STEP 1: CLAIM YOUR BUSINESS
First things first – you need to make sure you claim your Google My Business Profile and get it verified. This requires you to confirm your business location with Google and should be updated whenever you change locations, phone numbers or web addresses. Taking this important first step allows for better analysis, monitoring and the ability to respond to reviews. Google advises that you provide as much information as possible, make it easy for users to contact you, regularly update and improve your profile and take advantage of category-specific features.
STEP 2: ASK FOR REVIEWS
If you are looking to up your overall rating or volume of reviews, it might just be a matter of asking! Create a campaign to solicit happy clients to provide reviews. The best time to get a review is as you are closing the project. This can be done within your sales team or customer service department.
Your campaign can include a multi-pronged approach that includes some of the following:
- Ask with every email you send! Add a link to your signature line to promote it. It might read something like, “Did you have a great experience? A Google review is the best compliment!”
- Launch a post-service email campaign! Create a follow-up email post-service campaign that is automatically sent after a purchase or service is completed.
Pro-tip: Include two separate links. One link: if you loved us, go to Google Reviews. The second link, if you had a subpar experience, send us an email reply with all the details.
- Solicit happy employees to provide reviews. Great reviews can come from anyone. Employees can be encouraged to provide reviews. They don’t even need to comment, though it reflects better. Employees can comment on how training supports customer service, processes are above industry average or benefits related to the vision of the company, etc.
STEP 3: MONITOR & MANAGE
Your Google Review presence is not a “set it and forget it” play. It should be consistently monitored and analyzed. This is a channel that can provide insights into what you and your team is doing well (or not well). It is also often the reason your new customers choose you. The importance and impact of your online review profile can’t be understated. Whether it is your marketing lead or your customer service team, be sure to appoint a point person to help key an eye on the reviews that come through.
Here are some things to look for as you monitor your Google Reviews:
- Trends – both positive and negative can show things your customers are happy about or areas where you need to improve.
- Complaints – While you don’t want to get into a back-and-forth with a negative reviewer, you also don’t want to ignore it. Grab these tips on how to reply to negative reviewers:
- Communicate with the reviewer once online and then move them to email as soon as possible.
- Try to rectify the problem and ask them to remove the review.
- Sample responses might include:
- “We’re sorry to hear that you are less than happy. We would like the opportunity to investigate your feedback further. Would you please contact me at [Email Address] or call our team at [Phone Number]? We’ll work with you to resolve any issues as quickly as possible.”
- “Thank you for letting us know about this. Your feedback helps us do better. We are looking into this issue and hope to resolve it promptly and accurately.”
- It is essential that you promptly respond if someone contacts your business after a negative review has been posted. Otherwise, they can be upset enough to add another negative review. (Yes, I have seen that happen.)
STEP 4: WORK ON YOUR GPA
It’s rare that a business is perfect and never receives at least one negative review. While it can be upsetting, it is part of doing business. Sometimes, we disappoint our customers; sometimes, customers are impossible to please. Regardless of the reason for the bad Google Review, perspective and a few best practices can help ease the pain when (probably not if) it does happen.
- Best Option: Fix & Delete – Think of your Google average as your GPA. Nothing improves a GPA faster than removing a bad grade. You can try to reach out to the customer (offline) and ask them to remove the review after the problem is solved. Most customers will agree to do this if the problem is resolved to their satisfaction.
- Next Best Option: Dilute Negative With Positive – While we cannot remove the poor reviews ourselves, and if the customer is not willing to remove them, the next best thing is adding more positives. Like your GPA, the only way to bring the averages up without taking out the bad grades is to add better ones. The number of positive reviews we need to make an impact will depend on the negative reviews.
- Reporting Doesn’t Work – Unfortunately, reporting trolls to Google doesn’t do any good. They don’t remove unwarranted reviews – even when it is obvious that it was a competitor trolling another company.
- Age Matters – Aside from negative reviews, the other thing that hurts is the age of reviews. You may have a 4-star average, but if your positive reviews are a year or older and you have several negative reviews that are more recent, it reflects that your standard of operations has dropped. By asking happy clients to review your work on a regular basis, you can help resolve that issue.
Rules of Thumb:
- To maintain a 4-star rating, you need four additional 5-star reviews to offset each 1-star review.
- The most recent negative review is the most impactful (within a 12-month period).
It should go without saying that Google Reviews are an important part of your company’s brand profile.
More and more customers and prospects vet your business and make purchasing decisions based on reviews. Your best course of action is to create an ongoing review effort to help you amp up your reviews and help you stay prepared should a negative review occur. Your goal should not be to flood the system at one time but to show a stable, steady level of positive reviews over time.
Jackie Awve Marketing is a boutique agency providing branding and marketing services.
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