Online reviews: How they can solve some of your SMB’s biggest problems
Owning a small business can often feel like fighting an uphill battle. You’re constantly hustling to make a name for yourself, attract and retain customers, and build a team focused on delivering the best possible experience to your customers. A lot of time you feel stretched thin and stressed out because of everything on your plate.
A large chunk of your time is probably spent trying to solve the myriad of problems that arise from operating a business on a day-to-day basis. While online reviews might not be the magic bullet that solves all your ills, making a concerted effort to collect, track, and maintain your reputation through online reviews can lessen some of your stress and make your job easier.
One of the biggest challenges small business owners face is getting noticed. More than half a million businesses are started each month in the US, so it’s very easy to get lost in the shuffle. According to Eric T. Wagner, a serial entrepreneur and start-up expert, there are five main reasons businesses fail. I’d like to talk about two of them in this post that relate specifically to online reviews.
- Not really in touch with customers through deep dialogue
- No real differentiation in the market
First off, businesses should look for multiple ways to engage in meaningful conversations with their customers. Wagner puts it this way, “Dialogue is key. And 140 character tweets don’t count. Real dialogue with real customers (via whatever channel is best for them).” One avenue for you to open up a dialogue is online review sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Businesses that make it easy for their customers to leave a review are getting valuable feedback on their performance in real time. But collecting the reviews is just one part of the equation. To truly create a dialogue, you need to read and respond to the feedback.
Finding ways to differentiate your business can be difficult, especially if you are operating in a perfectly competitive market. If that is the case, one way to set your business apart from the competition is through customer service and providing a top-notch customer experience. And where do consumers go to learn about how a business treats its customers? You guessed it – online reviews. In fact, 92% of consumers will turn to online reviews to help them make a decision, and the number-1 factor they look for in an online review is overall star rating.
Speaking of overall star rating. A business can increase its revenues by 5 to 9 percent by increasing its overall star rating by just one star. If you don’t have a lot of reviews coming in then a negative review or two can have an adverse effect on the perception of your business and ultimately your bottom line. That’s why it is important to build out a process that streamlines the collection of online reviews. The more reviews you have coming in, especially reviews from your happiest customers, will push the negative reviews further down the list while in turn increasing your star rating.
Additionally, consumers will give more credence to reviews that were posted more recently. In fact, 44% of consumers stated that reviews older than one month are no longer relevant. The more often your business has online reviews the better because it will give potential customers a more accurate representation of how your business is operating.
Finally, online reviews can help improve your business operations. One thing that keeps small business owners up at night is whether or not things are running smoothly. The problem is it isn’t always clear at first glance what is working and what isn’t. Actively pursuing business reviews can provide you with actionable business insights in real time that can be used to improve how your business operates.
A lot of times, your customers will call out employees by name in their reviews. This enables you to identify top performers as it relates to customer service while also giving you the opportunity to coach up employees who might be struggling.
Podium can streamline collection of online reviews
Request a demo to see how Podium’s cloud-based solution can help your business use text messages to invite your happiest customers to review your business. Podium’s efficient, mobile process can help your business collect 15x the reviews that traditional platforms produce, which in turn will improve local SEO and ultimately boost revenues.