Do online reviews “scare” you? Think again…
March 27, 2017 by Maria Ford
Many business owners are beginning to come to terms with the power of online reviews. Suddenly, businesses and leaders whose views on social-media-for-business once ranged from “ignorance is bliss” to “I can’t be bothered” and “it’s just a fad” are sitting up and paying attention.
One business owner I was chatting with noted that, in the past, new clients walked in his door because of referrals from friends. While that still happens, he said that almost as often now, individuals wander in with smartphones in hand – they were in the area, did a web search for nearby businesses, and chose the one with the best reviews.
“It scares me,” he said.
I found his response very unexpected. “Why does it scare you?” I asked.
Turns out that he’s thankful for the good online reviews – but just as worried about the potential for bad reviews. He works hard to make every customer happy – including those who are dissatisfied. But one hot-headed client posting an online rant could bring his review rating down. In short, he’s frightened by the sheer power of this medium over which he feels he has no control.
“You should be excited,” I countered. The look on his face told me he couldn’t imagine my point of view. So I elaborated.
“Social media gives you access to incredibly insightful information that you never used to have,” I said. “Those conversations have always been going on. People are telling each other about and comparing their service providers and products all the time – at the water cooler, over lunch, in clubs. You have no access to those conversations. But social media gives you insight into what used to be private conversations. And it even allows you to interject! You can personally and immediately respond [there’s a method for doing this which I won’t go into here]. I think that’s pretty powerful.”
I gave him one other point to consider.
“Those people who are walking in with smart phones in hand, and those clients who are posting online reviews – they’re social-media savvy. They know more about it than you do. They can separate the wheat from the chaff of online reviews. The best thing you can do is to learn at least as much as they know, and engage with them where they are at. Which, as you’ve discovered, is online!”
So go ahead and ask your customers for online reviews. GIVE them the links to your Facebook Company Page, your Google MyBusiness listing, your RateMe page. Time it well. When they’ve had a good experience and you know it, ask them immediately while it’s fresh in their minds. If they’ve had a poor experience, fix it, and ask for a review when you’re satisfied that they’re happy. And above all else, stay on top of it. Monitor the reviews and respond when necessary.
In my view, the only thing that should be frightening about online reviews of your business is being ignorant – because it makes you unable learn from them, act upon them, and be in control.