Our advice, of course, is to become proactive, for all the positive reasons that regular readers will be familiar with. But there is now another reason:
- Your customers are now being asked to write reviews - by Google and the review sites
One of our staff recently holidayed in Corfu. They did not research their hotel through TripAdvisor, they didn't book their hotel through TripAdvisor, they didn't even look up any hotels on Corfu on TripAdvisor. BUT they have the TripAdvisor app on their phone.
Three days after returning, they received an email from TripAdvisor inviting them to review hotels, restaurants and places of interest near where they had been staying.
How did TripAdvisor know? Simple - our staffer had 'location services' enabled on their iPhone - so the TripAdvisor cookies told them! It's the same with Google.
They also recently wrote a review of a restaurant in London - so Google asked them if they would like to review any nearby businesses.
This is the future of reviews. Your customers are going to be asked to review your business by Google, or one of the many independent reviews sites.
Here we come to the nub of the issue. Put yourself in the position of the recipient of these 'helpful' messages; how much more likely to respond would you be if your experience of the business in question was negative? You know the answer, and to make it crystal clear, estimates by those who make academic studies of reviewers' behaviour put the figure at roughly 15:1. To make that point again: a customer is fifteen times more likely to post a review if they have had a negative experience.
From now on there will be two kinds of business:
- Passive businesses that allow, by default, their unhappy customers to dominate the impression their potential customers receive in search
- Businesses that engage, proactively, with reviews - enabling their satisfied customers to create a great first impression in search
Looking like this in search - every search - is not just a matter of professional presentation, it drives business through your door, reinforces the sale ("Have you seen what our customers are saying on the web?") and enhances staff morale. There are three touch points in every business's Google Box: the score - 4.9 here, the number of reviews - 282 here, and the rich snippets: "Huge thank you to Suay...". together they combine to encourage your prospective customer to make the crucial decision to either visit your website - where they will see your more reviews (thanks to HelpHound) - or make direct contact
Our advice to businesses that have yet to engage...
Is to start now. We have seen so many examples of businesses who said to us, only a year ago "Oh, we'll wait and see." And now? Those self-same businesses are on the phone: "We've suddenly got [pick a number between one and five] one star reviews on Google, and it's hurting, what should we do?" or "A competitor has suddenly started to look great."
The straight answer is 'Our advice has not changed'. Our tactful answer is 'Let's implement Dialogue now, and you will soon be able to stop losing sleep over the negatives and begin seeing just how much business positive reviews - on Google and on your own website - will attract.