You know what they are. You want them for your business. But do you know how to use them to your advantage?
Unfortunately, not many companies know how to use Google reviews for their content marketing campaigns. But the fact is, business reviews on Google are extremely important for the success of your brand.
Research by SmallBiz Trends showed that 68% of global customers check online reviews before making any purchase decision. Additionally, companies have noticed a rise in conversion rates by 133% in many instances, proving how valuable online reviews are to business success.
How reviews & ratings affect your business
Did you know that customers will spend 31% more time browsing a business’ website if it’s received “Excellent” reviews? In fact, 92% of internet users claim that they have no hesitation enlisting the services of a company that has consistently received 4+ star rating; even if it’s their first-ever transaction with the company.
Both reviews and ratings play a very important role in a business’ success. But they become all the more important when you consider how Google’s messed-up algorithm used to determine your overall business rating.
Have you ever wondered why you got a 4.8 rating on Google when all of your ratings were five stars? The reason for this mismatch between your actual ratings and the rating that Google provides boiled down to its algorithm; and in particular, the Bayesian average.
The Bayesian average, at its simplest, is a method to calculate the mean score of a particular entity based on the ratings and reviews it gets. However, instead of restricting the mean calculation to the available data set, the Bayesian average considers a host of other characteristics to reduce the discrepancies that may occur when the available data set has large deviations or is too small to give the right solution.
In layman terms, if you’re a new company and you have too few reviews, Google calculates your cumulative rating based on its own assumption of how your reviews & ratings would be, had you received more feedback from customers.
So, if you’ve received a string of 4-star ratings or “Good”/“Average” reviews in your first 4-5 reviews, Google assumes that the next set of ratings will be the same, and therefore calculates the cumulative rating based on this assumption. Over a period of time, the final rating would only lower, since your average would already be low.
Thankfully, Google stopped using the Bayesian average in 2017. Yet, for companies that have been around from before 2017, the after-effects of the Bayesian average are still present and are still devastating.
This is where it really helps to leverage your customers’ Google reviews to promote your brand positively and to encourage more people to try your products/services. After all, so many people read them to make decisions.
Image Credits: Pixabay
Respond to reviews the right way with these tips
- Understand what the feedback means and how it may affect you
A lot of times, brands try to justify their actions or defend themselves against the review that customers provide. However, this is the worst thing you could do, since you’ll appear very confrontational, and in some cases, ill-informed about the problem.
Instead, take the time to read the review with care. Try to remain as objective as you can and don’t get emotional. Try to understand why the customer wrote what they did and evaluate how this review might affect you. Once you understand this, you’ll be able to set in place a good recovery measure.
- Research to see if you’re really in the right or the wrong
Next, conduct intensive research to understand whether the customer’s claims are true or not. Speak to the relevant people, trace the customer’s journey through documentation and look through their Google profile to find out if they routinely post negative reviews or if this is a one-off situation.
All of this will help you know if you are actually in the wrong or have been wrongfully implicated. This will also help you draft a reply to this review.
- Always publicly respond to each review
Once your research is done, it’s time to respond to the review. It’s very important to remember not to delete any negative review you get on Google or flag it as inappropriate. That just casts you in a terrible light.
Use this opportunity to transform your reviews, good or bad, into brand marketing material. Here’s how you can do this:
- Respond to each reviewer by name
Research shows that 44% of customers are willing to become repeat purchasers for a brand that gives them a very personalised shopping experience. This experience also includes the after-sales, feedback stage.
So, make it a rule to respond personally to the reviewer. Use their name (their initials, if that’s what’s visible) and then draft your message. For example, instead of starting with “Dear customer,” say “Hey Paul!” or “Hello C.J!”
This makes the message seem more customised, written specifically for the customer. It also makes the customer feel cared-for and reduces their dissatisfaction with you.
- Thank them for their inputs
A study by TD Banks showed how 60% of respondents liked it when companies took the time to thank them individually, and 40% loved it when these thank you messages were personalised.
Irrespective of whether these thank you notes were sent after a customer purchased a product or they were sent as a reply to negative feedback, a single word of thanks can make customers feel valued by you. This will make them more willing to accept your justification and maybe even revise their review and rating.
One very important thing to remember here is that you should always thank customers who’ve also given you good reviews and excellent ratings. When you proactively thank positive reviewers, you make them feel cared for, like a valued member of the brand community. This can encourage them to visit you for their next purchase.
Image Credits: Pixabay
- Apologise for their discomfort
The next thing you need to do is apologise to your reviewers.
It doesn’t matter if you’re really in the wrong or not. But your apology indicates that you’re willing to take ownership and responsibility for any problems your customers face after using your products/services.
This makes you look super-professional and motivates even disappointed customers to give you a second chance. Here’s a stat to back this – 89% of customers are willing to give a brand a second chance (despite a bad experience), provided they’re transparent about their operations and their mistakes.
- Justify your actions
This is important only for negative reviews. It’s important to note that justifications are usually accepted in good grace by most customers. But it’s the way you say it that makes all the difference.
Put across your points in a logical sequence. Explain why your company did what the reviewer accused it of, and explain how it was done with the best intention. Never be too aggressive and always be courteous.
Always remember to end your justification in 1-2 lines. No customer wants to read a paragraph, especially when they’re angry. Don’t try to counter any further arguments they pose. Instead, head straight to the possible solution.
- Offer implementable solutions
When it comes to proposing solutions, always make sure you understand the history of the reviewer. Some customers are okay with a replacement order, while others are happier with a discount on the next order. Study their concerns carefully, look through their older purchase experiences and google reviews (if any), and see how past problems have been solved.
If you don’t know how to resolve the issue, be humble and ask the reviewer to suggest a solution themselves. This will make the customer feel important and will reduce the negative feeling they may have towards you.
- Give additional value
Finally, in addition to the solution you offer, be willing to throw in some extra benefit – free delivery of goods, an extra pass to an event, a food coupon, and so on. This will mollify their anger and will erase all bad memories.
How your Google reviews become your best endorsers
Customers are always watching brands. They always evaluate how you behave; not just with them, but with other customers.
Your professional and courteous response to all negative reviews and your acknowledgement of all positive reviews will serve to create a strong and positive image of your brand in their mind. It will override any bad experience they had with you; and sooner or later, they’re bound to give you another shot.
Feature Image Credits: Pixabay
Nisha Prakash is a blogger specializing in social media marketing and content management. She is an avid runner and a bibliophile.