As a small business, your online reputation is everything. And online accounting reviews can help or hurt you disproportionately. Positive reviews can give you an edge, indicating to potential customers that you can provide a level of service or personal attention unmatched by larger and more established competitors. Bad press can shut you down completely.
This post answers these pressing questions about managing online accounting reviews and listings:
- Why do reviews matter so much for accounting businesses?
- Where and how should listings be maintained?
- When and how should reviews be responded to?
- How can review numbers be increased?
Take a breath. Managing your online reputation may be crucial, but it doesn’t have to be hard.
Why do reviews matter so much for accounting businesses?
Over ninety percent of consumers between the age of 18 to 34 read online reviews and trust them as much as they would a personal recommendation.
In a world where customers are swamped with options and information, reviews give them a sense of reliable, relevant information. They don’t have to rely on marketing to help them make their decision. Instead, they can hear about the specific experiences of people like them who have used certain products or services.
Establishing trust is even more important for an accountant than for other industries. One terrible experience may not doom a small dry-cleaning establishment, but you’re asking customers to trust you with something significantly more sensitive than their favorite pair of pants.
Where and how should listings be maintained?
First, make sure that your business information is correct on all major sites. Incorrect information loses you business in two ways. Clients can’t find you, and they won’t want to if you come across as sloppy or careless.
Claim your listings. Let review and directory sites know that you are who you are, giving you control over your business profile. By doing so, you also prevent others from publishing their mistakes about your hours, address, and contact information.
The Big Three
Your time is valuable. You have a finite amount to give the task of managing your online accounting reviews and listings.
The most important profiles to set up are the ones that potential customers check and that your client base uses to engage with you most often:
- Google My Business
Searches give these three established sites the most authority when it comes to SERP ranking, and customers give them the most authority in making their decisions.
Your Google My Business listing automatically appears when clients search your business, and 60% of customers check Google reviews in deciding which local business to patronize.
Yelp has gained unofficial status as a verb. A mind-boggling number of people “yelp” businesses, whether they’re leaving reviews or reading them.
Facebook provides more than just business information: it is yet another source of reviews. It also serves as an important social media marketing tool for accountants.
Keep an eye on your field and niche directories and review sites for accounting and financial services. Make sure that your information is present — and correct — where it needs to be.
For example, as an accountant, you should be listed on CPA directory. While it may not have the same authority or traffic volume as Google or Yelp, you don’t want to lose potential business over a few minutes of work.
When and how should reviews be responded to?
Every review matters, which may be the most frustrating part of learning how to manage your online accounting reviews and listings. Clients do their research. While the average consumer reads about ten reviews, this number increases with younger clientele. Any one of them could affect their decision.
Most platforms give you the opportunity to respond to your reviews, displaying your response along with the original review. Merely engaging with your reviews improves your image. It suggests that you are a firm or individual that cares about your customer base and is responsive to their feedback.
They like you. They really like you.
Show that you like them, too. For absolutely no direct return, they took time out of their busy day to endorse your business. Thank them for leaving a review and express your pleasure that they enjoyed their experience.
It is even more important to respond — and respond promptly — to your negative reviews. The good news is that about 89% of consumers read business responses to reviews as well as the reviews themselves.
But how should you handle criticism online? The Constant Contact blog addresses this issue in more detail, but here are a few basic Do’s and Don’ts.
- Relax. Everyone gets bad reviews occasionally. It doesn’t have to mean the end of the world.
- Thank the customer for their business and feedback — even if you have to grit your teeth while you do it.
- Accept responsibility and apologize. Establish your values and priorities and express regret that you fell short of your goals.
- Try to make it right. If they pointed out a specific problem, tell them how you are going to solve it. You can also offer discounts or other incentives to encourage them to give your business another try.
- Ask to take the conversation off site if appropriate. Offer to have a representative contact them directly.
- Ignore the bad review.
- Get defensive. There is only one time you should flatly deny a reviewer’s claim: if you’ve been trolled by a non-client, you can calmly and firmly state that this person has never used your services.
- Overdo it. You want to be humble, not abject. Keep your response brief and to the point.
Conduct yourself like the assured professional you are, and potential clients will view you accordingly.
How can review numbers be increased?
Amount matters. Around half of users believe that quantity is important when it comes to reviews. This percentage has only grown in the last five years and will likely continue to do so.
In other words, when your potential customer glances at the numbers, they don’t just look at the average rating – they look at the number beside it, indicating how many people have contributed to that rating.
Even when you’ve collected a large number of reviews, you can’t slack off. Most consumers – as much as 85% – dismiss reviews that are older than three months as irrelevant.
Include a plug-in on your optimized website that sends clients directly to a site where they can leave a review. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, you can also set up a sign that boasts of your ratings and asks customers to leave their own reviews.
Asking for reviews
You shouldn’t be shy about asking for reviews more directly as well. Satisfied clients are often happy to provide feedback.
Do your research, and pick the site that makes the most sense for your industry and area. Send clients there rather than spreading them across multiple platforms.
Email marketing automation can help as well. It offers you the tools you need to solicit reviews easily and effectively. Clients automatically receive an email thanking them for their business, asking for honest feedback, and directing them to your site of choice.
Reap the rewards of your own hard work
One of the biggest reasons you need to know how to manage your online accounting reviews and listings is that you deserve recognition for everything you do well. So claim your listings, engage with posted reviews, and solicit new ones.
Turn to Constant Contact’s complete guide: The Download: Making Sense of Online Marketing for Professional Services. Or contact us directly to find out how we can help you grow your business, using the latest digital tools.