It’s true for any industry, but especially so for business support services — reviews and testimonials can make or break your company. If there are many reviews online that speak poorly of your team, executives will look the other way.
Business owners are no longer chatting over golf or coffee with their peers about what company they should use for their support services. Today, like for everything else, they’re going online. Reviews and listings for business support services are the modern-day equivalents to word-of-mouth advertising.
Find more clients for your bookkeeping, hiring, or virtual assistant services.
While the process of managing your online listings and reviews may seem overwhelming, it’s a task that is worth understanding and investing some time in each week. By taking the steps necessary to claim your listings, you can get free online advertising that can allow you to address any situations that may appear on reviews quickly and professionally.
How to claim a listing online
First things first — search for your company and see what pops up. You may discover that your business support services are already mentioned on some of the top listing platforms even though you didn’t add them. How did that happen? It’s likely that one of your customers added your information for you.
If this is the case, you shouldn’t be surprised if your contact information is inaccurate and the listing itself is barely filled out. If there are reviews under your listing, you need to move fast to claim it.
Start with Google My Business
If your business came up when you originally searched for it, there will be a link that asks if you own the business. If nothing appeared, you can simply search for Google My Business and go from there.
To get an idea of how important it is to have an up-to-date Google My Business listing, just think of how you look for services and products you need. You probably start with Google, just like your potential customers!
When prospective clients search for something on Google, they see the search engine results page (SERP), which includes a mix of paid ads at the top, organic search results below, and Google My Business listings on the right.
There are a few things you must include in your listing, which will show up on the right-hand side of the search engine results page (SERP). Check that your listing includes:
- The proper spelling of your business name
- Contact information, including a link to your website
- Hours of operation and any holiday closures
- Your address, which should also be accurate on Google Maps
Since many people will be searching for business support services on their mobile devices, they’ll just use the click-and-call option on Google or click to transfer directly to Google Maps. If there are errors in your listing, you’ll miss the call or they’ll drive right by.
Facebook is socially powerful
The second-most important listing online for your business is your Facebook Business page. If you haven’t created a Facebook page for your business, you’ll want to do this right away. A majority of American adults have a Facebook account, and many will check Facebook throughout the day.
The most valuable thing about social media for businesses, of course, is the ability to see who is leaving reviews and doing business with the company. By having a Facebook Business page, you can not only connect with your current customers, but you can also share tips, ideas, and insights that you have as an expert in your industry.
What’s more, Facebook is an excellent way to create a paid advertising campaign that can be targeted directly to only the people you want to reach. Unless you have the budget for ads in the Wall Street Journal, Facebook provides the best opportunity to market directly to top executives and human resource administrators who want your services.
Yelp is still a player
With an app and millions of people relying on it, Yelp is another online platform that offers reviews and listings for businesses throughout the nation. It’s straightforward from the homepage to claim your business on Yelp, and you’ll want to do this, too.
Include all the same information that you did on Google and Facebook. In fact, you’ll want to make sure that all your listings provide the exact same information so there is no confusion for people who are looking at more than one review site.
Are there other sites that are specific to your niche? You can ask your customers if they use any other platforms when doing your market research. Then you can add your listing to those sites as well.
How to respond to reviews
It’s one thing to have all your contact information correct and a comprehensive list of the services and products you offer for business support. It’s another thing when you discover that a customer was unsatisfied for whatever reason and has blasted it on your listing.
Some platforms, like Facebook and Google, will alert you whenever there is a new review on your listing. You can set up a Google Alert so that any time the name of your business is mentioned online, you will get an alert. This is important because whether the review is positive or negative, you’ll want to respond right away.
If someone posts a positive review online, you can reply simply by thanking them for their business and the time they took to share their experience. Keep it short and sweet.
If the review is negative, you must still handle the situation with grace and professionalism. Potential customers understand that problems arise, but they want to see that you are willing and able to handle whatever the situation is.
Some best practices for handling negative reviews are:
- Reply right away. An apology a month after the fact looks like you don’t care.
- Apologize, even if it’s just for their dissatisfaction.
- Explain the reason behind the problem if possible, but don’t make excuses.
- Offer a way to right the wrong. This may be a discount for future service or an offline conversation.
- Tell them how they can reach out to you directly to follow up, either with a phone call or a direct message on the listing platform.
Try to keep your reply short and honest. Transparency and kindness can go a long way when presenting yourself professionally online, whether it’s through email marketing or online replies.
How to get more positive reviews
Of course, every business owner wants a five-star review every time. To increase the number of positive reviews online, all you have to do is ask. You know your satisfied customers. Ask them directly to take a few minutes to post an honest review on the listing sites you’ve claimed.
You’ll want to be careful about incentivizing customers to write reviews, as that can make your reviews inauthentic. Instead, simply explain to your customers the importance of having honest customer reviews for your business and tell them how much you value their feedback.
Integrate listings into your marketing plan
You can’t rely on listings and reviews alone for marketing your business support services company. It’s also wise to incorporate content marketing, search engine optimization, and other methods of online marketing.