How often do you search online to check into a local business? Do you check reviews on Yelp! before going to a business for the first time?

If you're anything like me, you might check reviews before going to a place you've never been or when a new restaurant opens up in your neighborhood. Maybe you're an avid Yelp! user who frequently visits the site to review everything from grocery stores to auto shops. Or maybe you don't even think to read reviews online before checking out a new spot. Regardless of your personal online review preference, reviews play a large role in consumer decision making. Today’s small business owner should be aware of the impact reviews have on the buyer’s decision; of the implications both positive and negative online reviews can have on a small business.

Take a look at this infographic from Dynamic eMarketing. See how important online reviews can be for your company’s online presence? “New customers care about old customers.” A potential customer may choose one business over another based on the experience described by previous customers. According to the survey, whether a review is positive or negative, 82% of respondents say reviews impacted their purchasing decision, and 84% of internet users trust customer reviews more than expert reviews. 90% of customers will check out your business prior to visiting and spending money, and customers are willing to spend up to 31% more on companies with excellent reviews.


Whether you like it or not, online reviews are important to your business. Your online reputation matters.

When a potential customer is reading reviews online, it's safe to assume they already know what service or item they are in need of. There are few steps between reading reviews and making a purchase, so it's important that companies stay on top of their online reviews and online reputation to turn that person reading online reviews into a new customer. Many people see reading reviews as educating oneself prior to making an important decision; the consumer is more comfortable trusting others who have made that same decision and are likely to follow their lead. This is why positive reviews can do wonders for a business and inversely, why negative reviews can be so detrimental to the success of another.


To Ask or Not to Ask?

If a customer has an especially positive experience with your business, there's not necessarily anything wrong with asking them to leave a positive review on your website or Yelp! page. Many marketers feel this is an acceptable practice and believe customers will more often than not oblige and give the good review. Some businesses are even very successful by simply asking for reviews. In A Marketer's Guide to Accumulating Awesome Online Reviews by Corey Eridon, he points out that setting up your presence on review sites such as Yelp!, Google Places, and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook is the first step in creating a positive online presence because that way you can control and encourage the online chatter about your business. Like many other marketers he suggests asking happy customers to leave reviews as it can generate a lot of positive reviews for your business. I highly recommend this article as a great resource for finding new and creative ways to get awesome online reviews for your business.

We feel you should strive to make the customer WANT to review your company. Their customer experience should be so wonderful that afterwards they feel compelled to leave a glowing review on your Yelp! page. While I use Yelp! pretty frequently to check places out, I very rarely leave reviews and will only review a business when I've had an absolutely outstanding experience...without the business asking for a review at the end of the transaction. This just comes down to personal preference and what you believe is right for your business.



Responding to Reviews

Responding to each and every review your company receives, both positive and negative, is the best way to safeguard your online reputation as well as help generate future reviews. Briefly thanking a customer for leaving a positive review and letting them know you appreciate their business is a simple way to show you care about your customers. This will speak volumes to potential customers who are reading reviews. If you do happen to receive a negative review online, don't panic. Don't get angry, don't get defensive, and definitely don't blame the customer. Don't delete the negative review, either. Thank them for sharing their concerns and do your best to resolve whatever issues they encountered with your business. Be sure your response is nothing but cordial, courteous and kind. Reach out to the customer offline to resolve the issue but be sure to address it publicly. This also speaks volumes to the potential review-reading customer because it proves you care about the customer experience and will do everything in your power to make them happy. This is the only way to save your online reputation from bad online reviews.


Dedicate a Space for Customer Reviews on Your Website

Creating a page on your website featuring past customer testimonials and a comment box for happy customers to leave reviews is a good way to generate positive reviews. This is a great option and a must-have webpage for online companies. Your customers are already viewing your site so why not make it easy for them to leave positive reviews? This is also a great way to show how awesome your business is to potential customers who are most likely viewing your site. 84% of internet users trust customer reviews more than they trust expert reviews so it's important that these are legitimate customer testimonials that potential customers can trust. Make it easy for your customers to leave reviews so you always have fresh content to add to your testimonial page. You can even include positive tweets submitted by customers on Twitter and positive Facebook posts, too. You can embed these social media posts on your site which adds to the legitimacy and trust a customer will feel towards your brand.


Do you ask happy customers to leave reviews for your shop, or let your high level of quality work inspire them to make the decision themselves? What's the most successful way you've found to inspire people to leave positive reviews? Let us know in the comments below, we always love hearing from members of the Repair Community! Stay tuned for more from eTech Parts - coming soon we'll explore the pros/cons and best practices for utilizing Yelp! for your business. LIKE us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram @etech_parts and you can even subscribe to our YouTube channel!