ONLINE OPPORTUNITIES: Connecting with customers through online reviews is a powerful tool.     Picture: shapecharge

Online reviews are becoming more and more important in this digital age and some of the biggest online platforms in the world such as Facebook, TripAdvisor and Google are competing hard for this space. This is a good thing as it drives us to improve our products and services and ultimately make our businesses better.

But in regional Australia, we are a bit behind the big cities and many other parts of the world, with a number of great local business only receiving one or two reviews on these platforms, and some none at all. If your business fits into this category, I would encourage you take immediate action as research shows that 84 percent of people trust online reviews just as much as they trust reviews from family and friends; and this is a staggering number considering that 91 percent of people read these reviews.

From a customer’s perspective, have you ever walked out of a local store feeling very pleased with the products and/or service you received and thought, ‘I’m going to tell all my friends and family how great this business is’, but then taken no further action?

By taking just a couple of minutes of your time, you could share your great experience with the community (and the world) and greatly help the business. If such a review was made under a business profile that you possess, you may find that this will also help generate more positive reviews for you in return.

Bad reviews are also going to be received, but bad reviews are a huge opportunity, not a problem. If a customer has a problem with a product or service in your businesses, you immediately work to solve it. But what if an unhappy customer leaves a negative review online?

It’s important you constantly monitor your sites for negative reviews and reach out directly to try to solve the customer’s problem. The first thing we need to do is make the customer feel heard. If you jump too quickly to try to solve the problem, some will think you didn’t take the time to fully understand the problem and how it made the customer feel. Listen, ask questions, and then validate the customer’s feelings.

Put yourself in their shoes and say, for example, ‘It must have been frustrating for you to not be able to….’, then focus on solving the problem, confident that you now not only understand the problem, but what the customer really needs.

Once the customer is happy, you could politely ask them to edit their rating, and in some cases they may even remove it. You may be surprised how many will do so; after all, customers don’t want to leave negative reviews. They want to be happy.

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