Communicating with customers to generate jobs

Online review sites and social media serve as outlets to connect with customers.

October 3, 2017

Online review sites are a great opportunity for you to gather feedback and information from your customers. While some would argue that these sites are mostly used as a place for consumers to complain about their negative experiences with local businesses, that’s rarely the case. There are more five-star reviews than one-, two- and three-star reviews combined. This is reflective of most consumer experiences, as well.

People turn to online review sites because they want to share the great experiences they had with others and let them know where to spend their hard-earned money. Review sites are not just for consumers, though. They also provide an opportunity for businesses to insert themselves into the conversation by engaging with reviewers and expanding on the information they provide.

Think of it this way: a customer of yours, happy or not, decides to announce in front of 20 other potential customers about how their experience with your business was. Would you respond to them or simply stare blankly until they walked away? Naturally you would respond. So, here are some ways you can respond to reviews on social media and review sites.

The Positive Review: Respond to them! These customers took time out of their day to give you positive feedback online. Sending a direct message is a fast and effective way to let these happy customers know you appreciate their feedback and their business. Now and then, respond to those stellar five-star reviews publicly so potential customers know that you care and pay attention to feedback.

The Negative Review: Take this as an opportunity to grow. When it comes to a negative review, it’s easy to get upset, but successful business owners remain calm, cool and collected. If you need to give yourself 24 hours to cool off, feel free to wait so you can respond to them calmly. Then it’s time to respond and outline a plan to fix this situation.

Step 1: Respond privately to the reviewer. Try to dig in a bit and get more information about what happened. Thank them for reaching out to you and give them a way to communicate with you directly to get things resolved.

Step 2: Post a public response while you wait to hear back from the reviewer directly. This can be a generic message for the most part. Thank the reviewer for their feedback, outline steps you have taken to resolve the issue and urge them to contact you to talk further about what happened. This shows that you value feedback and want your customer experience to be exceptional. This public response is to showcase your business practices to all of your future customers. It’s not about trying to win that reviewer over.

For many consumers, online review sites are a reference point rather than a place to contribute their opinions. A 2016 Bright Local study found that 92 percent of consumers read online reviews to determine if a local business is a good business. In the digital world we live in today there is more visibility into consumer experiences and emotions through review sites and social media channels. There’s also more research done by consumers prior to making a purchase. Instead of simply asking a friend or choosing the lawn care provider their neighbor uses, people want to research their options and make the best choice for them. Review sites are where they start that search. Often, they begin their communication with your business by requesting a quote.

Users who submit requests are motivated and interested in working with you, so responding quickly to these requests can lead to higher conversion. To make things easier for yourself, create a few templates you can use to streamline your follow-up responses. Use one for confirming your interest in taking on a request and one for politely declining a job that isn’t the right fit. When you send the actual message, make it personal by adding the customer’s name and asking specific questions about the type of service they’re requesting.

Consumers turn to online review sites to determine if a local business is a good business, and managing that can be daunting. The first step is to get engaged and become a voice in the place people are talking about you. Consumers want to spend their money with people who care about their experience and by responding to your reviewers and messaging with potential customers, you’re starting that public declaration of your dedication to great customer service.

The author is manager of business outreach at Yelp.