Ratings and reviews play a major role in influencing the buying decisions of the public. In fact, the majority of Australian internet users (60%) read online reviews or blogs before making a purchase.
Positive reviews can give your business an immediate boost, but even negative reviews present an opportunity for business to gain insights on how they can improve their practices. When negative feedback is handled well, 19% of people are open to changing their opinion of a business.
So whether they are good, bad or indifferent, ratings and reviews of your business can be a great way to attract more customers.
So how do you go about getting ratings and reviews?
Ratings and reviews is an organic process. You need your customers to experience your product or service and then be willing to share that experience online. Research shows that about 27% of internet users post online reviews – even more for certain age groups. So whilst you can wait in hope that 1 out of 4 customers take it upon themselves to review your business, there are some things you can do to help the process along:
- Ask your customers to rate and review you – Seems simple right? If you think a customer has had a positive experience, ask them to leave a review for you. If they sound keen, let them know a few sites where they can do so, like this one for example: yellowpages.com.au/review
- Give your customers a keepsake that says ‘Please review me’ – This can be as simple as a flyer or business card that points them to a review website. You can request some True Local Rate & Review cards by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Put links on your website to your business profile pages on review sites – You can convert your website’s visitors into promoters for your business by making it easy for them to leave reviews. Publish links to sites where your business already has a presence for ratings and reviews. Ace Airport Parking have done a great job of this on their website. Also take a look at their Loyalty Program page for more inspiration.
- Respond to ratings and reviews – Keep an eye on the ratings and reviews your business is receiving and be sure to reply in turn to all customer comments. This shows that you care about your customers and welcome feedback. Thank customers for their positive reviews, and start a dialogue with customers who have left negative reviews to get clarification on what you could do better. Don’t take criticism to heart or lash out at detractors – if handled well you could turn their opinion of your business. Here's a great example from Fusion Locksmiths.
- Send a message to your customer base – If you have other ways of contacting your customers (perhaps you have an email database or have followers on social media), send a message encouraging them to review your business. Include a link to your Yellow Pages or True Local listing or any other page where you would like them to share their review. Need help drafting an email? The True Local site has a template you can use.
Don’t worry if it takes a while to get some reviews, stick at it and over time you’ll start to see the results.
For all the things that we recommend you should be doing, there’s also a bunch of things that you should never do…
Things you should NOT do with ratings and reviews?
Ratings and reviews are an important expression of your customers. You should never do something that makes your customers feel uncomfortable otherwise it could come back to bite you.
Here’s a brief list of some of the things we recommend you DO NOT do:
- Pressure or pay your customers to write a review and/or rate your business
- Run promotions that only reward customers who leave positive reviews of your business (incentives must be offered equally to positive and negative reviewers)
- Ask or pay a third party to write reviews about your business
- You, your employees, friends or contractors writing reviews about your business
- Leave damaging reviews for your competitors
It’s important to note that the Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission (ACCC) takes a very dim view of any business that is seen to be misleading consumers through fake reviews. Some Australian businesses have been prosecuted by the ACCC in the past for posting fake reviews to their listings. Here are the ACCC guidelines on the topic.
Statistics taken from the 2016 Sensis Social Media Report