Your business is closed due to a mandated shutdown, now what?

As the government continues to mandate the shutdowns of private businesses to curtail transmission of disease, many are left out of work. Owners are left scrambling to pay bills and still find ways of advancing their businesses. Even more, with almost the entire population in a slow down, most small businesses are going to see a contraction at both top and bottom lines. In fact, JPMorgan’s recent forecasts are calling for a recession in the United States and Euro-zone. So what are businesses now left to do?

Business managers and owners never sit idly by and let things happen to their companies. Instead, they work on vacations, weekends, and every in between to make their business as efficient and strong as possible. So for the next few months, as commerce grinds to a crawl, what are you doing to build a competitive edge?

One of the most effective ways of distancing yourself from the competition is leveraging what you are already doing so well, delivering a quality service or product. How is this achievable? It is actually a quite simple process and does not need to be a drain on time, because time is money. I am talking about review generation.

Review generation is the simple process of ask customers for reviews of their experiences with your services or products. Studies show that a majority of people will leave a review if asked. How is this leveraging? Well, the more people you ask, the more reviews you can get, and the more reviews you garner, the more convincing your rating becomes. Studies also show that 97% of people trust online reviews. Increasing your review count also helps improve your visibility online. Local search engine algorithms use reviews to help rank your business. Meaning, the more reviews and the more recent your reviews are, the better your business ranks in Google.

Why should you ask customers for reviews? First, you are guaranteed to get more reviews if you ask every customer. It is important to ask all customers to review you. Do not be afraid of the negative (we will cover this later in a separate post). Once again, the more reviews, the better in the eyes of the search engines. But not everything comes down to volume. Studies demonstrate that if you ask for reviews, your star ranking improves as well. And a 1-star rating improvement in star ranking translates to ~8% improvement in revenue. A second reason to ask for reviews comes down to the timing. We already discussed the importance of new reviews for search engines and website visibility, but consumers generally disregard reviews older than one month. So by default, you need to keep generating reviews to continuously meet consumer expectations.

Another important reason to ask for reviews is it helps control the narrative and reputation of your brand. Every brand has value, and according to research, brand value may contribute to 1/3 of the value of the S&P 100. If you are able to control the narrative around your brand, you can leverage your reputation against the competition. Consumers are willing to spend more if a company can provide them with a better experience. (Think about all the time you wait at the doctor’s office.)
You can also request where your reviews are being generated, which is important. There are dozens of review sites on the web, but not all of them have the same firepower. Google is king, with 58% of the market. By requesting where your reviews are displayed, you increase the viewing power of the review. In essence, the more people seeing your reviews, the better.

While generating reviews sounds like a time-consuming process that could be a distraction away from your business. The process can easily be automated. Through automation, you can quickly and painlessly generate the reviews needed to drive growth and build your brand’s reputation. In fact, review generation is becoming standard practice for companies of all sizes. It is a business practice where failure to act can have negative consequences on your business.

Of course, review generation is not the only component of reputation management. There are many other aspects which we will continue to cover. Our next issue will focus on review management: How to respond to reviews to improve customer loyalty and retention.

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