With the proliferation of smartphone devices and apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor, review sites are a powerful driving force for consumers’ decision making. These local listings sites, along with location-based listings like Google My Business, are critical for small business success in today’s competitive, digital landscape.
If a small business doesn’t actively monitor key sites and engage in proactive reputation management, then they risk damaging their brand if they don’t handle poor reviews well, and incentivize good reviews. Moreover, if your online presence isn’t up to date, or has inaccurate information, you’ll come off as not credible. Especially if people can’t even locate your contact details.
Local Listings - Why Should You Care?
Local listings are a double edged sword; they can either help or hurt your business, depending on the quality of your reputation management. The most obvious way that review and listing sites can affect your brand is through good and bad reviews. Even a few bad reviews can really hurt your brand, especially if you don’t address or confront the issue with the reviewer and on the review site. People forgive mistakes, but they need to see that you did the right thing and corrected it with the customer.
Local listing sites also give you an opportunity to know your customers. You can combine the review feedback with social listening technology to gain a clearer picture of who your customers are, and what they’re thinking. After you’ve put in the time and effort improving your reputation on sites like Google My Business and Yelp, consumers will be more likely to trust your business in the future.
Here are some tips for local listings that any small business owner or manager can use to make local listings work for you (and not against you).
Tip #1: Have the Right Contact Info
Make sure that your business name, address, phone number, email, and social media contacts are consistent and up-to-date on all local listings sites. Customers need to be sure they can contact you, and that all contact information is correct. Also keep in mind that Google searches for consistency within its company listings, which is even more incentive to make sure your business info is correct across all sites, apps, and platforms. Your digital footprint is like a business card, so the more impressive and complete your profile is on all local listings sites (as well as your own website), the more legitimacy you’ll gain.
Tip #2: Follow Up on Your Reviews
Again, it’s inevitable you’ll receive a complaint or two on listings or review sites. But it’s about how you respond to the situation, communicate to the customer, and remedy the situation. Commenting and interacting with the person who has an issue, and making sure they’re followed up on, makes you look calm, professional, and trustworthy to potential customers who can clearly see your interactions and solutions. You should even try to follow up on as many positive reviews as you can - it’s an opportunity to further discuss what they love about your business, and what improvements they might like to see in the future.
Tip #3: Regularly Check Your Reviews
Part of following up on reviews means that you need to monitor and check local listings and review websites regularly. It’s so you can promptly address any negative feedback, and also make sure that people are reviewing the correct business. Consumers make mistakes and review a business with a similar name or branding, so if something like that happens, you want to catch it as soon as possible.
Tip #4: Take the Conversation Offline
While you do want to publicly acknowledge on the review site that any negative reviews are being addressed, you also want to take the conversation with that individual customer offline as soon as you can. It will allow both of you to honestly discuss the issue in private, make the customer feel like they’re being protected, and it will add a personal touch that will let them you that you care and want their business in the future.
Tip #5: Don’t Get Emotional
When a customer complains, or you see a bad review that you feel is unjustified, it’s easy to get upset and overly emotional. But this is a huge mistake in the long run, as you’ll only come across as defensive and irrational. Don’t let emotions get in the way when responding to reviews. Keep the conversation professional, honest, courteous, and apologetic. And as mentioned above, calmly take the conversation offline, patiently listen to the customer, and come up with a plan to make things right.
Local listings are a major influence on how people discover and decide on which businesses to frequent. That’s why it’s critical to make sure all of your information is up to date on local listings sites, monitor them frequently, and remedy any negative situations. Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to make reviews work for - and not against - you and your business.
For more information on how to approach local listings and other techniques to grow your small business, discover our courses by clicking here: Business Design Series