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Why SME mustn’t be afraid of online reviews

Customers have never previously had such a powerful voice thanks to the ever-growing capabilities of the internet and social media. The customer voice has also been amplified with the rise of online customer reviews.

Online customer reviews can sometimes be feared by businesses due to the potential for customers to post negative feedback and rate their experience poorly. However, the benefits of receiving a positive review and engaging positively with customers on review sites outweigh the negatives.

Customer review sites, including the review sections of online goods and services marketplaces, represent a significant opportunity for businesses. For instance, positive customer recommendations can play a big part in helping you secure new clientele because they help build trust. This is particularly powerful for people who may be unsure of what to look for in a good business.

Here are some ways your business can harness the positive power of review sites and what they can do to avoid the pitfalls.

Monitoring reviews

You can monitor reviews a number of ways. Setting up a Google Alert can report mentions of your business across the web, sent to your email. Also, some customer review sites can send you a notification each time you’re reviewed, make sure to sign up for this option if it is available. This can help you keep track of what customers are saying about your business. 

Ask your customers for reviews

If a customer was particularly happy with the service or product they received from your business, ask them if they would be happy to review your business online. Avoid offering incentives to reviewers as this can be misconstrued as a bribe.

Create a business page

You can create a profile on some customer review platforms. This will ensure the most accurate information about your business is displayed and will help customers find the right company to review.

Respond to positive reviews

Saying ‘thank you’ can be a way of acknowledging a positive review. It can also cement repeat businesses and encourage positive word-of-mouth, potentially winning you more business down the track.

Have a strategy for addressing negative comments

If the negative review is a genuine comment take it as an opportunity to improve your offering.

When dealing with all comments, both positive and negative, first decide the best person to manage feedback. This person needs to have good communication skills, be level-headed, and rational.

For negative comments, customers tend to respond well if they believe they are truly being listened to, so by responding to their negative comment, you show that you have listened.

The language used in your replies to negative comments needs to be thought out. Acknowledge their issue, show empathy and if necessary, give them an opportunity to discuss the issue further offline (i.e. over the phone, email or private message). Show understanding and try your best to fix their issue without taking offence to their comments.

Positive customer reviews can really boost word of mouth about your business. Make sure to engage with customers who review your business, and harness the benefits review sites offer.

About the author

Michelle Tucker is the chief marketing officer of Oneflare, an online marketplace connecting Australians with a network of 90,000 registered trade and service experts.

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Michelle Tucker

Michelle Tucker

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