The other day, we asked for a five-star review and we got an amazing recommendation from one of our customers! You read that right: all we had to do was ask, and that five-star review bolstered our rating on Google, and it let prospective customers know that we’re great to do business with.

We ask for reviews, and we do so often. That’s because reputation management needs to constantly be assessed. You don’t want to be blindsided in case of a reputation emergency, and you need to know where you stand in the eyes of your biggest allies: your customers.

We don’t need to tell you that your customers are the front lines of your reputation for one simple reason: reviews. In 2022, your reviews can be considered more important than your ads. When you want to know what the best products and services are in your area, you read a business’s reviews before you even decide to visit their site or walk through their door. If those reviews are generally positive

But how do you assess where you stand with them and whether your business has the stellar reputation online that it deserves? It seems easier than it sounds, but it requires a consistent effort.

What are your customers saying?

The first part of reputation monitoring is to go on Google, Yelp, or a social media page and check out the reviews your customers are leaving there. Are they positive, neutral, or negative? Are you getting the same type of feedback from multiple customers?

Outside the digital world, this can be a great way to assess how your business is performing. If you need to make a tweak here or a tweak there, your customers can let you know in reviews. Does this mean that you have to take every critical review to heart? No; you already know who’s complaining to complain and who’s giving sincere feedback.

Online, it’s a map to see where you stand in the digital sphere. It can help you determine a course of action to generate the types of reviews you want. Here’s how.

Hardly any reviews?

If you Google your business or look for it on Facebook or Yelp, how many reviews are there? If there aren’t a lot, that’s bad news. Even if you have a few positive reviews, customers are looking for a trusted, established place to do business with, so they’re more likely to gravitate to a place with more reviews, even if some of those reviews are negative.

To combat a scarcity of reviews, ask! Your customers are more willing than you think to leave a glowing review if they had a great experience. There are a ton of ways you can ask, too, from a social media post to a sign in your store.

Tons of glowing reviews

Jackpot! This is where you want to be. However, getting there is only half the battle. You need to keep up the momentum. Keep asking your customers for glowing reviews. That way, your reviews will stay current. Think about it: if a business has a bunch of glowing reviews, but they’re all from 2013, are you going to trust those reviews as a trustworthy source? Probably, you’re going to wonder how their business is doing lately.

Also, consider the best way to keep reviews coming. It’s not just asking. When someone pays you a compliment, the first thing you should do is thank them. When you receive a positive review, you should always respond with a simple thanks for their support. It only takes a minute!

Your reviews are terrible

Everyone receives that one nasty review from time to time. However, if your reviews are generally bad or mediocre, you need to do some digging.

Are the reviews addressing the same issue? If so, you need to figure out what’s going on and most likely, make some changes in your organization stat! After, consider announcing what’s changing at your business. You don’t need to be over-apologetic; all you need to do is say that you received X feedback and the following changes are coming down the pipe.

If the reviews are unwarranted, like in an attack on your business, you can “flag” the review as inappropriate so your platform’s administrators can remove it. Keep in mind: not all platforms will allow you to take down negative reviews; others will only take down the reviews after a moderator has reviewed it and determined that it violates their terms. If the platform won’t take down negative reviews, the only thing you can do is garner more positive reviews to balance out the negative ones, and if appropriate, constructively address any negative reviews you did receive.

Responsiveness is key

For the positive reviews you do receive, again, showing that you’re thankful is key. Not only because it’s good manners, but it shows that you are paying attention to your online reputation and really listening to what your customers are saying.

As search engines and review sites are gearing more towards engagement, responding to negative and positive reviews is also a matter of SEO. With Google’s new business platform, they’re counting customer engagement in their rankings more, so replying to reviews kills two birds with one stone: you show the world that you care about your customers and respond to feedback, and you position yourself to go higher in the rankings.

Reach out to your customer fan base and really encourage them to leave a positive review. You can even turn your campaign for building and maintaining great reviews into a promotion by making it into an offer: take X% off certain goods or services for leaving a five-star review.

Now, we’re turning the offer around on you: how are your reviews? If it seems too daunting to answer all of your reviews and you need a low-cost solution fast, we have one! If you’re a Local Search Optimization customer with us called Local Plus. For $50 per month, we’ll respond to ALL of your Google Reviews: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Contact us at (248) 684-0500 to get started!