Feedback is your friend: How to use online reviews to start conversations

Online business reviews
by: Shannon Givens , April 16, 2019

Feedback is your friend: How to use online reviews to start conversations

For better or worse, online reviews in which customers comment on their business interactions are significantly impacting purchase decisions.

Pew research backs that up, noting 82 percent of American adults sometimes (or always) read online reviews before buying something for the first time — and that number rises to 96 percent for those 18 to 29. For many, those reviews have real credibility; 51 percent of respondents believe they provide accurate quality assessments, and another survey found 88 percent of Americans and Canadians trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

What does that mean for your business? On the bright side, enabling such reviews on your own website makes you appear more honest, credible and transparent. It also positively impacts your company’s organic search rankings in search engines, since it boosts your unique content and works to position you as a higher authority with more relevance. And positive reviews on other sites work similarly.

“Not offering user reviews (or ignoring them as a potential marketing opportunity) is akin to alienating 88 percent of your buying population, depriving them of information they want to help them make their buying decisions,” advises Jayson DeMers in Forbes. “As they increase in importance and more competitors start doing more to encourage customer reviews, your involvement is only going to become more necessary.”

Of course, it’s in your best interest to maintain quality standards that discourage your customers from leaving bad reviews. But since you can’t always control customer perceptions, you also need a strategy for managing your reputation by outweighing bad reviews with good reviews while acknowledging the bad ones and trying to turn them into conversations. A few tips in that regard:

Surveying every customer may encourage them to also review you online.

Use software that alerts you to new online comments about your business. On your website, you should alleviate risk by reviewing and approving posts before publishing them; that said, you should publish (and respond to) virtually everything unless it contains hate language, profanity or racial or religious inflammatory statements.

Establish or claim presences for your business on as many local review sites as possible, including Yelp, Angie’s List and Google+ Local. Many discourage you from directly asking customers for reviews, but you can encourage them by posting clickable buttons on your website and social media sites ensuring customers are aware of such reviewing options.

Respond to all online comments with personalized greetings that align with your brand, indicating those comments have been read by a human being. Positive remarks warrant a thank you and specific response, while negative ones may require an apology, an explanation of what went wrong (if there is one) and a discount or free offer with an invitation to try again. But do avoid arguing with customers online; try to resolve such issues offline instead.

Consider optimizing positive reviews in your marketing and ad campaigns.

“Instead of looking at reviews as an end point … look at them as a starting point,” offers Kathrina Tiangco on “You don’t have to jump through hoops to make everyone happy, but do actively listen to customers’ comments and concerns. “If you remain consistent with these best practices, eventually you’ll find the general attitude shifting in your favor.”

Talk to Custom Toll Free about securing easy-to-remember hotline phone numbers that can help you collect valuable customer reviews.

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