If you’ve shopped for a product, you’ve likely seen websites provide links to their reviews. Maybe you’ve even left a review before for a website, service, or product.

Reviews help customers determine if an organization is trustworthy or not. Research shows that almost 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as feedback from their own friends. Customer experience is the key to success.

Just like Facebook video marketing, increasing your customer reviews should be included in your company’s marketing strategy. Customer reviews can make or break your business.

The point here is that reviews are important to customers. That means they’re important to companies in return. Companies love positive reviews, and their business depends on them.

If you haven’t been taking your company’s reviews seriously, now is the time to start!

First thing first: provide excellent service 

It seems silly to say, but you can’t expect 5-star reviews if you don’t provide 5-star service. There are many ways to ensure that customers have a pleasant experience.

  • Ensure your products or service are in tip-top shape. You pride yourself on the business you provide. Be sure to check in every now and then to see how you can improve. Low-quality products or tools, that can age naturally over time, can impact the overall performance of your business.
  • Overdeliver on your promises to customers. Who doesn’t love a nice surprise? Providing a better service or product than promised is always a guaranteed win.
  • Ensure you have a good checkout process. 80% of consumers admit a lack of payment options impacts their purchasing decisions. Make sure you accept a variety of payment options since each customer likely has a favorite.
  • Follow up on the sale and ask them how they’re liking their purchase. This could be as simple as sending a handwritten thank you card. It’s the personal touch you make with customers that matters.
  • Stay adaptable and have patience. Sometimes customers’ needs change. Work with your clients to ensure their needs are met.

When it comes to your representatives, a smile can go a long way too.

Once you’re providing good service, you’ll be set to start accepting good reviews. Here are five ways to improve your online reviews.

Focus on one review site 

There are plenty of sites out there that customers can use to leave a review. Consider Facebook, Google, Yelp, or even Trustpilot. Finding one location for your best reviews is essential, and it’s a great place to start the process.

You’ll want to be able to direct your customers to one location to read and write reviews. After all, reviews are a free way to help you gain visibility, promote your trade, and establish trust with others. Customers will leave reviews on as many platforms as they can find. However, when you focus on just one platform, you can better control what is said about your company there.

To determine which site to focus on, read through your current reviews across several platforms. Pick the one that has the best ratio of positive reviews in comparison to negative reviews. Make sure that the platform you choose is a popular one. No one wants to leave a review at a site they’ve never used.

Once you choose a platform, promote it.

Respond to reviews

It doesn’t matter how old a review is or if it’s positive or negative. Start responding to reviews. We can all agree that most reviews are left when a customer is feeling either very happy or very upset. Either way, they want you and everyone else to know how they felt. Validate their feelings by responding. It shows them, and other potential customers, that you care.

When you respond to a review, you open up a line of communication between your company and your customer. It makes your connection feel more authentic.

It doesn’t have to be a very long message. Just a couple words to say thank you. Not sure what to say? Try matching their language, tone, and text length. Copying someone else is a great way to get them to like you more. You might even consider using their name in the review if it’s already public. Try responding to positive reviews first to get a feel of how it works.

Embrace negative reviews 

It happens to the best of us. At some point in time, every company will have a negative review. Take these as an opportunity to right a mistake, or identify opportunities going forward.

Don’t try to convince a customer they’re wrong. That will only make them angry and make you look like the bad guy. Instead, try to reach out to build a better relationship with them. An unhappy customer that’s wowed by your team is likely to turn into a lifelong loyal customer.

Always let reviewers know that you appreciate their feedback because it helps you grow. You could try reaching out to them to see if you can help fix the issue they’re having. It shows you care, and it will be important to the customer. That might include providing a refund, offering a repair, or genuinely apologizing for their negative experience. Who knows? If you’re able to wow them with customer service, they might even go back and change their review to something more positive.

If there’s not a simple fix, then there are still other ways to utilize negative reviews. Maybe there’s nothing you can do today to right the wrong. You can always consider their words going forward when making decisions. Sometimes negative reviews include key pieces of information. You can use these to improve your products or customer experience.

Always ask yourself how you can do better. Learn from negative reviews and grow.

Ask for reviews

As mentioned earlier, customers often only leave reviews if they’ve had a very positive or negative experience. However, you want the customers in between to leave reviews too. The more positive reviews you have, the better your business will look. Don’t be afraid to solicit reviews. When you do, send the customers to the review site you want to promote the most.

Talking with customers in person? Verbally ask them to leave a review on your platform of choice. Have a customer purchased something online? Email them a thank you note, and prompt them to leave a review with a link that directs them to your review platform. You’ll notice that both of these interactions are personal. They ask the customer to share their experience. You want to know about your customer’s experience with your business, don’t you?

There are other ways to direct traffic to your preferred review platform. Highlight some of the best reviews on your website and prompt others to leave a review. Ask your followers on social media to leave a review too. Be sure to provide a link!

Any time you have a customer mention they’re telling their friends or family about your business, that’s a good sign. Use those comments as an opportunity to ask them for a review. Loyal customers want to help the businesses they love.

Keep an eye on your review metrics

Most review platforms display some sort of metrics. They may show the average star rating or even the number of points that the company has received from customers. Those are normally displayed at the top of the profile. Customers will often make a split-second decision based on that number.

A good number provides a great opportunity to display it. You can use that public metric to promote that customers love your business.

If the number is low, it provides an opportunity to ask your most loyal customers for help. You can send a negative review to your most loyal customers and say that someone said this about your business, and then ask for their help by sharing their own experience. If you provide a link to your platform of choice, your loyal customers will help support you. They’ll leave positive reviews, thus improving your overall score.

Customers use reviews to get a better grasp of what they’re stepping into. Successful businesses use reviews as a source of feedback.

There are plenty of ways to grow your business, but reviews provide an affordable solution with big results. Reviews are important to your customers, and in turn, they should be important to your business. Improving your reviews can take time, but the outcome is well worth it!