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Businesses that sell products are known for including a lot of customer reviews in their marketing plans. In fact, it seems that the sketchier the product, the more testimonials you’ll see praising it. So, it’s easy to think of reviews for your professional services business as irrelevant or even detrimental to your reputation. Yet, client reviews can have a major impact for your success, too. Sincere testimonials can offer you three important benefits.
Professional services aren’t as easy to show off as a tangible product. You need some way to show that your services are real, legitimate, and beneficial. The best way to do it is with customer reviews. When real people who have used your services tell the online community about their experiences, it shows viewers you are an authentic provider of financial, consulting, legal, accounting or other professional services grounded in the real world.
An added bonus? When potential customers read testimonials about you, they’re more likely to become actual customers.
Ask them to talk about what they like about your company. What were their best, specific experiences? One caveat, though: never pay for a review, whether in cash or with some other perk.
Google loves user-generated content. Guess what? That’s exactly what customer reviews are. With reviews attached to your name, your business is likely to float closer to the top of the search engine results page. This works for any user-generated content on the web, including Facebook reviews, Google Maps reviews, Yelp, or sites that specialize in your particular type of professional service.
If you don’t have a Google Maps listing, get one right now. Make sure you show up on any legitimate sites that have business listings for your type of company. You also need reviews on your own website.
Whether you get positive or negative reviews, the way you respond to them shows consumers who you are as a professional. Negative reviews require a delicate approach. You have to be careful not to offend the reviewer. Pay attention to what they say and respond directly to each complaint, but do it as if they were your most valued customer. Your goal should be to offer a solution that will resolve the issue.
If you look around the web, you can find examples of companies that lash out at the customer or provide an inadequate response. Some of the review responses on TripAdvisor are priceless. Paris Walks, a company that does walking tours, got a review that said their tour guide was late for the walk. The owner replied that the reviewer was mistaken – his guides were never late. Discounting the customer experience will get you nowhere fast. Always be sure to acknowledge their complaint in an empathetic way.
One lawyer – Illinois lawyer Betty Tsamis – even went so far as to accuse the writer of a negative review of committing a crime. Not only did she make herself look petty, but she was also brought up on charges that she had betrayed the client-attorney privilege.
You may get a notification automatically when someone submits a review of your business. It depends on where the review is posted. You can also set up Google alerts to let you know when your name is associated with a negative reviewer’s name or handle. Either way, get back to them as soon as possible with an appropriate response.
At a time when virtually everyone is online, you need to make sure user-generated content that’s about you improves your reputation. If the review is negative, your helpful and empathetic response is crucial to give the review a positive spin.
About the Author
Julia Thomas is a freelance writer living and working in Kansas City, MO. In her 11 years as a freelancer, Julia has covered a wide range of subjects, primarily writing blogs, articles, ebooks and other marketing content for small to medium businesses.