It can be a serious management mistake to ignore online reviews.

Woman working at desktop computerEver turn to Yelp to find a restaurant? TripAdvisor to find a hotel? Angie’s List to find someone to work on your home? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Pew Research Center, over 80% of U.S. adults always or sometimes check online reviews before making a decision about where and how to spend their money.1 Clearly, for consumers, these reviews are important. But how important are they to your business? The answer is: very.

How Much Influence Do Online Reviews Have?

In its study, Pew found that over half of U.S. adults believe online reviews give an accurate picture, and most believe online reviews are more beneficial to the public than government oversight. These statistics indicate that a large number of consumers consider reviews to be similar to a referral from a trusted friend. And the power of referrals are well-known. In general, referrals account for 65% of all new business, with those who’ve been referred being four times more likely to make a purchase than those who weren’t referred.2

If you want to improve your business’s earnings, good online reviews are likely to help. Similarly, if you want to avoid losses, avoiding bad online reviews is a good step to take. The trick is knowing how best to influence your online reviews.

How Can You Make Online Reviews Work for You?

Writing fake online reviews for your own business is a form of fraud. This means that the only legal way you can improve the usefulness of your reviews is by attracting more positive reviews from legitimate customers. To do this, you can take the following steps.

Solicit Reviews

There’s nothing wrong with asking your customers to post a review on Yelp, Yahoo, Angie’s List, or any other review site. If you believe in your business, you shouldn’t be afraid that the reviews will be bad. And even if a few reviews do end up being negative, getting business out of online reviews is partly a numbers game. The more reviews a business has, the more people trust the aggregate opinion. One bad review and nine good ones is much better than no reviews at all.

Respond to Reviews

If a customer shows up at your door to complain, you’re likely to engage with them and try to fix whatever is wrong. The same principle can apply to negative online reviews. If the review site permits, you can contact the customer directly to address the complaint. Or you can respond on the forum itself. Just remember, a response shouldn’t be a defense. You gain little by claiming the complaint is wrong. Instead, offer apologies, some form of recompense, and/or assurances that your business has a plan in place to improve. If you don’t feel an apologetic response is warranted, it’s best not to respond at all.

Take Action Based on Reviews

A negative review is an opportunity to read unfiltered feedback. If you treat negative reviews as constructive, you can use them to modify your service, your product, or any other aspect of your business. Even positive reviews might include a critique you can use to make your business better. But don’t go overboard based on one or two reviews. Only take action if the complaint feels accurate, or if a significant number of customers have the same criticism. Taking smart action based on online reviews is a great way to improve your business, and your future reviews.

How Can You Learn More About Business Management?

Modern technology is changing how businesses operate. If you want to prepare for the future and put yourself in a better position to manage your or someone else’s business, consider earning a business administration degree. If you don’t yet hold a bachelor’s degree, take a look at a BS in Business Administration program. If you already hold a business degree, management degree, or any other bachelor’s degree, explore a Master of Business Administration (MBA degree) program.

While you might think attending one of the best business schools or a top MBA program would take too much time away from running your business or focusing on your career, online education can make earning a bachelor of business administration or master of business administration a real possibility. That’s because, with online learning, you don’t have to disrupt your life to attend school.

Through an online bachelor’s degree program or an online graduate degree program, you can complete the majority of your coursework right from home. Additionally, earning a bachelor’s in business administration online or an MBA online can make it possible for you to work full time. Instead of attending classes at a set time on set days, an online BS in Business administration program or an online MBA program will allow you to choose when to attend classes and handle coursework.

If you want to better understand modern consumer habits and the use of technology in business, a bachelor of science in business administration or a master’s in business administration can help you gain the knowledge you need. And the right online university can make earning your degree possible.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a BS in Business Administration degree and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.

1 Source: www.pewinternet.org/2016/12/19/online-reviews
2 Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/agency/worried-online-reputation

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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