Online Reviews: Join The Conversation
A few months ago, on our sister site, Idea Sandbox, I wrote about the difficulty I was having securing a florist for my wedding. Well, don’t worry, the wedding has come and gone (*sniff, sniff*) and the flowers looked beautiful. So, it all worked out in the end – and the florist with the most personal and attentive customer service won my business.
That being said, all in all, I contracted 10 vendors for my wedding, ranging from hair and make-up, to a restaurant where we hosted a luncheon. Each small business catered to different aspects of the event, but they all had one thing in common – once the wedding was over, they reached out (via email) to ask for a review on either their website or on another review site.
While I had already been mentally writing my extremely positive reviews, it was really nice to have a reminder from a real live person to actually write them. So, I sat down one afternoon, and wrote them all. Not only was it fun to relive the memories of how each partner helped the wedding come to life, I felt good knowing that another uncertain bride might read my review, and take a chance on contracting a small business for their wedding, and have the same fantastic experience that I did.
Speaking of uncertain consumers… did you know that 70% of online shoppers trust reviews from people they don’t know? In fact, the research is mounting in favor of the steadfastness of consumer reviews, particularly those made online. They’re here to stay, and they’re often times the main resource for consumer decision-making.
So, small business owners, while you can’t control what people write about you on the internet, you can become part of the conversation. Create a Yelp or Trip Advisor account for your business and respond to reviews (both positive and negative) on those sites (amongst others). Not only will this show your dedication to your businesses (and your customers), but it will also provide a forum from which to learn lessons on how to improve your customers’ experience.
Then, ask your regular customers to review your business online. You can even put a small sign by the cash register, or a reminder on the receipt. If you host a special event for a customer (a private luncheon, or a catered service) – reach out after the event, and ask them to write a review. Best case scenario: you get a gold star, and will hopefully see an increase in business from this positive review. Worst case scenario: you find out that you need to work on a few things, and you go from there.
Whatever you do… don’t ignore the reviews of your business online. Join the conversation so you can change the conversation.