People trust other people, much more than they trust you. That means your potential customers trust the semi-anonymous reviews written on online review sites more than all that great text on your own website.
If you are a fairly small business, you may have no reviews or only a few reviews on these sites. One cranky person can leave a huge mark on your online reputation. So it is critical that you take action.
First and foremost, improve your service. We’ll all draw an undeserved negative comment on occasion, but we can all stand to improve. While you may want to brush off a bad review or get defensive, it’s more productive to treat every comment as a chance to deliver better service.
Next, encourage positive reviews. When a hotelier in Scotland stapled this card to my bill, I thought he was smart. He’d already made sure I was satisfied, and he was encouraging me to tell others.
If you want to encourage reviews,
- Start with your satisfied current customers.
- Focus on the few review sites that actually send you the most customers.
- Consider contacting your biggest fans to offer reviews.
I can see some possibility for controversy here. Are we skating too close to manipulating? I’d love to hear your take on this in the comments.
Leverage reviews in bigger ways
Are you feeling brave? Let’s take comments back from the online review sites. Let’s open our own sites for reviews:
- Open a comment section on your own website.
- Allow comments on your tourism association website.
Do you think that could work? Do you know of any examples of a tourism business or association allowing open reviews?
This article is part of Tourism Tuesday, a series of posts for tourism businesses and associations in small towns and rural areas. If you have questions you’d like us to address in this series, leave a comment or send us an email at email@example.com. This is a community project!
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.