Monday, September 29, 2014

How to Improve Your Small Business Customer Reviews

business review, improve online presence
Nothing should be more important to a business than what its customers have to say. In the era of social media, it is easier than ever for customers to disseminate their thoughts around the globe. Just one poor review from a customer can cripple a business. On the other hand, a shining review can make a business popular overnight. Whether reviews are lackluster or good but not great, several simple techniques can improve them.

First, never conclude a transaction with a customer without asking for feedback. Use email, telephone, and face-to-face encounters to request ratings from customers and suggestions for improvement. This small step can prevent customers from posting their thoughts online. Let customers vent their dissatisfaction and allow you to rectify the situation. In addition, ask them to provide constructive ideas that can help the business improve.

Communication is a two-way street so make it just as easy for customers to contact the business. Include the company telephone number, email address, and social media pages on the company website and invoices. No matter how feedback is received, take what customers have to say seriously and act on constructive advice. If themes emerge in customer feedback, address these areas first. Customers will realize that their input makes a difference and appreciate the resulting improvements, leading to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth.

Own social media rather than becoming a victim of it. Claim the business on review sites like Yelp and Foursquare so customers have somewhere to post online reviews. Check reviews regularly and respond in a timely manner so customers see that the business is paying attention. Use the business website, emails, invoices, and in-person conversations to direct customers toward these review sites. When using online surveys, select software with push-to-social question capabilities so survey takers will share positive feedback via social media.

Whether the preferred online environment is a social media account, a blog, or the business website, remain active. Customers feel more comfortable contacting a business that maintains an online presence. This is part of the corporate branding effort that personalizes the business to consumers. Set up a Google Alert to monitor what customers are saying about the business and respond to both positive and negative feedback.

If the business is not tied-in to the latest technology, there are still ways to solicit customer feedback. Create comment cards and insert them in shopping bags when purchases are made. If business is conducted via telephone, make post-sale follow-up calls to find out whether customers are satisfied with their purchases. During these conversations, direct customers to online review sites, company social media pages, or the company website to publish their thoughts.

Most businesses will receive at least one negative comment during their lifetimes. Handle these with dignity, avoiding the urge to get angry or defensive. Apologize, provide an explanation, and, if possible, offer a solution. If the issue cannot be resolved quickly, respond that a resolution is forthcoming and follow up once the issue is resolved. Decrease the likelihood of future negative reviews by providing every customer with an excellent experience!

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