Ranking factors beyond reviews.
Although these features should definitely be taken advantage of, you definitely need to look past rankings when it comes to being motivated to get reviews. You instead need to consider getting an increasing number of good reviews over time to help develop and improve your reputation, instead of just managing it.
The fairly new Local Finder results provide users in some verticals with the chance to sort the results that they see based on ratings. This feature will probably be available to more industries in the future, which allows people to choose how good a local business has to be before they consider patronizing it. Therefore, ranking well might not do that much for your business unless you also have ratings of at least a 3 star average.
Consumers are also learning better ways to do searches and many ask to see “best of” something instead of just “something.” For example, nobody want to see a below-average or average oral surgeon. If you need to have a root canal done, you are going to want to find the best dentist in your local area to do the operation on you. If you aren’t able to locate a good one in your town, then most likely you will be willing to travel in order to find a specialist fairly close by that everybody is raving about.
Understanding Your Net Promoter Score
One easy way of determining how your reputation is continuing to develop over time is to take a look at the Net Promoter Score of your company. A single question is asked of customers: How likely are you to recommend this brand to a colleague or friend? A simple formula is then used to calculate the score.
If over time the Net Promoter Score increases, then you company is doing a good job of keeping your customers satisfied. This will be reflected in your online reviews and your business’s steady overall growth.
Although you might not want to use the Net Promoter Score to help you improve your business, it is still a solid concept. Ask all of your customers for feedback. Then act on the things you learn to improve your services and products on a continuous basis.
Refining your process will enable you to respond quickly to those with concerns or complaints, and make things right for them before they have an opportunity to publicly criticize you, while your happy customers can be encouraged to write reviews for you and tell others about their experiences, both offline and online.
Contrary to what many business owners think, a majority of customers are not eager to post bad reviews online. People have a tendency to only leave reviews when they have either an exceptionally bad or exceptionally good experience. You can mitigate bad experiences by asking for honest feedback and then immediately doing whatever is need to make your customer happy. This is a clear path to obtaining fewer bad reviews and more good reviews online.
It takes more than just talk to fix problems
It’s easy finding examples that show how the refusal of a business to fix problems when they have been brought to the attention of staff has resulted in negative reviews. Obviously it is much better to listen to a customer and then fix the problem than it is to have to keep apologizing for poor service.
Having a strong commitment to continuously improving your business based on the feedback you receive from customers is what is needed to be one of your area’s best businesses of its kind. This kind of strategy can bring in an increasing number of new customers to your business over time and also encourage your past customers to come back.
Since 2004 the local algorithms of Google’s have continued to improve exponentially. Google wants to be able to reward businesses online for being popular and prominent in the offline world. Therefore we need to ensure that our companies really shines. Those businesses that are not willing to do this will end up doomed to dying a slow death since you can hide from having a bad reputation any longer.
Best practices for developing your reputation
Obtain company-wide buy-in.
Everybody who is a part of your organizations needs to be committed to asking customers for feedback and listening sincerely for areas that should be and can be improved upon. It needs to start at the very top and flow throughout your entire organization. You need to always remember that you are asking customers for ways that your business to be improved, so even your happy customers may have suggestions for you. Consider this to be positive, and not something that is negative.
Problems need to be identified and then mitigated as soon as possible after a customer’s experience with your business. Ideally, it should be prior to the person leaving your business location or prior to the service provider leaving the location where the work has been performed. That is your best opportunity for delighting and learning from your customers.
Give customers a way to register their complaints directly on your company’s website. People can have less than perfect experiences even with the best businesses, and at times people just need to have a way to vent. That is why it is a good idea to provide them with a way of communicating with you that is out of the public eye. Monitor your on-site complaints closely and respond to them immediately.
As soon as a customer visits you contact them to thank them and then ask them about their experience with your company.
Although sometimes a phone call is needed (like an oral surgeon checking on their patient), in a majority of cases, an email will work just fine. Send a message within a couple of days following the interaction to ask them about their experience. Also ask for any suggestions they might have on how things could be improved. Even people who are very happy with their experience might have some great ideas for you to consider.
Respond appropriately to comments from customers.
Address both concerns and praise and thank them for their help in you being able to improve your business. Ask happy customers politely if their comments can be used on your website and then also ask if their name and photograph can be included. Also suggest to them that they can help your business as well as other customers by going to popular online review websites and commenting on the positive experiences they have had. Give them links to your listing at several popular review websites so that it is easy for them to follow through. Address the concerns of customers who have had negative experiences honestly and sincerely. Offer to do whatever you can to make things right for them and let them know what you are planning to do in order to prevent the same thing from happening in the future.
Take customer suggestions to heart
Do whatever you can to keep improving your business on a continuous basis so that your clientele’s needs and wants can be satisfied. That way you will constantly be growing your business and improving both your offline and online reputation.