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Growing Your Business With Google Reviews

December 7, 2021

You know your business needs reviews. In fact, Fan & Fuel Digital Marketing Group reports that 97% of shoppers say reviews influence their buying decision. Just getting more great Google reviews is an effective way to accelerate local business growth. It amps up your reputation. It improves your search ranking, and it makes you look like a great choice for potential customers who find you.

Google reviews influence buying decision

But how do you get more reviews? What does a good review strategy look like and how can you make the process easy? In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps you need for a review strategy that dang near guarantees your business will grow.

Building a Growth Machine

A review strategy is one of the best ways to boost your online reputation. As with other disciplines of marketing, it takes some time, effort, and the right know-how to make sure you look as awesome online as you are in real life. You can implement a review strategy using nothing more than the tools you have right now, but the most successful brands invest in tools like Swell to make the whole process easy. With Swell, you’ll not only get more online reviews, but also identify ways to improve the customer experience (CX). In no time, you’ll have a powerful growth engine for your local business.

Whether you choose to tackle this process manually or use Swell to make it simple, here are some steps to follow.

1. Use Technology to Solicit Reviews

You might have a few reviews trickle in now and then organically, but do you have a process for actively gathering more? For this stage, you’ll begin asking for reviews with the goal of hitting a target for total number of reviews as well as average review score. Initially, you should be trying to get enough reviews to look trustworthy, which for many is around 20-50 (you may already be well beyond that).

optimal star rating

Next is your average review score, which should be high enough to make you look great, but not so high that you look too good to be true (some studies show that an average star rating around 4.5 is optimal). If you’ve already hit these minimums, keep reading. There’s more to the process than just getting more reviews.

Now, in terms of asking for reviews, keep these things in mind:

  • Never offer rewards for reviews – You want honest, authentic feedback from your customers. Bringing giveaways into the mix might get you disingenuous reviews.
  • Asking for Reviews in Person Sucks – Many businesses start soliciting reviews by asking customers in person. Businesses quickly find that while they get a few reviews here and there, most customers will forget to leave a review by the time they hop in their car. Some customers might even feel awkward even being asked. There’s a much better way.
people text more than call
  • Texting Review Invites Is the Tops –According to a report by Text Magic, U.S. smartphone users send and receive texts five times more than they send and receive calls. Texting is the new standard. If you can send a review invite to your customers when it’s convenient for them to leave one, and make it super easy for them to leave a review, you’ll get tons of great reviews.

2. Get a Smart Dashboard to Routinely Read Reviews

Next, you need to be in the habit of reading your reviews, replying to them, and adapting to customers’ changing needs. This is yes another task that’s made far simpler using a review platform like Swell. Your goals for this section:

  • Get in the habit of reading, replying to online reviews –If you’ve never solicited reviews, you might be surprised how often you get new reviews if you automate the process. First, assign a person or a team the task of actively monitor reviews that come in. You’ll want to check them at least once a day, but it’s best to use notifications to alert you of new reviews so you can respond as soon as possible with a thank you, or in rarer cases, an apology (we’ll talk more about this in the next section). And yes, you could do this manually inside of each review platform, but it’s cumbersome and takes a lot of time. Invest in a platform that will let you read and reply to all your reviews from one place, so you can take action ASAP.
Swell review icon
  • Make at least one weekly improvement to your business based on reviews – You might think you’re crushing it on the CX side, but if you’re soliciting reviews, you might be in for a wakeup call. For the most part, you’ll get great 4- and 5-star reviews that help boost your star rating. But you’ll also get a smattering of 3-star, or even a handful of 2 or the dreaded 1-star reviews. These aren’t a bad thing. You’ll get far more good reviews than bad ones, but the bad reviews actually alert you to things you should fix as an organization. If you get a negative review, reply quickly and courteously to try and fix the issue. Next, make note of what you can do at your business to make sure it doesn’t happen again, then follow through and fix it for good.

3. Engaging to Strengthen Your Online Reputation

Not only must you read reviews, you also need to respond to them. Your goal at this stage should be to convert customers that leave 2-star or lower reviews into loyal customers. Wait, what? That’s right.

loyal customer quote

Your goal is to turn someone who was upset into your next loyal customer. And yes—this is possible. Some reviewers will lash out in anger or frustration and to try and get your attention. If you can fix their issue quickly and fix it well (meaning, they’re over the moon based on your response) you just proved that you’re trustworthy and a great business to work with—despite a small mistake you may have made. Best of all? Since this interaction happens on your Google business listing, everyone who sees that review will know just how great you are to work with, even when you mess up. A full guide on responding to reviews is more than we have space for here (check out this post if that’s what you’re after), but here are some quick and dirty basics:

4 or 5-star reviews – Some businesses don’t reply to these at all, but it doesn’t hurt to say something kind. Usually a quick thank you will suffice (you can even use an automated template) but a personalized message might help you build even more trust with the reviewer.  

3-star reviews – These folks are lukewarm about their experience. They might not have much of a complaint, but something wasn’t quite right. Thank them for their honest feedback, and where appropriate, let them know how you intend to improve. Invite them back so they can see that you deserve more than what they gave you.

2 or 1-star reviews – These reviews deserve special care.

  1. Determine if you actually earned it. You might not always agree, but there’s no sense in getting upset. In most cases, you’ll just have to accept it and deal with it. However, if a review is abusive or violates Google’s content policy, you can flag it for removal.
  2. Find a solution. This might involve refunds, offering to re-do a service, or even offering gift cards or discounts. Whatever the case, figure out what it is you can do to make it right with the reviewer.
  3. Reply calmly and courteously. Let the reviewer know how you intend to fix the problem. If you can, offer to chat with them on the phone or in person for a more personal touch. You won’t be able to correct every issue, and yes, some people are just jerks. Instead of being upset about it, put your focus into improving your business and getting more great reviews, to balance out the bad ones.
  4. Fix the issue. If you messed up, figure out why and make sure you update policies or processes, so it never happens again.

4. Expanding Your Approach to CX

At this point, you should have the review game on lock, but there’s still more work to do. Now it’s time to explore other ways you can conveniently engage with customers and prospects and provide a better customer experience across the board. Remember, most of the following tips are made incredibly simple using a platform like Swell. In any case, here are some easy things to try:

1. Add a WebChat to your website – As we've explored, a chat tool on your website can help you begin building trust with prospects the moment they find you online. Think about it—they’ve found you online thanks to your reviews and the next logical step is to visit your website. If they have a question or just want to schedule an appointment, webchat is a great way to win their business before they decide to go somewhere else. If they can get fast answers from you, there’s a good chance they might be your next customer. Swell Webchat is an easy way to add a chat tool to your website in just a few minutes.

2. Make it easy to chat with customers – Between text messages, webchats, and Facebook messages, there’s a lot to keep track of. But your ability to engage can be the difference between happy customers and people who take their business elsewhere.

engage to keep people happy

Swell Message brings together your messages, so it’s quick and easy to answer questions or offer support whether a customer texts you, sends a chat message on your website, or even reaches out through Facebook.

3. Get detailed feedback – Online reviews are a great way to find out what customers think, but surveys take it one step further. With Swell Survey, you can send quick text-message surveys to your customers to find even more ways to improve. Sending regular surveys is a great way to constantly improve your business.

4. Make appointment scheduling easy – If your business relies on appointments, it can be a hassle for your customers to call you every time they need to schedule a visit. Instead, what if they could easily send you an appointment request on your website? It’s super easy to get people booked using Swell Schedule.

5. Give customers simpler ways to pay – If you’ve ever had to call a business to settle a bill, you know it’s a time waster. Don’t fall into this trap. It’s better to give your customers the option to pay on their phone through whatever payment method makes sense to them, whether it’s credit or debit card, bank transfer, or even mobile payments through Google or Apple. With Swell Pay, you can give your customers a simple and secure way to settle up, so they can get on with their lives.

The tips above are just a few ways you can accelerate business growth by improving the customer experience. If you’re looking for a way to get more business reviews and create a powerful growth machine for your business, consider what Swell can do for you.

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