contented with your services. Fortunately, most of them would likely leave a review if you just ask them. The key here is to target customers who have finished a smooth and satisfactory transaction with you, and request their feedback.
Normally, another reason why they would not leave a rating is that it takes effort or they lack the technical knowledge for it. Sometimes, you have to point out where they should go and what they should do. You can do this by sending them through email or private chat a short Google review URL through which they can write their feedbacks in no time. Automated third-party prompts are also a good idea in increasing the number of reviews. Emphasize that it’s easy and it only takes a couple of minutes to leave a review.
If you feel like a customer in your store is satisfied with your services, don’t hesitate to personally ask them to consider leaving a Google review for your business.
Responding to negative reviews
No business is perfect. Sometimes, you can fail to meet the expectations of some of your valuable customers. Disgruntled customers expressing their sentiments in the reviews can be detrimental for your business, but their feedbacks are just as necessary to improve your business’ customer services. Below are some techniques in turning negative feedback into opportunities:
- Assess the situation and investigate the reasons behind the feedback. Before replying to negative feedback, it is essential to internalize first to avoid an emotional or unprofessional response. You can check within your records the experience of your reviewer with your business to try and analyze what went wrong.
- Be honest and transparent about mistakes. Publicly responding to your bad reviews shows accountability on your part, giving your customers the feeling that they are heard. For instance, a study by Cornell University reports that responding to negative hotel feedback “appears positively related to the consumer’s view of the hotel”. If necessary, you should also consider apologizing to the dissatisfied customer to show empathy and compassion.
- Sign your name. Aside from transparency and accountability for mistakes, don’t be afraid to show your customers that they are talking to an authentic person when they are expressing their grievances. This way, you can show them how genuinely you value their constructive feedback. Besides, customers tend to be nicer when working with a human agent.
- Offer solutions to problems. For some customers that might just be having problems with the technical workings of your business, it’s always best to provide quick actionable solutions to their concerns. Successfully and promptly addressing customers’ concerns can turn those bad reviews into a good customer experience.
- Be knowledgeable about Google’s content policies. To manage Google reviews appropriately, you must also learn about the content Google considers inappropriate such as off-topic, spam, and fake comments, as well as those that display offensive content. If you think a review goes too far or describes your company in a false light, don’t hesitate to report the review to Google (but only if it qualifies as inappropriate content). Actively filtering your reviews this way can also give a good professional impression on your customers.
Appreciating and maximizing positive feedbacks
Good reviews are opportunities for your business to build a more intimate connection with your customers. It is imperative in this case to show genuine gratitude and appreciation for the positive feedback.
Responding quickly to reviews also shows how invested you are in hearing their feedback. Quick replies can also initiate conversations to obtain more feedback about your customers’ notable experiences, favorite features, and rooms for improvement.
Positive reviews can also be a further investment and opportunity. When responding to a positive review, you can try to invite the customer to share their review with others. For instance, you can ask if they are willing to share a story of their experience with your business on your social media page.
In the end, learning how to manage Google reviews is an art. It is difficult sometimes to maintain, but it is a great investment for your business’ growth. It is an open window into which you can engage with the people you serve, and consistently improve based on their ever-changing needs and wants. While it is mainly about keeping your online reputation under control, it will also be of great benefit for your business to take notes along the way.