Look to Online Reviews to Improve Your Business

What your customers say about your business can make or break your ultimate success. A company lives by its reputation. What is yours? Do you even know what your customers are saying about you? Do you encourage customer reviews to improve your reputation?

These are questions you should ask yourself. If you don’t have one in place already, you should have a customer review policy as part of your SEO and marketing strategies.

So what can you do to improve your customer reviews? Here are a few tips:

Read Popular Review Sites. Visit popular online review sites like the following:

  • Maps.Google.com
  • Local.Yahoo.com
  • Yelp.com
  • Gowalla.com
  • InsiderPages.com
  • CitySearch.com
  • Local.com
  • MerchantCircle.com

These sites, and others, are becoming popular places for customers to state their opinions about a business, and they also provide opportunities for local businesses to connect online through social networking. Peruse these sites out and find out what’s being said about you. Then take measures to improve your reputation online.

Ask for Reviews. The power of suggestion and a simple request from you can get your business on the boards. Regularly thank customers for their patronage and invite them to write reviews on one or more sites.

Reward for Positive Reviews. Thank your customers when they say something nice. Offer them a discount on their next purchase. Or give them a free product or service. You can generate more positive reviews when you customers know you are listening.

Never Slant The Odds. Online review sites like Yelp have had negative press in the past about business owners trying to “fix” their reviews by writing their own anonymous opinions. However, unethical practices like this can backfire with devastating consequences if you are found out. The best practice is to never try to manipulate review sites.

Respond to Negative Reviews. At some point, you may find a negative opinion posted on a popular review site. Don’t panic. Your business can still gain positive exposure if you handle negative opinions correctly. Never berate an individual for writing a negative opinion. Always write a response in a calm and professional manner. Letting others know that you respond to criticism will help them realize you are a true and ethical business person.

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