Review sites like Yelp®, Google Places® and Yellow Pages® are the online world's No. 1 source for local business recommendations. Chances are someone, somewhere, has talked about your business's products and services — and local review sites make it easy to find out what customers really think.
Local reviews influence who people do business with because they enable customers to publicly share their experiences (positive or negative) for others to see…millions of others, including potential customers. If you're on the fence about listing your business on local review sites, consider:
What's in it for me and my business?
If you think only customers benefit from customer reviews, think again. Local review sites give customers another way to find businesses. The millions of people who use these sites can gain their first exposure to your business through them. Let the well-known local review sites lead customers to you!
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Why are local reviews important?
Third-party local review sites let real people who use your products and services write reviews about their experiences. This feedback gives potential customers an honest idea of what they can expect from you and your company. With so many local products and services to choose from, customers like to do research before doing business with a company-- and there is one group of critics they trust the most: other customers.
Do I need to have a brick-and-mortar store to create a business profile?
No. All you need is a business. If you own a business, chances are you are being reviewed by past and current customers on local review sites. These sites make it possible for customers to create business pages and review your company without your consent. Which is why it's a smart idea to manage your account for positive or negative feedback — every business should know how it's doing!
Can I ask happy customers to write reviews?
Of course! If you have a customer who's satisfied with their service, ask them to leave feedback on your business's review profile. It’s a FREE, easy way to get positive reviews.
UPDATE: We got some great feedback from @POWRSURG about Yelp's policy about soliciting reviews from customers. You should tread lightly. We're more about reminding happy customers that your business is listed on various review sites in case they're interested in leaving feedback...and not at all about demanding a review before they leave your store. Lesson learned here: Forced reviews can do more harm than good.
How do I address negative reviews?
Negative reviews aren't always bad — think of them as learning tools for improving your business. Local reviews let you respond to customer feedback, and if you choose to address their concerns or follow up with a customer to fix their issue, you can earn confidence and trust from potential customers. Making changes in response to negative feedback demonstrates that you are listening to your customers, and that you want to make sure they are satisfied. You want your customers to know that they are heard and important.
Local review sites are powerful allies in your plan for online success. Take advantage of them! Spend time thanking your customers for their positive reviews, and addressing negative comments, to show potential customers that you take feedback seriously.