How to encourage good online reviews (and handle bad ones)

How to encourage good online reviews (and handle bad ones)

How do you get good online reviews? And how should you respond to bad reviews, when you inevitably get one? We’ve got some tips below to help you get it right.

Good reviews are some of the most effective marketing you can have for your business these days. They’re like supercharged word-of-mouth recommendations, helping drive new customers through your workshop door.

And the best bit? They’re free.

But how do you get good online reviews? And how should you respond to bad reviews, when you inevitably get one? We’ve got some tips below to help you get it right.

The absolutely vital importance of online reviews

Good reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook and similar platforms can significantly impact your business.

According to research, 82% of consumers read reviews before using a local business, with 52% of 18- to 54-year-olds saying they always read reviews. They tend to read at least 10 reviews before feeling they can trust a business, look for at least four stars, and most of them also read a business’s responses to their reviews before making a decision.

The secret to getting good reviews is, of course, to give excellent customer service. But you can’t just rely on a happy customer to leave a glowing review. If you want to leverage the power of online recommendations, it’s an excellent idea to ask for one.

Here are some tips.

How to get good online reviews

Asking customers for reviews might seem embarrassing but, honestly, they’re used to it. We’re all reading reviews before making purchase decisions, so we all understand the difference a good review can make to a local business like yours.

Here are some ideas to help you generate reviews:

  • Set up a tablet in the waiting room, dedicated for customer feedback and reviews
  • Leave business cards, flyers and promotional offers on the front passenger seat of the customer’s car, prompting reviews 
  • Send out a thank you letter, email or SMS suggesting that a review of the customer’s last workshop experience would be appreciated (include the links to your preferred review sites!)
  • If a customer is complimenting you on a job well done at the counter or on the way out the door, thank them and simply ask them to leave a Google or Facebook review
  • Thank every reviewer. Stalk the review sites and respond with gratitude to every single response, positive or negative.

Which brings us to…

How to respond to negative reviews

Sometimes we get things wrong. Sometimes we think we got things right but the customer has a different idea. Either way, sometimes these instances lead to negative reviews.

Whatever you do, don’t leave those reviews hanging there, unanswered. Some 81% of customers are put off by negative reviews – and 97% of them are specifically reading your responses to see how you handle them.

If you do get a negative review, consider taking these actions:

  • Do NOT try to delete the post. This will backfire quicker than you can imagine
  • Respond promptly. (But if you’re angry or annoyed, give yourself a couple of hours to calm down. Never respond while annoyed.)
  • Be real. In formulating your response, write like a person, not a corporation
  • Acknowledge the issue, even if you don’t think the customer is right. It could be as simple as “Oh no! That’s not what we like to hear. Thanks for providing this feedback and letting us know about this issue.”
  • Be sure to apologise. It appeases the customer and shows you care. Something like “We’re really sorry we didn’t match your service expectations today. It sounds like we didn’t meet our own high standards, either.”
  • Provide an explanation, but not an excuse. An apology might be enough but you can also explain what happened so readers don’t think this is a daily occurrence. “Unfortunately we experienced a serious technical issue with our software. We’re sorry for the inconvenience it caused!”
  • Say what you’re going to do about it. It could be as simple as saying “We’ll call you tomorrow to discuss these issues” or inviting the customer to call you. (It’s good to discuss the nuts and bolts offline!) You could also offer them a discount on their next service or some other kind of compensation.

Don’t forget to show off your reviews

Once you start getting good reviews, show them off!

They’ll already be very visible to customers on Google and Facebook, but you can also capitalise on them by embedding reviews into your own website and using them in your marketing material.

Whether you like it or not, reviews have a huge impact on your business. It’s time to embrace the technology and start using it to attract new customers to your workshop.

Do you have a strategy for handling customer reviews? If not, now is the time to come up with one!

This article was published 20/07/2020 and the content is current as at the date of publication.