80% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 92% of customers will consult online reviews before making a purchase. If you’re a shop manager or owner, here’s what these stats mean: Gathering positive customer reviews is vital to your shop’s growth and success.

If you shop doesn’t have a strategy for getting good reviews – or if your current strategy isn’t working – here’s what you need to know.

How to Cultivate Good Reviews

Repair shop

Consumers put a lot of stock in online reviews from sites such as Google and Yelp. In terms of shop growth, good reviews are good for business. But getting good reviews is easier said than done.

To start getting great reviews, here are five things you can do right away:

  1. Implement a great process for managing unhappy customers. This is vital to your shop’s review strategy, and something we’ll go into more detail about below.
  2. Ask your best customers for help. Every business has a handful of loyal, happy customers who would be glad to share a great review online. Usually, all you have to do is ask.
  3. Emphasize the importance of reviews with all customer-facing staff. Your staff might not know how important reviews are to the continued success of your company.
  4. Give your staff tools to help them request a review. Knowing that reviews are important is one thing; asking a customer for a review is another. To make asking easier, give your staff a “Review Us” postcard to hand to every satisfied customer. The card can ask for a review, list links to all the important review sites, and thank the customer in advance. This can often spur a customer to make the effort.
  5. Follow-up with everyone. Calling or emailing every customer a day or two after their visit is smart. A follow-up will remind your happiest customers that reviews help your business. It will also help catch upset customers before they leave a negative review online.

Speaking Of Bad Reviews…

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Bad reviews are…bad. No only do bad reviews discourage customers from visiting your business, they can also hurt your search engine rankings. It’s been estimated that reviews have a 10% influence on Google’s search results, moving your site up or down.

The best ways to prevent a bad review are:

  1. Give customers permission to complain. Consumers often go online to leave a bad review because they didn’t feel comfortable complaining to the shop owner or manager in person. Tell your customers that you want them to “stop” if they’re not completely satisfied. Put the “stop” language on every repair order. Hang up ‘stop’ signs in the waiting area. Make the “stop” policy part of the presentation your service writers give every new customer.
  2. Follow-up with everyone. Again, follow-up makes it easier to ‘catch’ bad reviews before they happen. Asking every customer to rate their satisfaction is a good start. If the customer’s rating is below “completely satisfied,” someone needs to investigate ‘why’ with that consumer.

These processes can’t prevent every bad review, but they can eliminate a lot of them. They also have the added benefit of making shop management easier. Customer satisfaction surveys are great for finding problems.

Responding To Bad Reviews Online – Best Practices

Computer keyboard

No matter how great your customer service, no matter how diligent your follow-up, a negative online review is inevitable.

First, it’s important to know that negative reviews have a silver lining. Consumers are suspicious of a business that doesn’t have at least a couple of bad reviews. In fact, about 80% of consumers intentionally look for a bad review before deciding to do business. A few bad reviews are actually a good thing.

Second, you never want to let a bad review go without offering a response. The key is to respond to bad reviews correctly.

  • If and when you get a negative review, respond to the review as soon as possible directly on the review website.
  • Your response should be professional and should not blame the consumer. Blaming the consumer for their bad experience often encourages them to leave even more bad reviews on other websites.
  • It’s always a good idea to apologize for the bad experience. It’s also important to state that you’re committed to customer satisfaction, and that you want to make things right. Even if this doesn’t sway the customer that left the bad review, other people reading the review will appreciate these statements.
  • Try to document the actions you take (or plan to take), mostly so that other people reading the review know that you’re making an effort to fix the issue.
  • If you suspect the review is fake, be careful. Instead of saying “This review is fake,” say “Unfortunately, we can’t find any record of someone with your name doing business at our shop. Was your repair under a different name?”
  • If you try to make things right and the customer is unreasonable, less is more. Update your reply to say something along the lines of “We tried very hard to work out a fix for this customer, going so far as to offer to [insert thing you offered], but unfortunately we just couldn’t arrive at a resolution. We regret this interaction, and we have updated our processes as a result of this incident.”
  • Most importantly, make sure your entire shop learns from a review. A 1 star rating is evidence of a failure at some level, and it’s important to find that failure and prevent it from reoccurring.

Rinse. Wash. Repeat.

Last but not least, remember that cultivating positive reviews and protecting your shop from bad reviews is a never-ending task. Try to keep your staff engaged by talking about positive reviews when they happen and rewarding the staff members who did a good job. Something simple – like buying that person lunch – can go a long way in creating a culture of customer satisfaction.

Summing up, online reviews are critical to the health and growth of every shop. A good process for encouraging positive reviews – and preventing bad reviews – is the key to long-term success.