Online reviews matter. Today, 90% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses and 82% read online reviews for them. Of those that read reviews, 97% read the businesses’ responses to reviews. What does this mean to a print and mail shop? You need to manage online reviews because they directly impact your business.

Claim or Create your Business Page

Google Places, Yelp and other review sites use public data, such as telephone directories, to generate pages for businesses. Some of these sites create pages automatically so the public can find a business to review it while other sites only create a page if a business receives a review.

Claiming an existing page is free, easy and important. Once you have claimed your page, you control the content and remove inaccurate information. Creating a new page for your business is also very easy. The process begins by visiting each of the review sites and look for a link such as “claim your page,” “unlock your Page,” “create your page,” or “for businesses.” From there you follow the prompts and will soon have your page.

Track Reviews

Once you have claimed your pages, it is now time track reviews. Fortunately, Yelp and other sites can send you notifications when your business receives a review if you “join” their site. Google Alerts offers broader search parameters, and will notify you if your business name appears in a review, blog, discussion or web page. These options are free, and you’ll be a step ahead of the competition if you do.

Respond to Positive Reviews

Positive reviews are great to receive, but remember the statistic above – 97% of people who read reviews also read the business’ response to them. The best way to manage positive reviews is to let the customer know that you appreciate their compliments and their business. Always respond in an appropriate, professional manner.

With positive reviews, there are a few things that you should NOT do. These are: 

  • Do not offer discounts, vouchers or other tangible rewards to people who have left positive reviews because it looks as if you have bribed them for writing this review or for future positive comments.
  • Do not annoy people who have posted positive reviews. This can happen if you contact them and invite them to join your newsletter or you target them with ads or marketing materials.

 Respond to Negative Reviews

Many businesses fear negative reviews, but ignoring them won’t make them go away and can actually make the situation worse. The truth is that having a negative review or two gives your business legitimacy because companies that only have positive reviews are either a scam or are posting fake reviews.

When you receive a negative review, and you will because you can’t make everyone happy, consider it a learning opportunity. Review the complaint to determine if it is valid. If it’s a legitimate problem, learn from it and take steps to correct the situation. Respond to the review by thanking the person for their feedback, sharing how you have corrected the issue, and encourage them to contact customer service, the owner, etc. so that you can rectify the situation.

If the negative review is not valid, still respond and be very professional. If the review is from someone who has not actually used your business, thank the person for their comments, gently explain that you have no record of serving them and encourage them to leave the review for the appropriate business. If the complaint is from a verified customer and completely unfounded, again thank them for their feedback, apologize that they are unhappy, and assure them that you will take steps to avoid the issue in the future. In this situation, you may or may not invite the person to contact your business. You don’t want to reward them for leaving a false review, but it may be smart to do so anyway to keep your reviews positive. It’s your call and your response should be determined on a case by case basis.

Encourage Positive Reviews

Online reviews promote your business and can bump your SEO rankings, so you want as many positive ones as possible. There are several ways to encourage happy customers to leave a positive review:

  • Display the logos of the review sites in your mail shop and on your website. You can use “plugins” with those logos on your site so a visitor can click on it and be taken directly to the review page.
  • You can also embed a ‘Review us now’ button on your website that takes customers directly to the review site.
  • Consider asking especially satisfied customers to post a review, such as someone who is amazed at the high quality of their print order.
  • Add a Yelp or Google logo to your door to remind the customer when they enter and leave.

As always, do not bribe customers into leaving positive reviews and don’t send an email to your entire customer list asking them to post a positive review. The first one is unethical and the second one makes you appear desperate.

Managing reviews doesn’t take a lot of time and can make a big impact on your business. Pick one person to manage this process so you have consistency in responses and get started today.