Google Reviews are gold for your business. In this blog, I’m going to cover everything from the importance of attaining Google Reviews, how to get them, how to deal with poor reviews (and good ones) and how to take those reviews to the next level in your marketing.
Google Reviews – why they are so important!
As an experienced business coach and marketer, I am constantly explaining to clients the absolute gold of testimonials and Google Reviews. Some of us in our marketing are uncomfortable saying “I am fantastic!” and people believe it less coming from you. When someone else says “Stone Business Coaching is fantastic!” then it carries so much more weight. With 88% of consumers trusting an online review as much as a personal recommendation, it’s very powerful. For those of you who are strong networkers and have built businesses on WOM (word of mouth) we all know how strong a personal recommendation is.
Great reviews give the prospect not only trust but a sense of comfort that they are making the right decision. In short, your raving fans have done half your selling job for you.
Finally, Google Reviews help your website and your ranking. Most businesses ranked 1-3 position in a search will have 8 reviews on average. If you want to rank well in Google and get Googles’ love, then you need to show Google some love. Want to be seen online, rank well in Google searches and be found by more customers? There are a number of strategies to do this, but one of them (which is free by the way) is attaining as many great Google Reviews as possible. Here are some stats I derived from www.brightlocal.com:
ü Local businesses have on average 39 reviews
ü 74% have at least 1 Google review
ü Businesses sitting in the top 3 Google ranking positions average 47 reviews
ü Bars, hotels, and restaurants have the most; accountants, marketers and constructions the least
ü A review of 4.42 stars is the average
ü 5% of business have a rating of less than 3 stars; 61% have between 4 and 5 stars.
ü To attain position 1-3 in search results, you’ll need about 472% more reviews than those 4-6.
ü Over 60% of the top Google ranked business will be those with the most Google reviews.
So, how do I get great Google Reviews?
Firstly and foremost, do a great job. Whether you’re a business coach, dentist, plumber or restaurant – focus on customer service. It’s actually easier (and more cost-effective) to keep a customer than to gain a new one. Delighted, happy customers stay with us longer and actually can become raving fans and strong advocates. They will often tell their friends and associates about us, recommend us on social media and of course, will give us lovely reviews.
Next, ask for a review. I know this sounds obvious but people generally don’t think to go looking for a place to give a review. If they are unhappy, yep, they sure will. If they feel you won’t listen, then they will vent via a review platform. Ask for reviews when:
- Your customer has expressed delight in your product or service. Strike while the iron is hot and ask then.
- When your product has been delivered. snowys.com.au is an excellent example. They deliver super quickly (even during Covid) and have excellent customer service. They have a review card in the package when it arrives.
- Ask at the end of the service or a stage of the service. Make asking for a review part of your process. You do your final invoice, thank them for their business and ask for a review. Because you are providing such great customer service, you’ve already checked in with them, know things have gone well and very likely will get a good response.
When it comes to asking for a favour, money or their sale – you must always make it easy for them. Asking for a review is no different. Don’t make them search where to do it. Give them the link. Make it easy for them to do you this favour. If you are dealing with individuals, they may not have a GMB account, so you might also provide the link to Facebook, as an alternative if they don’t have GMB. It’s an alternative, don’t expect someone to do multiple reviews. Make asking part of your day-to-day process – don’t just reach a goal and stop. Old reviews provide little trust (85% of people don’t trust reviews over 3 months old), so keep on this. You can ask for a Google Review via:
- A phone call and then email or text the link
- Send a personalised email
- Include a Review Card with your delivery
- Include a review request with your Leave Behind pack. This is usually used by tradies and might include the warranty, maintenance or care instructions and the Google Review request.
TIP! Don’t ask everyone at once. If Google sees an unusually high number of reviews on your site, it may cause you problems as it may look unnatural. I like to keep a list of people I ask and the date asked. Don’t be afraid to ask a second time. Last time they might have been busy and forgot about it. Do a follow up about a week later or at the next milestone.
A great review DOES require action!
Before we look at how to handle a negative review, let’s look at positive reviews. Do not ignore them. Someone took the time to do this for you and gave you 4 or 5 stars, so be sure to show a little appreciation. It might be something like “Thanks John for your lovely reviews; it’s been a pleasure working with you.” Make it a full sentence, not just “Thanks”.
How to handle a bad review
Firstly understand that as hard as we try, any business which has been around the block a few times will pick up a bad review. It might be a competitor being nasty (and yes, whilst illegal, it’s hard to prove), or a customer has unreasonable expectations. One client of mine got slammed for not answering his phone. He’s a tradie and was out of phone range for the day. Maybe one of your staff did have a bad day and didn’t do their best.
Remember also that around 75% of people think it will be easier to give a poor review online than to reach a real person on the phone. So be sure to have open communication so that customers can easily reach you on the phone and don’t feel like they need to resort to a poor review online.
Here is what to do (and not do):
- Don’t ignore it. People will watch to see how you respond. A great response is actually super powerful and shows onlookers how you treat customers, even when they are complaining.
- Don’t enter into a debate online and don’t respond negatively. Your customer may want to vent and do so with an audience; don’t be drawn into this. In fact, if you’re feeling angry or cranky, take a breath. Maybe get someone to sit with you (who is sensible) and help you word a positive response. Or better, have your responses pre-written, just in case, when emotion isn’t prevalent.
- Firstly determine who the person is. If you don’t recognize them, then nicely ask if they have the right business. It can happen where someone leaves the review on the wrong site.
- If it’s a genuine complaint, then say you’re sorry they had a bad experience and offer to rectify and take the discussion offline. Eg: “Mary, we’re really sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy your meal. We’d love the opportunity to make this right – can you give me a call on xxxxx.”
- Once you’ve taken the issue offline, then try to fix it. Maybe you can even negotiate a change in the review and ask for a do-over. Sadly people take advantage and try to score free stuff but it’s a small price to pay for maintaining your reputation.
- If it’s not something you can fix then ‘bury’ that poor review with other great ones. Even call a couple of your AAA clients and explain the situation and ask them a favour. They will very likely be more than happy to help you out. People can search “most recent” so make sure that the most recent isn’t a poor one.
- You can ask Google to remove a review, but reality is that unless it is inappropriate, they won’t get involved; they won’t play adjudicator between you and your customers.
- And most importantly, consider the complaint. Could you change your processes and do better? What was the (positive) learning from the complaint? A customer many years ago complained to me in a customer survey that he frequently couldn’t get through on the phone. We had only one line, but that got me thinking who else couldn’t get through? I changed that within a week. He’d done me a fantastic favour by letting me know.
How to Maximise your Reviews
Whilst there are review tracking and attaining tools and apps, such as TrustPilot or ReviewBuzz, I still strongly recommend Google. It’s the most common, it improves your website ranking, it’s trusted and it’s free. The more good or great reviews that you get equates to higher search ranking positions which equal to more leads. We all know that more leads reverts to greater sales and sales correlate to profit.
Once you have your reviews (and continue to get them) you should make the most of these great reviews. You should use them in your marketing, whether that’s on your website, in a brochure, or social media or included in a proposal document.
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