There is a clear trend of people becoming more comfortable relying on the Internet and technology to function throughout their normal day-to-day activities. One of the most important changes that has occurred from the perspective of the business is the consumer’s reliance on technology when it comes to their purchasing decisions.

Year-by-year, we are seeing a greater number of people rely on online reviews to help them make their purchasing decisions. In the graph below, we see an 8% increase of people that use the Internet in some capacity to help them find local businesses on a daily basis from 2013 to 2014. That total more than doubled from the year before.

Why Are People Turning to The Internet?

There are two reasons why people are turning to the Internet more and more to help with their local business needs.

It’s Convenient

In the past, not everyone had smart phones and access to wireless Internet, which made it impossible for them to be able to research local businesses and reviews on the fly. Fast forward to today, everyone has that capability now. Review services are popping up all over the place and people are becoming more reliant than ever on them.

Reviews from Their Peers Can Be Trusted

People are relying on customer reviews more than ever to help with their purchasing and shopping decisions. From restaurants to brick-and-mortar repair shops, people want to know what other consumers are recommended for them to use. The more reviews a business has, the more likely a potential customer will trust that they are getting the best service from that company.

How Do Reviews for Local Businesses Help?

Reviews for local businesses will help with how the consumer view your business on the local listings on Google and other review sites. In general, more positive reviews you have, the more likely consumers will be doing business with you.

Reviews Will Increase the Chances That Consumers Click on Your Site

The higher your business is in the local listings, the more likely a consumer will be to click on your website as opposed to one of your competitors. This is a highly effective way to grab the attention of neutral consumers before your competitors can get to them.

Reviews Will Have an Impact on Consumer Decisions

The amount of reviews you have will impact the trust that a consumer will have towards your business. In a world where they are used to seeing reviews about every type of company, it will be hard for them to trust your company if they can’t find any reviews coming from their peers about it. Having reviews and a strong presence online plays a critical role in the success of any local business despite how often it is ignored by business owners.

Looking at It from The Consumer’s Perspective

These days, virtually everyone has access to the Internet and it’s sitting right in their pocket. This means they have the ability to instantly pull up reviews of any business within seconds. When they are deciding between two services, they can pull up reviews and find their answer in a matter of minutes. If they are out shopping, they can compare prices on the same products being sold at different stores in real time.

When you look at it from the consumer’s perspective, reviews are one of the most important tools that were used to decide whether to do business with you or not. This is why it is so important to have a good profile of reviews available for consumers to look through.

How to Get More Reviews

Fortunately, you can increase the number of reviews that you have about your business online simply by asking. Below, we have a few tips that you can follow to increase your business reviews for Google and Facebook.

Set Up Your Online Profiles

Set up all of your online profiles so that people will be able to find you easily. You should have your business listed on Yelp, Google Places, True Local, and anywhere else that’s relevant depending on your industry.

Ask Your Customers for Reviews

The most important advice that we can give you is to ask your customers for reviews. You will be surprised at the amount of positive feedback you will receive when you do this.

When you do this, it is important to avoid trying to sway their view in one direction or another. People will tend to push back against this approach. Instead, ask them to leave you a review at the end of their transaction and leave it at that.

If you want to increase the number of reviews that you get, you can print up a card with your review profiles on it, or have an employee stationed by the exit to remind your customers to leave a review if they are interested.

Don’t Make It a Difficult Process

If you want as many reviews as possible, make it as easy as you can for them. The typical customer will be happy to leave a good review; however, they aren’t going to bend over backwards to do that for you.

The easier it is for them, the more likely they will be to leave a review. Give them information on where to find review sites for your business, or even offer them a place to write their review out by hand. Many businesses put up a review box for customers to leave on their way out.

Be Active on Your Facebook Page

Set up a Facebook business page and begin promoting it within your community. Once it is set up, continue to use it actively. This will keep people that follow your page interested and reminded about your business. When your business is on their mind, they will be more likely to remember you the next time they are in need of the service that you offer.

Protecting Your Business Against Negative Reviews

As we all know, you can’t please everyone. No matter how many steps you take to provide your customers with the best possible experience, there will always be some people that have a bad experience dealing with your company.

Ideally, we would like to only ask our satisfied customers for their reviews, however, that is not realistic or genuine. Even though it may seem like taking steps to increase the amount of online reviews you have may greatly increase the negative reviews you receive, you would be surprised how rarely that is the case.

In most cases, asking for customer reviews will make a dramatic difference in the number of positive reviews you receive, while minimising the impact that the existing negative reviews have about your company. There are a few reasons for this.

When a customer has a good experience, they are more likely to review your business when asked

When a customer has a bad experience, they are more likely to review your business on their own

As a general rule of thumb, people that have a bad experience with your company will be more likely to leave a review of your company than someone that has a positive experience with it. If the customer is upset, it will typically motivate them to find out how they can make your company pay for their bad experience they had in dealing with you.

Logically, the first place they will look to get this revenge will be through online reviews in the hopes that other people see their review and choose not to do business with your company anymore along with them.

If they have a positive experience with you, hey are not necessarily going to seek out ways they can reward your company for it. They will certainly be more likely to use your business again in the future, however, there is nothing motivating them to leave a review for your company.

Get as Many Reviews as You Can

This is why asking any and all of your customers for reviews will almost always have a positive result for your business. When you do this, you are not going to gain a lot of negative reviews like you may think. At the same time, you will gain a lot of positive reviews. This will change the ratio of good reviews verse bad reviews towards the positive side.

With more positive reviews coming in for your business, it will improve the ratio of good versus bad reviews for your company. It will water down the bad reviews and new customers will be more likely to dismiss them and instead, focus on the more frequent positive reviews that they are coming across.

Asking your customers for online reviews is a great way to proactively protect your business. By flooding your business with what should turn out to be a high percentage of good reviews, it will minimise any impact existing or future bad reviews will have on your business.