In the age of internet search and e-commerce, customer reviews are the virtual word of mouth that could make or break your business. Not only do they provide you with valuable insight into the performance of your business, but reviews give potential customers proof of how you will treat them.

In fact, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, and online reviews impact more than 67% of buying decisions. Online reviews are a highly trusted source of information, with 85% of people trusting them as much as a personal recommendation from a friend or family member. Imagine that—a five-star rating of your product or service from a random internet stranger is as influential to potential customers than a personal endorsement from their mom.

Why Your Business Needs Good Reviews

Let’s dig deeper. Less-than-ideal reviews can harm a business’ performance, discouraging consumers from engaging with your business. Did you know that businesses with two negatives on the first page of search results risk losing 44% of their customers? Throw in another negative to the search query, and that potential for lost customers increases to more than 59%.

On the other hand, positive reviews are immensely beneficial to your business and bottom line. Favorable reviews foster trust in your business—74% of consumers say that positive customer reviews make them trust a local business more. And more than 63% of consumers trust businesses with overall ratings of 4 or 4.5 out of 5 stars, while 87% of consumers said they wouldn’t visit a business with less than 3 stars.

Because more than 57% of consumers will eventually buy from a business they researched online, you want the reviews that potential customers find about your business to be positive and encouraging endorsements.

Features of a Five-star Review

So what does a good review actually look like? What are the components of the type of positive reviews you want your business to receive?

The content and frequency of online reviews are likely going to vary by industry and review site, but good reviews—the glowing ones you want doing the advertising legwork on behalf of your business—have a few key characteristics in common.

Detailed and Specific

97% of consumers read online reviews before making a buying decision, so you want your reviews to provide the information consumers need to engage with and buy from your business. The vague “It was good, the end” reviews don’t offer online searchers much in the way of helpful information to guide their buying and visiting decisions. Plus, it doesn’t give your business the valuable constructive feedback it needs to help you improve or accurately gauge the performance of your business.

Mentions Specific Employees by Name

Who was it that helped your customer? A good review identifies members of your business team by name. Not only does it motivate your employees to continue performing well, but it gives your business the confidence-building benefit of a humanizing touch. Consumers (and ideally, those future customers) want to know that real, helpful people—not just unfeeling machines—will be attending to their needs.

Identifies Strong Customer Service Principles

There’s likely not much more important to customers than interactions with businesses that involve gold-star customer service. In fact, U.S. companies lose more than $75 billion annually due to poor customer service. Whether reviewers realize they’re doing it or not, you want them to highlight a positive customer experience and the specific and brand-distinguishing ways that your business goes the extra mile to make customers happy. This will prompt other searching consumers to bring their dollars to you.

On the other hand, poor customer service will prompt customers to leave negative reviews—Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, versus the 11 people they’ll tell about a good experience. It will also influence to take their business elsewhere—33% of Americans say they’ll consider switching companies after just a single instance of poor service. Not ideal.

Has a Response

Businesses, this is (one of the ways) where you come in. Customers expect you to respond to their reviews. In fact, 30% of consumers identify that a business’ response to reviews is key when judging local businesses. In fact, 89% of consumers read a company’s response to reviews, and 7 in 10 have said that a business’ response to a review has changed their opinion about that business.

But still, the majority of consumers say that a business has never responded to their review. If you’re not already monitoring your reviews with online tools, now is the time to start. It’s a key part of inviting more positive reviews and proactively managing your online reputation.

Features User-Generated Content

Positive photos of customers using your product or service or displaying it in real-life situations demonstrates an extra level of effort that not only proves their loyalty to your business, but it allows other consumers to see your goods in action, which can help them make informed shopping decisions.

How to Get Good Reviews of Your Business

So you’re not going to buy reviews (read why that’s a big mistake), so how do you actually get consumers to positively review your business? Work to implement these five tried-and-true tactics.

1. Solicit Them

It’s basic, but you can’t expect something you don’t ask for. More often than not, happy customers are willing to share their good experiences with a review. In fact, a reported 68% of consumers left a local business a review when asked. So ask! Follow up with customers after a purchase, thanking them for their business and kindly inviting them to share their experiences with your product or service. If you’re making the greatest efforts to produce a good product and satisfy your customers, then you will be rewarded with positive reviews.

2. Consider the Ask

In addition to simply doing the asking, consider your approach to soliciting reviews. Vague questions will likely warrant vague answers, so make sure to customize your feedback forms with specific questions or prompts to get valuable insight into your business, and other online searchers. Your method of soliciting feedback could mean the difference for the growth of your business. For example, instead of simply asking, “What did you think of our product?” you might ask, “How did our product meet your particular need or want?”

3. Engage with Customers

As we mentioned, the best reviews feature engagement from your business, responding to their comments, questions, and concerns. It’s not just good business—it invites more engagement and growth.  41% of consumers say that business’ review responses make them believe the company really cares about their customers, so get interactive.

But don’t just be satisfied responding to reviews after a purchase is made; work to engage with customers (and potential customers) at each different phase of their customer journey, so they know that your business really cares.

4. Concern Yourself With Customer Service

We already emphasized that good reviews typically identify strong customer service principles that your business demonstrates, so to warrant these gold-star reviews, you need to make top-notch customer service an elemental part of your business. By providing an above-and-beyond customer service experience, you’re setting yourself up for the ultimate ROI—good reviews and more business.

5. Go the Extra Mile

Consider this the all-encompassing principle of how to invite good reviews for your business. In whatever field or industry your business operates, seek to distinguish your brand by not only meeting but exceeding customer expectations. The more you can do to stand out from your competitors, the more your customers will be motivated to spread the (virtual) good word.

Podium improves your online reputation by helping you collect more reviews. But it’s more than just reviews.

With Webchat, your customers can start a text conversation with you directly from your website. So while they get the convenience of texting your business, you get to keep the conversation going from your centralized Podium inbox without being tied to a desk or a device. Great reviews might help customers find you, but a seamless customer journey will keep them coming back.

For your business to grow, it needs good reviews. That much is clear. But don’t leave your ratings—or your online reputation—to chance. Knowing what makes a good customer review, you can now do your part to increase the chances that happy customers will flood your business with positive reviews and their virtual seal of approval.

Matt Boyce
Matt Boyce Head of SMB Marketing

Matt Boyce is a marketing and business professional at Podium, the premiere messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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