Posted By: Kyle Fagala
Receiving online reviews can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially for smaller businesses. These assessments often have a significant influence on potential clients when they’re posted online, so it’s certainly understandable if they make you nervous. You may be tempted to ignore them or avoid an online presence altogether just so you don’t have to deal with reviews, but these evaluations can actually be a great opportunity for engaging with clients and growing your brand!
Why? Because all forms of feedback are a gift to business owners. It gives you the chance to see your brand from the client’s perspective, engage with them on a more meaningful level, and strive to continuously improve their overall experience with you. This is exactly what leads to repeat business, referrals, and glowing reviews! Consider that in the context of these statistics:
- 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
- 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 85% of consumers are only satisfied once they have read up to 10 online reviews for a local business
With so much at stake, it doesn’t make sense to just wait around for positive reviews to happen. You should be actively encouraging them! So how can you drive more positive reviews and referrals for your brand? The first step might also be the hardest: you have to look at what’s already there!
Browse popular review sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook to see what people have been saying about your business recently. If you haven’t already been keeping track of your reviews, now is the perfect time to begin interacting with them. Is your business unlisted or posted with an incomplete profile? If so, take some time to set this up. It will help potential clients find you more easily, provide them with important information from peers, and boost your presence in search engine results!
With those basics out of the way, you’ll be free to focus on your ongoing customer engagement. Make it a habit to ask for feedback frequently and encourage your clients to leave online reviews about your services and products. Work with your team to prioritize exceptional experiences for your clients—when someone is “wowed,” they’re much more likely to spread the word, both in-person and online, and will often do so without prompting.
How to handle negative reviews
Now for the negative—what do you do with reviews that are less than flattering? This happens to almost every business at one time or another, so don’t let it get to you too much. That doesn’t mean you should ignore it, however! Look at this as an opportunity to improve what you do and how you do it. Respond to the review by thanking the client for taking the time to write it and address any areas of concern. Then take the conversation offline by inviting them to contact your office so you can do your best to make things right.
Once the situation has been diffused, ask the client to post an updated review or add a note to their original post sharing how the issue was resolved. This will allow interested parties to see that you are open to engaging in constructive dialogue and committed to improving every client’s experience with your business. If you have a client who simply refuses to be satisfied no matter what you do, that’s okay, too! Remember that if you’re cultivating positive online reviews regularly, they’ll always tend to balance out the occasional negative ones.
If you’re looking to build up a base of glowing testimonials, it can be tempting to incentivize them by offering clients or employees something in return for submitting a positive review. We’ve got three words for you: don’t do it! Most online review sites have safeguards in place to prevent fake or disingenuous reviews from going live, but aside from that, it’s a dishonest practice that can put your business’s reputation at risk.
We’ve put a lot of emphasis on reviews here, but referrals can be just as powerful and are a vital source of new clients. It can sometimes feel a little intimidating to ask for referrals since they go a step beyond online reviews and require the client to “introduce” you to their family, friends, and coworkers. But when a client has had a great experience with your business, they’re often happy to help spread the word to those around them!
It’s important to be specific when you’re asking for a referral. For example, if you’re an orthodontist, you could ask the satisfied mother of a young patient to recommend your services to any friends with children around the same age. If you’re a dentist who offers cosmetic treatments, ask patients who leave you a positive review to refer your practice to coworkers looking to improve their smile. If you’re not quite ready to be so direct, you can also take a more subtle route. Place referral cards at your front desk or include a line in your email signature inviting the recipient to send potential clients your way!
Word of mouth is critical to sustaining and growing a small business, whether it happens through in-person referrals or online reviews. Focusing on cultivating both will help you attract clients who more closely align with the goals and vision you have for your brand. Not sure where to begin? Neon Canvas can help! We’ll be happy to work with you to brainstorm the most effective methods for encouraging reviews and referrals from your clients. As always, we appreciate your trust in us and are excited to see your business continue to grow in the coming months!
Kyle Fagala, DDS, MDS
Co-Founder, Neon Canvas