Star Envy: 5 Tips to Increase Your Positive Online Reviews

Struggling to get your business within the top spots on Yelp or TripAdvisor?

Success in this area requires a multi-pronged approach, not the least of which involves providing amazing customer service and having a stellar product to boot.

Yet getting customers to relish in your product and services enough to leave you a raving online review is only half the battle.

You will always have the occasional detractor who blasts you online.

Related Article: 7 Surprising Ways Online Reviews Have Transformed the Path to Purchase

While certain industries like hotels, restaurants and spas are arguably more affected by negative online reviews, the truth is that all industries feel the burn of a poor online reputation. A survey from 2013 reveals that 80 percent of U.S. consumers reversed a purchase decision based on reading negative online reviews. Small and medium-sized businesses, in particular, can be made—or broken—by the quality of their online reviews.

Read below for five tips to bump up your positive online reviews while minimizing the frequency and impact of negative ones.

1. Offer an Incentive to All Customers Who Review You

Even your biggest fans may be unlikely to review your business if it means taking time out of their busy schedules. Yet sometimes all the motivation they need is the possibility of receiving a small gift in return, like a coupon, discount or membership.

“That’s the oldest hack in the book, but that’s because it works really well,” says customer service expert Lincoln Murphy. “Just make sure you’re working within the rules of the online review site, as many don’t allow you to incentivize positive reviews.”

A way around this is to offer a giveaway once a month to a random customer who leaves a review, regardless of its nature. Or if you prefer, give all reviewers a small token of your appreciation.

2. Reward Employees Who Gather Reviews

Make it part of your work culture for customer service and sales employees to solicit reviews from customers. Consider implementing an incentive program where employees receive a cash bonus for any reviews gathered. Positive reviews can help boost your bottom line rather significantly. A study published by Harvard University in 2011 reveals that a one-star increase on Yelp can lead to a 5-9 percent growth in revenue.

3. Let Unhappy Customers Vent Before Leaving Your Business

Identify who your unhappy customers are with a feedback survey administered immediately after the customer’s point of sale. Ask the dissatisfied customer if a manager can follow up with them to address the issue. The key is to react immediately to their frustration, before they think to knock you with an online review.

Take action by telling the customer what you changed or did to address the issue, then offer them an incentive to come back. When they come back, ask for feedback, and given a positive response, direct them to a review site.

Keep in mind, successful businesses don’t care about negative reviews simply because of their costly nature. Those businesses consider unfavourable reviews an opportunity to improve.

“If you need to quantify the impact of negative reviews before you take them seriously, you’re doing it wrong,” explains Murphy.

4. Simply Talk to Your Customers

This may sound so obvious that it’s not worth mentioning, but you’d be surprised how many businesses don’t do this. During every customer interaction, ask your brand enthusiasts to leave a review on a site of their choosing such as Twitter, Facebook, Yelp or TripAdvisor. Ask for permission to send them an email reminder with a link to each of those sites.

Related Article: Easy Ways to Get Happy Customer to Write Online Reviews

5. Dominate Your Social Media Conversations

Take a negative comment on Twitter and Facebook and turn it into a positive one. Whether you choose to respond publicly to an unhappy customer and then take the conversation private, or always respond privately, is your choice. But the most important thing to remember is that once the issue is resolved, ask the customer to edit the original comment.

“Social media gives the appearance of reacting fast enough to customer issues that it seems like you’re being proactive,” says Murphy.

Use social media to build brand evangelists you can rely on to defend you when others detract you online. If someone defends or compliments you, ask them to leave a formal review.

And don’t forget to publicly reward and single out those customers who have participated in your customer referral programs. Tell them how much you appreciate them and provide an incentive (discount, gift etc.) for other customers to participate.

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