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Online Customer Reviews:
How to Get Customer Feedback Online
All small businesses should know how to get customer feedback online. According to Forbes, “the single most important thing you can do to attract new customers,” if you run a small or locally-owned business, “is [taking] control of your online review score.”
Knowing how to get customer feedback online is especially important for businesses like medical spas, cosmetic dentists, or healthcare professionals specializing in aesthetics.
HOW REVIEWS IMPACT YOUR BOTTOM LINE
Receiving reviews on Google, Facebook, and Yelp, attract more customers, which ultimately leads to making more money for three reasons:
Reviews provide social proof.
Reviews build your brand + establish trust.
Reviews improve your local SEO.
Medstar Media covers these three incentives and other crucial factors you need to know about online review management in this article.
ARTICLE TABLE OF CONTENTS:
WHY ONLINE REVIEWS MATTER
Online reviews are a vital form of marketing. According to Tom Seery, CEO and founder of Realself, “Reviews drive practice economics. Think of them as a form of advertising, the most believable form there is.” Seery is referring to the form of marketing known as “social proof.”
ONLINE REVIEWS CREATE “SOCIAL PROOF”
“Social proof” is a concept first coined in 1984 by psychologist Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. The term refers to the psychological and social phenomenon when a person who has a choice to make considers the actions of others to help in the decision-making process.
Examples of social proof in marketing include:
- An expert’s endorsement (think Dr. Oz or anyone else considered a “professional” or “expert.”)
- A celebrity or influencer endorsement (think of Debra Messing as CoolSculpting’s spokesperson.)
- Consumer-generated-content (CAG) (think of customers who post videos of their muscles twitching while receiving an Emsculpt treatment.)
- The number of followers, likes, or views received on social media
- Customer reviews and testimonials (Customer reviews refer to feedback left on consumer review websites. Testimonials refer to sentiments posted on your website.
These are just a few examples of social proof in marketing. In this article, we’ll focus on how to get customer feedback online. Because, in today’s digital age, online reviews are now a powerful form of social proof your small business cannot afford to ignore.
STATISTICS ABOUT ONLINE REVIEWS
Just check out a few of these statistics that demonstrate online reviews’ influence on a person’s purchasing decision.
91% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
-Bright Local’s Local Consumer Survey
Every one-star increase your business gets on Yelp correlates to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
– Harvard Business Review
According to Yotpo’s Beauty Industry Trends Report, the number one factor (at 60%) that convinces women to make discretionary purchases [on beauty or aesthetic products or services] is positive customer reviews
The most trusted example of social proof is the online beauty review.
- 44.7% of women feel customer reviews are their biggest influence in purchasing a specific brand.
- Referrals from friends come in second at 44.5%.
In this instance, both examples of social proof outpaced:
- TV commercials (17.7%).
- Digital and social media ads (10.2%).
- Offline ads (6.8%).
The likelihood of purchasing a product increases by 270% when it gets five reviews.
– The Spiegel Research Center
When reviews are displayed for higher-priced products, their conversion rate increases by 380%. In contrast, reviews shown for lower-priced products increased by 190%.
The importance of consumer reviews varies for diverse types of businesses. For example, according to Bright Local’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2022, consumers care more about reviews for businesses that provide services than businesses that offer products, dining, or entertainment.
Businesses that are infrequently needed, sell expensive services, or come with some risk, are far more vulnerable to public scrutiny than restaurants or supermarkets.
Basically, beauty reviews are more influential than restaurant reviews.
ONLINE REVIEWS BUILD YOUR BRAND + ESTABLISH TRUST
In addition to encouraging others to choose an aesthetic treatment, online reviews establish your brand and build consumer trust.
Brand awareness is critical when running a business in a saturated market, like aesthetics. When competing against other dentists, doctors, or medical spas, you must market yourself and the services/treatments you offer.
Online review websites provide a good opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition. This is crucial for capturing leads further down the sales funnel. Once someone decides they want a service, like CoolSculpting, Lasik, or Invisalign, they then shop providers. Most turn to their favorite online review site to find the best provider in their area.
Potential patrons want to see customer feedback that speaks to:
- A business’ commitment to customer satisfaction
- The provider’s skill and expertise.
- The business’ reputation for delivering results
COMMUNITY OUTREACH BY RESPONDING TO REVIEWS
In addition to edging out the competition, review websites provide a platform to interact with your customers. Online reviews are a two-way street. Google, Facebook, and Yelp permit business owners to respond to customers’ online feedback. This online communication develops rapport, exposes a business’ personality, and establishes consumer trust.
We go over the importance of responding to online customer feedback later in the article.
LOCAL SEARCH RANKING
Online reviews factor into a business’s local search ranking. Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the results generated when someone searches with local intent, like “medspas near me” or “Medspas in Dallas.”) Google’s local search results appear in the “local pack,” maps, or “knowledge panel” on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP.) Local results are placed below the ads but above organic results. Clearly, local SEO claims valuable real estate on SERPs.
According to HubSpot, nearly half of all searches on Google have “local intent.” Showing up in local search results is especially important. This is especially true for small businesses operating in a competitive market. Just consider that brands listed in Google’s local 3-pack receive 700% more clicks than brands that don’t.
HOW TO IMPROVE LOCAL SEO
According to Google, “Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence.” Prominence refers to a business’s reputation within the community.
Google draws upon several “factors” to determine a business’ “prominence.” One factor is customer feedback posted on Google reviews. According to the search engine, “Google review count and review score factor into local search ranking. More reviews and positive ratings can improve your business’s local ranking.”
MOZ’s 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey estimates that online reviews account for 15.44% of how Google ranks a business in local search results.
THE DIFFERENT ONLINE REVIEW SITES
When trying to earn beauty reviews or reviews for your aesthetic treatments, you should know about the main online websites and the industry-specific websites,
THE MAIN ONLINE REVIEW SITES
Google reviews, Facebook reviews, and Yelp are the top 3 consumer review platforms. Medical spas that offer pampering treatments, like facials or massages, may also be interested in travel sites like Trip Advisor.
INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC REVIEW SITES FOR AESTHETIC BUSINESS
Realself, which is dedicated to aesthetic treatments, is an industry-specific website that also collects customer feedback and beauty reviews for your business. Doctors and dentists offering aesthetic or cosmetic services may be interested in medical review sites like Vitals and Healthgrades.
WHICH REVIEW SITE IS BEST?
Google is the king of search engines. So, Google reviews should be your priority. However, it is wise to garner feedback across different review sites. Try to get aesthetic or beauty reviews on Google, Yelp, and Facebook.
Different demographics and different geographics favor different online review sites. By diversifying your review portfolio among the top three review sites, you widen your reach and expand your online visibility.
Different review platforms feed different search engines. This means that customer sentiment left on one review site may be used elsewhere on the internet. Google’s search engine draws from Google reviews. But Bing, the second most popular search engine, and Yahoo, the third most popular search engine, draw from Yelp and Facebook Reviews.
Bing and Yahoo may get a fraction of the users that Google gets. But consider that Bing is the default search engine for iPhones, and Facebook pushes their reviews to Bing. This means your Facebook reviews are especially important for attracting consumers that use iPhones.
HOW TO GET CUSTOMER FEEDBACK ONLINE
Please don’t assume that your customers will leave reviews of their own volition. Even if you provide stellar customer service, you still need to work to get reviews. Follow these steps for getting more positive reviews online:
ASKING FOR CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
Train your team members, especially your front desk staff, to listen for positive feedback from customers. When a customer expresses satisfaction, ask them to leave a review online. Of course, you should ask at the right time in the right way. No one wants to hear some rehearsed request to “rate my service.” But typically, when you’ve developed a rapport with a customer, asking for a review feels organic.
Asking for a review in person is the best way to get consumer feedback. According to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, face-to-face requests are 34 times more effective than email requests.
EXAMPLE WAYS TO ASK FOR REVIEWS
“It would mean so much to our business if you would leave your feedback online. We’re a family-run spa, and our local reputation means so much to us.”
“I’m so happy you enjoyed your treatment. Would you mind leaving an online review with your feedback? We’re trying to spread the word on how great [treatment] is.”
Asking for customer feedback over SMS (text message) is a great way to increase your online reviews. According to data:
- SMS texts get a 98% open rate,
- SMS texts get a 45% response rate.
- It takes the average person just 90 seconds to respond to a text message
- 75% of people wouldn’t mind receiving an SMS text message from a brand (after opt-in)
Besides great conversion rates, communicating with your customer over text message adds a personal touch to your interaction. Email inboxes are bombarded with brands, offers, discount codes, and companies seeking your business. But your text message inbox is reserved for family and friends.
When to text your customer? For service-based industries, data suggests the best time to send a review request is within a day of the service. The sooner, the better.
The 4 Elements of a Great SMS Review Request:
Get Personal. Address the client by name. You can even include the name of the team member that treated the client.
Keep it Short. Brevity is key when requesting a favor from your client. Ensure your text is less than 160 characters.
Don’t Ask for 5 Star Reviews: Be classy. Don’t pressure your clients into leaving positive reviews. Rather, ask for your client’s honest feedback and details about their experience.
Include a link to your preferred review site. SMS review requests only work if you leave a link to your preferred review site.
Google provides a link you can give your clients that leads directly to the Google reviews section on your Google Business Profile.
To get your link, simply go to your Google Business Profile Manager
Thank you for visiting [YOUR BUSINESS NAME]! We’d love to hear about your experience with us; you can leave us a review at [Link].
We appreciate your business! How’d we do? Please take a moment to let us know. Your feedback is very important to us.
[review funnel link]
Positive customer reviews are a big win for your business. Recognize and/or reward staff members who serve customers that go on to leave positive online reviews. This incentivizes staff to provide stellar customer service and encourages them to ask for reviews if customers voice positive feedback during their treatment.
Encourage your customers to leave feedback (in-person or online) with in-store messaging, like:
- Banners, window clings, brochures, and interactive media.
- Plaques or signs with a scannable QR code that links to an online review platform or your testimonials page on your website.
HOW NOT TO GET REVIEWS?
Reviews are a powerful marketing channel. Positive reviews bring in more business. More business brings in more money. And wherever there is an opportunity to make more money, there is potential for people to manipulate or abuse the process. Businesses fake positive reviews. They may even leave negative reviews for their competitors.
This is problematic for any review site. Reviews only matter if the public can trust them. Therefore, review platforms establish policy guidelines and develop filtering software to discourage and remove reviews that are not from genuine customers.
POLICY RESTRICTIONS AND GUIDELINES FOR ONLINE REVIEW SITES
Each review platform has a different policy for leaving and earning reviews. Businesses must abide by these guidelines.
All review sites forbid garnering fake or manipulated reviews. You should know the one significant difference: Yelp’s policy forbids businesses from requesting that customers leave reviews. Google and Facebook, on the other hand, are fine with businesses asking their customers to leave reviews.
Besides this one difference, follow these best practices to ensure you stay within policy guidelines across all review websites:
- Do not buy reviews or offer to pay someone to leave a review.
- Do not leave negative reviews on a competitor’s profile.
- Do not provide an in-store device for customers to leave a review on.
ONLINE REVIEW MANAGEMENT SERVICES
Interacting with customers online makes you seem more trustworthy not only to your customers but to Google itself. Whether positive or negative, responding to customer reviews demonstrates that you care about keeping customers as much as attracting them. You show your commitment to customer satisfaction. This matters to search engines. Google wants to direct customers to the best, most credible business possible. This is in the search engine’s interest. When Google gets it right, the user is more likely to use Google again.
Google strongly insinuates that responding to reviews influences your local search ranking. On its support page, Google encourages businesses to “interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business.” Google thinks that “responding to reviews” demonstrates “that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave.”
RESPONDING TO REVIEWS BEST PRACTICES
Responding to reviews is a wonderful way to reach out to your customers. Interacting with your customers establishes consumer trust. Surveys show that people like reading responses from the business owner—especially responses to negative reviews. Still, you should respond to every review, positive or negative.
HOW TO RESPOND TO POSITIVE REVIEWS
When responding to positive online reviews, touch on these three points:
Show your appreciation. If a customer leaves positive feedback, thank them for the compliment. Your sincere gratitude will be appreciated by the existing customer and noticed by potential customers reading your reviews.
Get Personal. Generic responses seem impersonal. They achieve the opposite effect of what you are going for. This is your opportunity to get personal. Demonstrate that you value every customer with an initial response. You can keep responses short. But comment on something mentioned in the review. Or personally compliment the customer. Each response should have a distinctive touch. Original, relevant responses create a genuine interaction with your customer. They also demonstrate how you care about your customers to people reading your response.
Invite the customer back: Tell the customer you are looking forward to seeing them again. Tell them about a service you think they’ll love. Express a desire for future interactions.
AVOIDING NEGATIVE REVIEWS
The best way to manage negative reviews is to prevent them from happening in the first place. This ultimately comes down to you, your staff, and your culture of customer service. Survey data estimates that nearly 60% of complaints stem from poor customer service or inappropriate employee behavior. Ensure your team receives the training, incentives, and support they need to prioritize customer satisfaction.
Also, develop a protocol for handling customer complaints and/or customer dissatisfaction. Layout an employee hierarchy for escalating complaints. Customers often go online to voice their frustrations because they don’t feel heard while at the business.
Even if you provide stellar customer service, a negative review is inevitable. Don’t let that keep you from claiming an online business listing or encouraging customer feedback.
Getting a negative review isn’t always a negative thing for your business. Surveys show that when customers receive a response to negative sentiment they left online, nearly 35% of them remove their bad reviews. An equal percentage of customers change their negative reviews into positive reviews.
So, consider negative reviews as opportunities. The important thing is how you respond.
HOW TO RESPOND TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS
Apologize: Even when a review is wrong, remember, the customer is always right. In response to a negative review, the first thing you should say is sorry. Apologize for their unsatisfactory experience.
Say thank you: Express appreciation to the reviewer for providing honest feedback. Be sincere. Consider the negative feedback as valuable criticism and an opportunity to improve.
Keep it professional: Never argue. Don’t get into specifics, especially if HIPAA comes into play. The trick is to keep your response short and polite.
Take the discussion offline: A public, online forum is not the place to hash out details. Provide the customer with a way to contact you. Tell them you want to know more details about their experience so you can make it right and guarantee it doesn’t happen again.
CAPITALIZE ON POSITIVE CUSTOMER FEEDBACK
We’ve discussed how earning online consumer feedback builds your brand, strengthens consumer confidence, improves your local SEO ranking, and creates social proof. But the benefits don’t stop there. Capitalize on your online reviews by adding them to your website and social media accounts.
Whenever you receive a glowing review, post a link to it on your social media accounts. By doing this, you will expand the visibility of the positive review. You will also create more social proof on your Facebook, Instagram, or other social media accounts.
Customer feedback belongs in two places on your website:
- A testimonial page
- treatment specific reviews on the related landing pages.
Testimonials are customer reviews that are posted to your website. The testimonial page is a dedicated landing page that displays your best reviews.
In addition to posting customer feedback left on review sites, a testimonial page collects more reviews. Good testimonial pages include a call to action inviting customers to leave reviews. This call to action promotes two options for a consumer to leave feedback:
- It provides a link to an online review site. It can link to just one review website (we recommend google reviews). Or you can offer clickable links to the three main review sites (Google reviews, Facebook reviews, and Yelp.) Having all three listed allows consumers to post to the review site of their choice. It also helps balance your reviews across different review sites.
- The call to action can also provide a form that allows customers to draft reviews right on the website. This is helpful for less tech-savvy individuals and unfamiliar with review sites.
Reviews that endorse specific services are great assets for that service’s landing page. For example, if you offer Emsculpt Neo, post customer reviews that mention the Emsculpt treatment on the Emsculpt Neo treatment landing page.
The about page could include customer reviews that focus on the courtesy of your staff, your facility, and the professionalism and expertise of the service provider.
You can also post a few reviews to your home page. Select the reviews that distinguish you from your competition.
Posting reviews to your website provides your visitors with social proof. It also demonstrates your authority and trustworthiness to search engines. Demonstrating expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) is important to Google, especially for sites Google designates as YMYL (Your Money; Your Life) websites. The search engine holds certain websites, like doctors, dentists, or medical spas, at a higher standard than other websites promoting less consequential services or products.
THE GOLDEN TESTIMONIAL: A PATIENT'S JOURNEY
The most convincing testimonial is a personal story that tells a patient’s story. If you’ve seen an infomercial for a weight loss treatment or a commercial for a pharmaceutical drug, you are familiar with the “treatment/product journey” format.
A treatment journey provides details about the patient before their treatment. It discusses what motivated the patient to undergo the treatment. It discusses the patient’s experience going through the treatment. It details the patient’s results and includes how the treatment improved their confidence and standard of living.
Journey testimonials often include before, during, and after pictures. The before and after pictures may include your standard treatment photos that show the patient’s body (or a portion of the patient’s body). But they should also include a before and after snapshot of the patient’s life, like pictures of the patient with a family member or a candid shot of the patient at home or a special event. These pictures show what the results have done for the patient’s life. They are meant to show the boost in confidence a patient receives and how that relates to their daily living.
Patient journey stories are relatable and more believable. They should correspond with the most common market demographic for the service. For example, if we’re focusing on a body sculpting treatment like CoolSculpting, the ideal patient journey would detail the before, during, and after of a middle-aged woman, perhaps a mother, who wants to lose some belly bulge that has stuck around since giving birth. It could be a middle-aged man who struggles with double chin fat despite diet and exercise.
Another wonderful way to take positive consumer feedback and turn it into a valuable asset for your business is by taking a video of the patient giving their testimonial. Video testimonials are proudly displayed on the Medstar Media website. These videos are simple to make. Recording with a smartphone in a well-lit room is all the production value the video needs.
REPUTATION MANAGEMENT COMPANIES
Online reviews are a vital marketing channel your business cannot afford to neglect. Of course, online review management takes time and expertise. If you need help with the following, Medstar Media can help:
- Setting up your profiles on review websites.
- Garnering more customer feedback online.
- Responding to online reviews.
- Developing and designing a testimonials page for your website.
- Adding reviews to your landing pages
- Creating a patient journey story.
- Making video testimonials.
- Teaching you the best practices for how to get customer feedback online
ONLINE REVIEW MANAGEMENT FROM MEDSTAR MEDIA
Medstar Media began as a reputation management company before expanding to a full-fledged digital marketing company. We know how to manage online reviews. We offer over a decade of experience in online review management. We have our own customer feedback to prove what an excellent job we do.
If you’d like to learn more about online review management and how to get customer feedback online, reach out to Medstar Media today. We’ll schedule a free consultation with our lead marketing director to review your online visibility. We’ll provide actionable tips you can immediately implement.
Our goal is to be so helpful that we gain your trust. Whether you decide to partner with Medstar Media, your consultation will leave you better equipped to improve your online reputation. You’ll know that Medstar Media is ready and eager to help if you ever need assistance with online marketing.