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Michael S.

My firm was rethinking its marketing approach. Our revised plan necessitated a downsizing of the services provided by LinkNow. The LinkNow staff was very helpful in facilitating this change. There was no “hard sell” or other pressure trying to get my firm to maintain its previous higher priced plan. This was a relief and encourages us to look to LinkNow later when we are more appropriately positioned to use LinkNow’s higher priced site optimization/marketing plans.

Mike M.

I wanted to thank you for the good work LinkNow Media has been doing for Mathers Electric’s Google Listings.

I googled Electricians Tallahassee FL and we came up on the first page, real close to the top. We have a 5 star rating and 10 excellent google
Reviews. I did not see another electric company with a 5 star rating. Before I started using LinkNow Media I could not get this to happen.

No matter how much I payed other companies. We now get most of our new business from the Web (Google).

Sincerely and forever grateful, Mike Mathers

President of Mathers Electric Co., Inc.

A concept image of a magnifying glass with a wooden handle on a textured white surface showing the word authentic but magnifying the word fake resembling counterfeitting

Receiving Fake Reviews From Competitors

In this day and age, dishonest companies have been able to stoop to new lows by attempting to damage their competitor’s reputation online with fake reviews.

While it may not be immediately obvious that a competitor is attacking you, a quick check through their other reviews should give you a clue. They are likely attacking other similar businesses in the area. If negative reviews are posted on other competitor’s pages within a tight timeframe, you’ve got the start of a case.

Fake and negative reviews are tricky to deal with. Always do your research before dealing with them, or you may be responding inappropriately to someone who is simply expressing their displeasure. Remember—there is such thing as a legitimate negative review. Take these as constructive criticism, and respond politely.

Tact at All Times

When responding to a fake negative review from your competitor, practice tact at all times. Whether this negative review is legitimate or not, treat it with the same respect. Follow these steps to compose a polite and professional response:

Breathe

Literally. Breathing exercises will calm you down, so take a few deep breaths.

Don’t take it personally.

A difficult one, but part of being a professional.

Address the issue.

Start your response off by repeating their complaint. For example: I understand that you (insert situation here).

State your core values.

Inform the reviewer of your business’ core values and why they don’t match with what happened.

Make a game plan.

Tell the reviewer what you plan to do to remedy the situation. If this is a competitor leaving a fake review, you likely will not actually do this because the situation did not occur. But, existing and potential customers will appreciate seeing what you would do if it really had happened.

Say thank you.

Thank the negative reviewer for their constructive criticism and invite them back to experience your business again in a better light sometime in the future.

Even if you expect this review to be removed, there will be wait time. Writing a proper response is of value to your future clients. Don’t lose business and allow your competitor to accomplish what they came to your review page for in the first place.

Keep on Keeping on

Being a business owner will always come with its ups and downs. This is what professionalism is all about! Practice being a professional adult at all times, flag inappropriate reviews and represent yourself well.

Should Google not agree with your report, you can always escalate the situation, encourage friends and family to flag the reviews as well, and tweet @GoogleSmallBiz to hurry the process along.

Like with school yard bullying, a reaction is always what a troll wants, so give them a minimal one. In the end, you make your own reputation in the business world and can overcome anything by keeping a cool head.

How Small Businesses Should Respond to Negative Reviews

ferris wheel

When someone leaves a negative review, DON’T PANIC!

There are two reason not to panic:

  • There is probably something you can do to better the situation
  • Everyone is going to have a couple of bad reviews. You could have had a tough customer or it is possible that you made a mistake. You’re only human. However, that doesn’t mean you can sit back and do nothing.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Focus on what the person is concerned about. It may seem completely irrational but you have to remember that the customer needs to be taken seriously. Is it because of something that your company did or did not do? Is it because they did not read the fine print? Take notes.
  • Talk with your team to see what went wrong and why. Was there a misstep or are you dealing with a customer that expected more than you could deliver?
  • When you write a response, make it clear that you hear what they are saying and that you empathize with their situation.
  • Apologize and make sure it is sincere.
  • If you can make amends, then resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t try to defend yourself. It is great in a court of law but what customers want to see is how you resolve problems.
  • Write what you want to say first and then have someone else read it or give it a night and go back to it.

If You Made a Mistake

Own up to it in the response. What most people are looking for in a company is honesty. If you can show that you made an honest mistake and are willing to take steps to fix it, you will regain the trust of potential clients that read the review. This will also give you an opportunity for the client in question to give you a better review.

Make sure to keep a professional tone at all times. If you wish to go into a detailed explanation then try to do so with the client privately first. Explanations can take a lot of back and forth and since you don’t know how the customer will respond it is best to do it through email or in person.

If You Did Not Make a Mistake

It is sad to say but just as there are companies out there that cheat their customers, there are also people who try to blackmail companies into getting free services by using or threatening bad reviews.

In this case, you may just have to face the situation. They are someone who cannot be reasoned with and they just want something for nothing.  To prevent this in the future it may be a good idea to document the work you perform so you can provide a response with evidence at their accusation.  Though these proofs are best done privately through email.

Of course, be professional about it and attempt a response online as well. As long as you come off as being professional then some people who see the review will not automatically believe you are in the wrong.

In the worst-case scenario, you may have to give them something for free but that is up to your discretion.

Contact the company that the review is posted on. There may be able to remove the review if it is vilifying or defamatory.

Concentrate on Getting Positive Reviews

Make sure to ask your clients that appreciate your service to give a review on different platforms. After a job has been completed, perform call backs a while later to see that they are still satisfied. That is a great opportunity to ask for a positive review.

With enough effort, you can start to drown out the negative reviews and get yourself back on track.

There Is a Positive to This Negative

Consumers are becoming savvier with online review sites. If they see that accompany has only 5 and 4 star reviews they may become suspicious that all the comments are manufactured rather than genuine. Having a few bad ones balances out the situation and gives people the impression that you are professionals but also people.

Online Customer Review Tips for Small Business Owners

Paper ClipThere’s no denying that attracting new customers can involve a lot of effort. Unfortunately, as a business owner, it can be difficult to devote time to your digital marketing strategy. One way to bring in new business that doesn’t involve too much effort on your end is by letting your satisfied clients do the leg work. Online customer reviews are one of the most effective ways to push a person to follow through on a purchase. That means it’s well worth it to do what you can to make leaving online reviews a seamless process. After all, the more online reviews you obtain, the more likely you are to make sales. Here are 3 tips for getting the most out of your online customer reviews:

Ask for Reviews on Expensive Products

It’s a fair assumption to make that cost is a major factor holding people back. So, if you are going to encourage satisfied customers to leave online reviews, it pays to give an extra push on your more expensive products. Reviews from satisfied customers can illustrate why your product is worth every penny.

Send a Follow Up Email

Let’s face it – emails are easy to ignore. Half of them can be deleted, and the majority of them don’t demand your immediate attention. None-the-less, an email can be that extra nudge a person needs to write a review. The hard part is getting them to open that email, so it’s important that your email demands attention.

When it comes to sending out a follow up email, timing is key. You want to make sure they receive the email at the point where they have had enough time to reflect on their feelings about your product, but not past the point where they are no longer excited.

Have A Strong Call to Action

A call to action is exactly what it sounds like – it involves getting someone to perform a certain action. If that action is getting a customer to write a review you need, then you need to put yourself in their shoes. Why should someone take time out of their day to write a review? What’s in it for them? We’ve looked at the features that make a strong CTA in the past, and the same principles can be applied to getting someone to share their experience about your product or service. It’s important that you provide them with a clear and straight path to where they need to be. If writing a review involves multiple steps or filling out a form, they may be reluctant to follow through.

The Customer Is Always Right, Right? Advice for Small Businesses

teacupsLinkNow Media has written about ways of responding to negative reviews before. We’ve shown you how to handle negative reviews, and how to use positive reviews to boost your brand. Today, we’re going to take it one step further to help you understand the process and the value of analyzing your customer reviews. We’ve all heard the age old adage that “the customer is always right”, and through the careful consideration of customer feedback, you’ll see that this is true in more ways than one. Not only is it the go-to model for good customer service, it’s also the best way to approach customer reviews, negative or positive.

ABC: Always Be Changing

A stagnant business is a failing business. If you’re not consistently changing your business model to better serve your customers, your customers are heading to your competitors. This is where analysis of your reviews can be integral to success. Think of it this way, wouldn’t it be great to have a helpful coach in real time telling you what and how you could improve your business? If you approach feedback not as either congratulation or denigration, but as a roadmap to help you get where you want to go, then you’ve tapped into a very powerful resource. There are a few simple how-to’s online that can help you create a system to harness this new found resource. We recommend taking a look at this post on analyzing from CSM.

Learn From Mistakes

It’s Fine to Celebrate Success But it is More Important to Heed the Lessons of Failure.” This quote from Bill Gates is the perfect way to summarize why paying attention to customer reviews is important. Learning from your failures keeps your company moving forward and maximizing growth. That being said, it’s equally important to play to your strengths. If you notice throughout your analysis of customer reviews that you’re hearing the same things repeated in every positive review, work with that information to better market your services. You don’t want your slogan to be about speed if every bad review of your service cites long wait times, that kind of inconsistency can damage your credibility. On the other hand, if you notice that customers are responding positively to how simple it is to access your services, than focus on marketing your company as customer friendly. This doesn’t mean you get to stop implementing plans to improve on your weaknesses, but it does mean that sometimes it pays to keep on the sunny side.

These are all very simplified ideas regarding customer review analysis, but once you start critically engaging with your audience it will open up a lot of doors for your business. There are a lot of resources available to help you move forward with more advanced analytics of feedback. But today at LinkNow Media, we hope we’ve at least got you thinking, let us know in the comments below!

Are You Sharing Reviews at The Right Time?

When to postWe’ve pointed at the importance of posting positive online reviews on your business Facebook profile in a previous post. It’s a great way to reach an audience beyond your own, help your brand gain momentum, and get new clients. Today, we’re taking it one step further and looking at the best times to share. Waiting a day, or even an hour, to share a positive review with your Facebook friends can have a tremendous effect on how many people see, share, and interact with your post, so it pays to know precisely when your audience is active.

When is the best time to post on Facebook?

You may be eager to share a positive review with your Facebook friends as soon as it’s received, but this might not be the best strategy. Just because you’re most active on social media during work hours doesn’t mean your audience is. In fact, research shows that Facebook users tend to be scrolling through their newsfeed on Wednesday at 3PM. Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean 3PM on Wednesday is the best time for you.  Fortunately, Facebook offers a tool called Facebook Insights, which allows users to see when their audience is most active. With this information, you can see clearly the most effective time to post.

Use Buffer

If Facebook Insights shows that your audience is most active after you’ve already called it a night, you needn’t set an alarm – use Buffer. Buffer is a tool that shows members the best possible time to post, and unlike Facebook Insights, allows you to schedule a status update in advance. They offer a free version – it’s worth checking out.

Respond Promptly

Posting at the right time might not be enough to make you famous on Facebook overnight, but keep at it and you’re sure to see increased engagement. This means that you’ll be responding to more comments. A lot of online marketers recommend that you respond as soon you possibly can. Sure, being prompt shows that you care about what your customers are saying, but don’t let this recommendation stress you out. Feel free to enter the conversation at any point in a 24-hour period. Set aside an hour a night to make sure you’ve responded appropriately to every comment. If you don’t have time or don’t feel comfortable, enlist the help of a social media professional.

Closing

Facebook is always rolling out with new algorithms to increase relevancy and improve personalization. At LinkNow Media, we’re committed to keeping up with these updates to ensure we’re always providing the best Facebook tips! Keep stopping by!

 

 

Online Presence: Tips for Startups

start up

We’ve talked a few times about the importance of responding to online reviews. Whether you’re dealing with a favorable opinion or harsh criticism, it’s important that you acknowledge your customers and respond appropriately. However, before you can respond to any reviews, you first need to be aware that you’ve received reviews. This can be a difficult and time-consuming task for a new business owner juggling several responsibilities. Who has time to keep up with all that? Luckily, there are many tools available that will help you keep up with what people are saying about your business, such as:

Which Monitor Tool is Best?

Some of these tools are more robust than others, so you’ll want to research each one to determine which is best suited for your business. As a startup, it’s in your best interest to go with a more dynamic tool. No one knows who you are, and that means you’ll need a strong web presence from the get-go.

Why Monitoring is Important for New Businesses

People trust online reviews in the same way they trust personal recommendations, but you’re not going to earn trust overnight. Establishing solid relationships with your customers takes time and effort, and it starts online. These days, people are expecting to see a company response, so you can’t afford to not reply. This is your chance to show your customers that you are approachable and can relate to their situation, whether it’s good or bad. It’s also an opportunity to spread the word about how people can get in touch with you, whether that’s by phone, email, or social media.

Why Do You Need A Strong Online Presence?

How people perceive your company is everything, and the stakes are higher for startups. You don’t have the chance to establish yourself then transition online. You’re doing these things tandem, and it can be a lot to handle. Monitoring tools like the ones listed above can make the process of responding a lot less tedious.

Having a strong online presence is an important factor in the success of your business, and having a conversation with your customers in the comments section on review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Trip Advisor is a huge part of that. It’s unfortunate that so many startups fail in the first 5 years simply because business owners struggle when it comes to managing their online presence.

Closing

This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are always looking for new tools that help small business owners manage their online presence, so stay tuned.

4 Tips To Help You Make The Most of Your Testimonial Page

apples

If you are selling a product or providing a service, incorporating a customer testimonial page on your website should be part of your digital marketing strategy. Unbiased comments from a third party greatly increase credibility and can help a client who is on the fence choose your company over your competitor.

Once integrated, encourage satisfied clients to share their words of praise on your website. If they’re happy with your services, they’ll be happy to do so. These reviews can prompt visitors to make a purchase or encourage an already satisfied client to follow suit with a comment. Even when customer testimonials are coming in, you shouldn’t go on autopilot. There’s more you can do to drive traffic to your website. Here are some tips that will help you make the most of your testimonials:

Showcase Your Testimonials

Reviews needn’t be relegated to the testimonial page. Consider using testimonials elsewhere on your website, such as your homepage. Your homepage serves as an introduction to your company, so why toot your own horn? No one likes a bragger! Let your happy clients do the legwork.

Consider Video Testimonials

Seeing and hearing a real person talk about your company can have a greater impact than simply reading. Approach a loyal client with the idea of creating a short video about how they benefited from your service or product. Video testimonials can provide visitors with the experience they’re looking for.

Include a Visual  

Numerous studies indicate that including a human face on your website can increase conversions. This is because people often buy based on emotional factors, so an image of a person can be an effective way to connect with your audience. Including a photo of your happy customer alongside their testimonial can significantly elevate the text.

Write Testimonials For Other Companies

As the old saying goes, what goes around comes around. As a small business, you should always be looking to build relationships with other businesses in your area. If you need a professional, like a plumber or a painter, team up with someone local. If you are pleased with their services, leave a testimonial on their webpage. It’s not only a nice thing to do, but it is a great way to build links back to your website. Not to mention, they’ll be giving you a call when they’re in a pickle. It’s a win-win.

Closing

Never underestimate the power of customer reviews. If technical work isn’t in your wheelhouse, get in touch with your web designer to get the ball rolling on your testimonial page.

How Successful Companies Respond to Tweets

planeThere’s no shortage of people on the internet sharing advice on the best and worst ways to respond to negative feedback. A lot of it seems like common-sense: be kind, be prompt, offer an apology. Still, as much as fighting fire with fire seems like an obvious no-no, keeping cool can be difficult when faced with harsh criticism. Hearing nasty words about your company isn’t easy, especially when a lot of people can see it, so your gut reaction may be to go on the defense. You can brush up all you want on the do’s and don’ts, but it doesn’t change the fact that negative Tweets can often leave you at a loss for words. Likewise, even words of praise can prove difficult. How do you show your customer’s your appreciation in a way that is personable? Sometimes, it helps to take a hint from the pros.

Quick Response Times and Problem Solvers

Airlines probably get the most abuse in terms of customer reviews. Think about it, one thing goes wrong and it’s the end of the world. Travelers are often overtired, jet lagged and in a hurry to get home or begin their trip. No one writes a scathing review like an unsatisfied vacationer who has a delayed flight or missing baggage. Jet Blue usually responds to online comments within an hour. Their Twitter feed is impressive! People experiencing flight concerns, luggage hassles, Wi-Fi or boarding issues are less likely to post a negative review if they receive speedy social media replies. Sometimes a negative comment will be retracted and replaced with a positive one. As long as you show your support and demonstrate that your company is working its hardest to deliver the best services available everything will be just fine! Just use Jet Blue as your guiding Twitter source.

Always empathetic, Jet Blue demonstrates their ability to empathize with unhappy customers. In this instance, it took them 30 minutes to resolve an issue during a flight.

The Client is Always Right

A client is always right, even when they’re not. Customer satisfaction means knowing that whatever the circumstance, the client is top priority. No matter how upset, angry or insulting their feedback is; always respond professionally and empathetically. The professionalism will reflect positively on your brand and makes it easier for people to voice their opinion.

Personalized Responses

Just apologizing and directing an unsatisfied client to a helpline or saying a generic thanks to a raving review is not enough. Show your customers that what they say matters and make your replies personal. What are you more likely to respond to; a massive text for a party or a friend’s personal invite?  Exactly. You want to directly tag people, use personalized well written responses, and refrain from all things mechanical, generic and impersonal.  When you actively engage with online followers, you’ll gain more visibility and improve ratings. Zipcar is known for their positive responses to clients who are either frustrated or satisfied with services.

Have Some Fun!

Unsure on how to respond to sarcastic twitter remarks and followers poking fun at your company? First step is to not take yourselves too seriously and maybe even poke back, in a friendly sassy way! Not only will humor detract from a rude or sarcastic comment, it’ll showcase your company as a brand that knows how to have fun and can take a joke. Old Spice is known for their provocative and funny Twitter feed. They respond to ridiculous posts on a regular basis and in return end up creating a lot more visibility for themselves.

Closing

So what do you do when a disgruntled customer writes a horrible evaluation online for everyone to see? Feeling offended by a biting review is normal, but the most important thing to do is to sit back, and think to yourself; am I reacting or responding? What message am I sending out and how will this reflect on the company? If I were a distraught client, how would I want customer service to respond and what would make me feel better?  Treat others the way you would like to be treated, and you’ll be more than fine!

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