Imagine one day you’re exploring a new city. You’ve been out exploring all day and now your stomach is growling. It’s time to eat, but you’re not sure where to go and you don’t want to miss out on some of the top-rated cuisines in the area. So, you pull out your phone and open Google.
After searching for “top restaurants near me,” a list of restaurants show up displayed in a box above the rest of the search results.
The pressure is on. You only have one chance to choose the right restaurant – how on earth are you going to select the right one?
You read the reviews.
Understanding Google Business Reviews
According to a series of experiments conducted by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, it takes 1/10 of a second to make a first impression. This means that almost immediately after interacting with a person or business, you begin to form a basic idea of how you feel about them.
This statistic is both scary and exciting when you consider Google is where most potential customers make their first impressions.
Today, most consumers turn to Google to solve many of their problems ranging from local boutique recommendations to the latest Seahawks score. If you’re not showing up where your potential customers are asking for you, you’re missing out on a big opportunity.
There are so many benefits for local businesses to focus on generating Google business reviews:
- Get your business listed more prominently on Google maps
- Get found on regular Google searches more frequently
- Answer all your potential customers’ questions up front (i.e. hours, menu, etc.)
- Provide social proof that what you have to offer is worth a visit
In the digital era, people are turning to Google for their recommendations on where to spend their time and money. That means if you’re a local business that wants to be found by your potential customers (and we assume you do!), it’s a good idea to start collecting those reviews.
Getting Google Reviews for Your Business
Now it’s time to answer the almighty question of, “how do I get these coveted words on my Google Business page?” We’re going to be upfront and let you know it’s not easy and it doesn’t happen overnight.
If you search “how to get more Google reviews”, you’ll run into ads from companies claiming to get you reviews quick and easy. While you can try that route, there are so many better, cheaper, and more authentic ways to gather this valuable content from your customers.
So, how do you get reviews? Well, all you have to do is ask. That’s it!
Just kidding. Of course, that is the basic premise, but there are better ways to ask than others. So, let’s break that down for you in just three basic steps.
1. Leave a Lasting Impression
Think back to a time when you had an amazing experience. We’re not just talking about a “pretty good” interaction, but rather a life-changing “oh wow, this was so incredible that I need to tell everyone about it” kind of experience.
The best review is one that is honest and unbiased by templates or incentives. We do not recommend incentivizing your customers to leave a review. Not only will they potentially skew the honesty of the review, but the practice is also against Google’s guidelines. Instead, make them so happy with their experience they can’t help but want to help you out.
One of the best ways to get your customers to leave a Google review is to make a lasting impression on them before, during, and even after doing business with you. It’s a simple idea, but it can be much easier said than done.
Leaving a positive impression on your customers requires thinking out of the box and going out of your way to go above and beyond their expectations. A few ways you can delight your customers include:
- Answering their questions up front with authenticity
- Solving their problems
- Doing what you can to help them reach their goals
- Stay positive and enthusiastic throughout the process
- Exceeding their expectations with your products and services
The golden rule is this: help people and they’ll help you. Show them you care about them beyond just a dollar sign on a spreadsheet. Your customers are people and they deserve to be treated as such. When that happens, they’ll be delighted to turn around and support you.
2. Make it as Easy as Possible
How many times have you been handed a receipt at a retail store with the bottom portion circled by the retail associate and a monotone request to “review us for a chance to win a $500 gift card” only to go home, throw away the receipt, and forget about it altogether?
We want to see hands raised here – we’ve all done it.
While this method might catch a shopper who wants that $500 gift card badly enough to remember to do it when they get home – or even while they’re still at the store if they’re really dedicated – there’s a reason why it doesn’t work so great.
We as a culture have gotten lazy – why spend 10 minutes answering questions when we can watch the latest show on Netflix instead?
The key here is to make the process so easy, simple, and fast that it’s hard to say no. There are a couple ways you can pull this off in a way that’s also easy for you and your team.
1st Method – Send the link directly
- Google your business
- Click “Write a review” on your business listing
- Copy and paste the URL you see in your address bar
- Send an email asking your customer to write a review
- BONUS: If you want to track how many people click on your link, you can use a free link shortener/tracker such as bit.ly to shorten the link and keep tabs on its success.
2nd Method – Save time and automate the process
- Download our free Odd Dog Review app on your and your employee’s phones
- Register your business for a free unique company code
- Tap a button and a custom link will be texted/emailed to your customer right on the spot
- Go home knowing that a new authentic review has just been added to your business listing
With our app, it’s easy to send a link to the review right on the spot, even if you operate in multiple locations. Once your employees have downloaded it, they can send a custom link to your customers’ phones within seconds of completing their transaction.
Not only does this give you a better chance of getting that Google review even before they leave, but you will also be able to capitalize on the personal connection that your employees have established with the customer.
How often do you ignore that automated corporate email that arrives in your inbox 1-2 days after the transaction is complete? It’s much more personal when your employees can include it in their face-to-face conversation right after they’ve saved the day.
3. Send a Follow-up/Reminder
Now that the transaction is complete, your customer has walked away satisfied with their experience, and you’ve asked them to send you a review, what’s next?
If you haven’t received a review within a few days of requesting one, it’s likely your customer has gone home and forgotten to do so. This is a good time to send a quick reminder email or text, checking in with them.
In your outreach, don’t make it all about the review. Instead, connect with them over a conversation. Find out how your service has solved their problems and, if you can, follow up with anything personal they might have shared with you.
With any luck, this conversation may even turn into the perfect review they can then just copy and paste into the textbox at the link you sent them previously.
On the other hand, you may have a brand new customer review sitting on your Google business page. This is a good time to send a quick thank you note and leave a response.
Responding to Google Reviews
Congratulations! If you’ve done everything correctly, you now have new reviews sitting on your Google Business page. However, it’s not time to call it a day just yet.
Open up a new tab, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to respond to the reviews you now have. This creates a flow of two-way communication between you and your customers that will build deeper connections. Plus, it shows the community you are engaged and willing to step out of your way to keep the conversation going.
Note: Before you can respond to your Google reviews, you must claim and verify your business page. We walk you through how to do that on our Guide to Google My Business pages for 2018.
When responding to feedback, it’s possible you’ll encounter both positive and negative reviews. While it’s tempting to only respond to the positive ones, it’s almost even more important to put the focus on the negative feedback and do your best to turn it around.
Beyond that, remember you’re not only responding to the one person who left the review, but you’re also responding to the thousands of people who will read this review and your response over the coming years.
So, how do you respond to a negative review? The first step is to take a step back once you’ve read the review and check your emotions. Oftentimes, negative feedback from a customer can feel like a direct hit to you as a person. Before you make your response, it’s best to clear your head and separate yourself from the feedback.
Once your emotions are in check, it’s time to draft up the right response. There are many ways to do this and your response will vary based on the content of the review, but here are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind while you write it:
- Start by showing appreciation for the feedback – Take a moment to thank the writer for leaving a review. Even negative reviews give you a chance to respond and restore your company’s reputation.
- Reinforce any positive aspects of the review – In many cases, there will be at least one positive point hidden in the review. Highlight those for your readers.
- Address negative aspects directly – Explain the situation and what you will do to correct it. Then you must follow through on what you have promised. Use this as an opportunity to improve your operations and customer service.
- Invite the customer back – If there’s a timeframe for when these improvements will be made, tell them! Invite them to come back once you’ve done what you can to improve the experience.
Throughout the response, do your best to maintain a calm and objective tone. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. You will be tempted to say, “You’re wrong! There’s nothing wrong with us,” and in some cases, that may very well be true. But in responding to reviews, it’s not about who’s wrong or right, but instead, what you can do to rectify the situation.
In summary, the more professional, appreciative and helpful you are, the more confidence future readers will have that you will do everything in your power to correct the issue that gave someone a negative experience.
As you can see, getting Google reviews for your business is not only important to building your online reputation but can also act as a tool to establish brand loyalty and form connections with current and potential customers. Once you have a routine in place and the right tools to guide you, collecting reviews from your customers will become like second nature.