Written by: Lucy Benton, Marketing Specialist and Business Consultant

If you’re planning to go to a restaurant for the first time or hire a contractor, chances are you’re going to check online reviews of these businesses first.

Reviews help you figure out whether a business should be trusted or not. Moreover, you’ll be more confident about your decision when you know that other people have had a positive experience.

Research shows that 91 percent of people read online reviews before contacting a business, and 84 percent trust them as much as personal recommendations. In short, online reviews are a big deal nowadays.

For you as a business owner, online reviews represent a great opportunity to promote your business in a legitimate way. Here’s how to make them work for you.

Ask Customers for Reviews

After a customer makes a purchase, ask them for a review or testimonial. For example, you could use a simple form on your website to collect ratings or ask them to write a couple of sentences about the overall experience.

You could also email them a customer satisfaction survey or provide links to your business’ pages on online review sites or social media. But don’t offer anything in return because that would be unethical.

Here are a couple of things to remember when asking customers for reviews:

  • The quality. In order for reviews to be effective, they should not consist of stars only. These reviews don’t paint enough of a picture of your product/service, its advantages and disadvantages, how it compares to other brands, etc. You need to provide customers with an opportunity to share their experience in words as well.
  • The quantity. According to the aforementioned study, 85 percent of online consumers need to read up to 10 positive reviews before they feel that they can trust that business. For seven percent of consumers, 10 is not enough. These individuals read 20 reviews or more.

In other words, the more positive online reviews your business has, the better. Given that customers tend to believe businesses and products with a lot of reviews, you should always try to generate more reviews. Here’s how to do it:

  • provide a product or service worth talking about
  • constantly ask for feedback on product pages, via an app, on social media, customer satisfaction survey, or via email.
  • try to make reviewing your business easy by providing multiple options to offer feedback (e.g. Google review, Facebook, Yelp, etc.)

Provide a Quick Response to Every Review

When you respond promptly, you show that you care about the experience of your customers. This applies both to positive and negative reviews. For example, if a customer leaves a negative review on your social media page, publicly ask about what happened and how you can rectify the problem.

Additionally, other potential customers will see that you care about existing customers will perceive your business in a more positive way. Specifically, they will note that you tried to resolve the issue no matter how significant it was. This will build trust and help your business to stand out from the crowd.

Check out how The Rome Restaurant does this brilliantly. Here’s their response to a good review on their Facebook page.

And here’s how the same restaurant replies to a negative review:

The restaurant managers did a great job responding to both reviews. They wrote respectful and thoughtful answers that demonstrated that the restaurant truly cares about the customers. Anyone reading these answers will see that the management tries to make every experience positive and learn from every customer.

Here are some tools to help you get the most out of your online reviews.

  • Pozzative. This app sends your customers a text message with a link to collect feedback after they leave your business. Every message is customized and encourages receivers to leave reviews.
  • Go Fish Digital Complaint Search. This tool allows you to search Google for negative reviews on over 40 websites at once so you can develop a holistic picture of your business’s reputation

In Conclusion

To turn online reviews into powerful PR tools, you have to put in some work. Use them strategically and you can turn your customers into powerful brand advocates.

About Lucy
Lucy Benton is a specialist in digital marketing and content writer who currently works at Writing Papers. She focuses mostly on the worlds of technology, gadgets and the Internet. If you’re interested in working with Lucy, you can find her on Twitter.

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