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Online reviews can help or hurt a business

Online reviews
Online reviews can help or hurt a business tremendously. Owners should engage their champions to get positive reviews, and impress on their employees the importance of customer service to avoid bad reviews.

Do you do business with people you know and like? Of course you do. Do you want to help them out? Of course you do.

Google reviews, reviews on Facebook or Yelp are simple ways you can help out the businesses you do business with. If you get great customer service or a good meal or if a business goes above and beyond to help you, you should absolutely reward them by telling other people. It’s a good deed you can do to help folks you do business with.

We’re all familiar with the horrible negative reviews that businesses sometimes get – negative reviews that can go viral. Most folks have probably had a bad experience that made them think pretty hard about leaving a negative review, and that’s perfectly reasonable.

But most of us don’t think about how a positive review can help and reward a business that has been good to us.

In the research we do for Mooncalf Press, we’ve found that people tend to go to the internet to find 8 to 10 pieces of information about a company or product before making a buying decision.

Sometimes that’s asking friends on social media for experiences. Most of the time it involves at least a visit to the company’s website. Often, they’re reading reviews.

Reviews also help kick a business up the chain in search engines.

When you write a review, it doesn’t have to be long and you don’t have to worry too much about creating a piece of prose that would make Faulkner jealous. Just be specific. Talk about what you appreciated about the business.

If they are online, every business can get reviews on Google. Today I left a online review on Google for my accounting firm because I really appreciate how they’re taking care of me. I’ve had experiences with accountants who didn’t seem to appreciate or need or want my business, and the result was that taxes were worse than they had to be. He’d help me out if I was in trouble, but he was never proactive in making sure I got done what needed to be done. My new accounting firm, though I’ve only been using them for a few months, has been ahead of the game – I’ve gotten three emails and a phone call warning me of deadlines and instructing me about what they needed.

Especially if it’s a small business with only a few online reviews, this is a very thoughtful way that you can help out a company you appreciate and reward them for a job well done.

If you own a business, put a sign on your counter asking customers to give you a review on Google. Don’t be afraid to ask for it, because most people won’t think to do it themselves.

Obviously, as a content marketing company working in Athens, Georgia and Gwinnett County, Georgia, we advise our clients all the time that the content they produce is important and valuable to them for building their business, and that’s true. Remember 8 to 10 pieces of content are what people are looking for before making a buying decision, and the kinds of compelling, shareable content we produce will help you bring customers through your door.

However, the content other people are willing to produce about you – through online reviews – is also very important.

For business owners, the lesson is to treat every customer or client like that person is going to leave your business and write your next review.

Reviews are something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit over the past couple of days. Two things have happened recently that have me thinking about online reviews, and they are both instructive.

A couple of days ago I asked my friends on Facebook who have read and enjoyed one of my novels (yes, in addition to writing great content for small businesses to use in their marketing efforts, I also publish a series of historical fiction novels) to leave reviews at Amazon.

Someone responded by leaving a five-star review under the name “Marshawn Lynch” that said only, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.”

I don’t know what the intent was. Maybe it was someone trying to be funny. Maybe it was someone who genuinely thought they were helping me by leaving five stars and they couldn’t think of anything else to say. But to potential readers, that’s not the kind of review that will be helpful or convince them to buy one of my books. It bothered me when I read it because I don’t think it will be helpful to me. I hope it’s not the kind of review that will make people decide not to buy my book.

On the same day, a friend on Facebook posted her dissatisfaction about a restaurant where she regularly eats. She complained about the quality of the food and the quality of the service. The restaurant owner can be glad it wasn’t left as a review and was only a Facebook post, but too many of those kinds of Facebook posts, and diners may find that this restaurant that has had a good reputation in the community suddenly has a shorter wait.

Reviews on the internet are powerful. They can significantly help or destroy a business, and I know a lot of business owners who lose sleep at night over reviews.

So, if you’re going to leave a review, try to put at least some thought behind it. Remember, other people may make a buying decision based on what you write. The business you are reviewing can be helped or hurt by the review you leave.

And as a business owner, you’ve got to give your employees training so that they understand that poor service is unacceptable. Customers and clients have a tool in online reviews that consumers haven’t had in the past. These reviews last a long, long time. Make certain you’re doing everything on your end to ensure the reputation others give you is a good one. People will understand a couple of negative online reviews, but if those start to pile up, you need to take a serious look at how you’re doing business.