If you want your company to succeed online, it’s vital to secure better online reviews from your customers. The benefits of good online reviews are hard to overstate; they can help you improve your reputation, earn more referral traffic, convince new customers to finalize their purchases, and even rank higher in search engines.

The question is, how can you get better reviews for your company?

Offer Better Products and Services

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The first and most important strategy is to offer better products and services to your customers. It stands to reason that if your service is impeccable and if your products are the best in the world, every customer you win will be willing to leave you a good review. For example, if you consistently sell high-quality office furniture online, it makes sense that your company would be well-reviewed on a site like this.

Consider collecting feedback from your existing and previous customers if you’re not confident in your current offerings. What do they like about your products? What do they feel the products are lacking? Is there a way you can improve your offer to make it even more appealing to future customers?

Similarly, you’ll want to scrutinize the customer service you provide. Are all your employees well-trained to provide best-in-class service to your customers? If a customer has a complaint or an issue, do your team members work hard to resolve the situation with a smile?

The more effort you put in at this phase, the easier it will be to cultivate good reviews.

Make Your Company Visible in Review Platforms

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Next, you need to make sure your company is visible in a number of popular review platforms. Some companies, like Yelp, allow you to claim and build your own business page, giving you direct access to the reviews that are posted, photos that are included, and company details (like address and phone number). If your business listing already exists (because someone left a review for it), you can still claim ownership of it and gain access to it.

Claiming ownership of your business pages and fleshing them out with photos, descriptions, and other information is going to make them more visible and more attractive to potential reviewers. If someone has a good experience at your business, they’ll be more willing to find you and leave a review.

Request Reviews

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After you’ve established a broader web presence, you can work to request more reviews from your existing customer base. However, you’ll need to be careful here. Many online review platforms have explicit rules forbidding certain actions. For example, in most cases, you’ll be prohibited from offering direct incentives to leave reviews; giving customers a $20 gift card to leave a positive review could get you banned from the platform entirely. In some cases, even asking for reviews is frowned upon.

But in cases where it’s permissible to ask for reviews, do it. Make customers know where you’re listed and guide them to leave their thoughts.

Respond to Positive Reviews

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If and when people leave positive reviews, try to engage with them. Replying with a simple “thanks!” or “hope to see you again!” will make those customers feel closer to your brand – and will encourage more people to also leave reviews for your business. It’s also a way to prove that your brand is paying attention to reviews, making customers feel like you value their perspectives. This, in turn, will boost your reputation.

How to Deal With Bad Reviews

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Inevitably, even the best businesses occasionally get bad reviews. If and when they come up, you’ll need a plan for how to deal with them.

  • Remain calm and polite. First, resist the temptation to respond aggressively or dismiss the reviewer. It’s important to remain calm and polite at all times to preserve your reputation – remember, this is all public. Coming at a customer with something like, “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” isn’t going to win you any new business – and it’s going to make the customer more upset. Start with, “I’m sorry” and pepper in plenty of “please”s and “thank you”s.
  • Provide the facts (when possible). If the reviewer is making false claims, feel free to dispute them. Provide onlookers with all the facts you have available to you, which may include the “other side of the story” from one of your employees. For example, if the customer says, “I ordered a cheeseburger and you never brought it out!”, you can reply, “according to our system, you ordered a cheeseburger with fries at 7:50 pm and we served it to you at 7:58 – but you had already left the restaurant.”
  • Offer a sincere apology. Even if your business has done nothing wrong, an apology is a simple, free, and oftentimes impactful gesture. Apologize for the bad experience this person had.
  • Make up for the experience. If you’re so inclined, try to make up for the experience. Offer a discount or something for free to bring the reviewer around. For example, you can say something like, “Unfortunately, we can’t undo your bad experience directly, but we can do everything we can to make sure your next experience with us is much better – and in line with our standards. Can I offer you a complimentary meal the next time you come in?” This is even useful if the person complaining doesn’t have a legitimate complaint; it shows just how far you’re willing to go to make up for bad experiences.
  • Learn something. All bad reviews offer something you can learn – and eventually apply to improve the business. Even the unfounded ones can teach you about the priorities that your customers have when visiting your business.

Optimizing your company’s online reviews is a process that takes time. It’s not something you can tackle in a few days or even a few weeks. But if you’re willing to consistently work to improve your products, improve your company’s visibility, and attract more positive reviews, eventually you’ll find yourself in a much better-reviewed place.