By Zev Herman, president of Superior Lighting.
Back in the day, small businesses relied on word-of-mouth for business success. Today, word-of-mouth is not necessary for consumers to find businesses, thanks to the internet and other advancements in technology, transportation and communication. Consumers can find companies located near them and on the other side of the globe with relative ease.
Nevertheless, the word-of-mouth concept is not dead -- it has simply adapted to the change in how businesses and shoppers operate. Think about it: Consumers still value what other people have to say about businesses, products and other people. What's changed is how people get that information.
It Starts With Customer Reviews
Not every business utilizes customer reviews like they should. Sometimes, businesses don't need reviews because they get business regardless. But for small businesses, customer reviews are important and can make or break a business.
If you get too many one-star customer ratings on Yelp or another review platform, it can hurt your business. If there aren't a lot of ratings for your business but there are a high number of positive ratings for your competitors, it may cause you to lose business to companies that are in direct competition with you.
As the owner of a small business, I've found that to be successful, your customers must always be your top priority. This means making your customers happy, which translates to listening to them and prioritizing their needs. One way to do this is to pay attention to customer reviews.
Step One: Make It Easy for Customers to Review Your Business
Before you can use customer reviews to your advantage, you have to get customer reviews. It's easy enough to utilize customer review platforms, like Yelp -- all you have to do is claim your business. But you also have to encourage customers to leave reviews, because it's easy for them to dismiss doing something that takes time. You can do a lot with customer reviews once you have them.
One easy way to encourage customers to leave reviews for your business and products is to implement review management software. This allows you to pre-screen customers. For example, did they have a positive or negative experience with your business? The software then directs customers to the appropriate review platform.
Once you have plenty of positive reviews, take advantage of them! Share them on your website and social media channels. Send them out in your company's monthly newsletter. Do whatever you want to do with them, but one thing you should definitely do is respond to the reviews.
Step Two: Let Your Customers Know You Hear Them
Customers like to be acknowledged. If they leave a negative review of your business or product, respond to them in a positive way: Ask them how you can make their experience better in the future. Respond, even if their experience was positive. Thank them for the positive review and share it wherever you want other customers to see it. This shows that you put your customers first.
Step Three: Take Customer Reviews One Step Further
Getting customers to leave reviews -- and sharing positive ones for the world to see -- is an amazing accomplishment. If you do this regularly for your business, then you're doing great, but you can do more. Most businesses value their customers because, without them, there would be no business.
Something we have done is use customers' positive experiences to our advantage to create case studies and customer spotlight videos. We put time and money into making videos of our clients saying good things about their experiences with us, then shared the videos with everyone who subscribed to our monthly newsletter. We also built case studies for our company, because although this is more focused on us than the clients, it shows what we can do and how our products and services benefit customers.
Consider adopting similar approaches to take your positive testimonials even further for your business.
As president of Superior Lighting, Zev Herman focuses on growing a wholesale light bulb and lighting business.