Customer Reviews: You Know the Why, Learn the How

Google Customer Reviews

Table of Contents

If you couldn’t tell by last week’s blog post, we feel pretty strongly about prioritizing online customer reviews.

Customer reviews are essential for improving your SEO rankings and building trust. We also understand, the idea of asking for reviews can feel intimidating, self-serving or even potentially damaging.

But there’s no need to worry. You can incorporate an online review process that is simple, easy and helps enhance the customer relationship.

According to a Search Engine Land article, 70% of people will leave a review for a business when asked. And if you’re ever on social media, you probably notice that people typically like to share their opinions.

The first step is claiming, verifying and optimizing your Google Business Profile. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times — focus your online brand optimization around Google.

Your online customer review plan can include a variety of platforms, like Zillow, Yelp, etc. But the foundation and most important platform for collecting and showcasing your reviews should be Google.

Once you’ve set up your Google Business Profile, leverage these best practices for receiving and responding to customer reviews.

Start With Your Network of Brand Advocates

If you’re just getting started gathering online customer reviews, begin by asking those you know. Think of those who already love your business and are willing to leave their honest, in-depth opinion.

If you’ve developed personal relationships with previous customers, these are great options to start asking for a review. These loyal customers trust and value your business, so you want to make sure to tap into those good vibes.

Once you’ve tapped into your network, if you’re a high-volume company, we recommend building an automatic customer review process. There are a lot of tools and services out there that can help you do this. Just make sure it’s software that will solicit Google reviews.

Be Thoughtful and Personal When Requesting Customer Reviews

When building your customer reviews strategy, make sure your ask comes across as friendly and grateful. You want to show your appreciation for them using your business and taking the time to leave a review.

Creating a few ready-to-go templates can make the process easier for you (this is something we’re happy to help provide). But when using a template, each request should be personalized to the specific customer and your brand.    

This personalized touch can go a long way in making a customer feel valued and helping build customer loyalty.

Consider the Timing of Your Review Request

Depending on what type of business you have, the optimal time for sending a request can vary. But there are a few key things to keep in mind across any industry or service.

Ask for a review when the customer is the most satisfied with the service or product you’re providing. This is often immediately following a positive transaction. The positive experience is still fresh in their mind. It will be easier for them to remember and share why they would recommend you to someone else.

Tip: Building in an automatic thank you email at the end of a transaction is the perfect opportunity to include a review request.

If you’re in a service industry where you work with customers over an extended period, it’s valuable to ask early if the client is willing to provide a review when everything is wrapped up.

Make Leaving Customer Reviews as Easy as Possible

Most people lead busy lives. Even if someone loves your business, if it’s not easy to leave a review, customers won’t take the time. And you want those reviews. As we’ve noted before, these reviews account for 17% of the formula for how Google ranks a local business.

When asking a customer for a review, make sure it’s a fool-proof process. In the request – email or text – provide a direct link to the review section of your Google Business Profile. Here is a quick overview from Google on how to do so.

One thing to note, your customers do need to have a Google account to leave reviews.

Respond to All Customer Reviews – Even the Negative Ones

Part of your online customer reviews strategy must include a process for reading and responding to EVERY review you receive.

A short, but thoughtful response can enhance the customer relationship, create a lifelong customer and convert potential customers. According to BrightLocal’s 2022 Survey, 89% of people are ‘highly’ or ‘fairly’ likely to use a business that responds to all its reviews.

Even more important, 57% of people are ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ likely to use a business that doesn’t respond to reviews. That means you can lose more than 50% of potential customers by ignoring your online reviews!

It’s especially important to respond to negative customer reviews. A considerate, empathetic response to a customer’s complaint has the potential to create a more positive experience for that customer. For more information on handling negative reviews, check out this blog post.

Even if your response doesn’t change that person’s opinion, it can impact how other potential customers view your business. According to one study,  56% of customers said that a company’s response to a review changed their perspective.

When responding to a negative review, be honest and apologize when appropriate. Google also recommends signing your review with your name or initials to make it more authentic.

As a side note, if you believe a review is inappropriate or mistakenly left, you can ask Google to take it down. However, whether a review is removed, is completely up to Google and it may not be taken down.

Important Things to Remember/Not Do

Before we close out, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to customer reviews. Google has several requirements around reviews, including:

  • Don’t offer incentives to get a customer to leave a review.
  • You can’t have reviews from current or former employees.
  • Reviews shouldn’t include URLs or links.
  • Reviews cannot be copy and pasted from somewhere else online.

Tip: You can have customers use their same Google review on other sites like Yelp, Zillow, but not vice versa.

Online reviews are just one part of the three-part strategy to a strong online profile. If you want to learn about the other two, or get a free 30-minute online brand review, set up time with us today!

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