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Offering incentives and making sure the process is easily accessible are two ways businesses can encourage their customers to leave positive reviews. — Getty Images/andresr

Every modern business knows the power of online reviews. According to a 2017 survey by Podium, 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their buying decisions.

Negative comments can destroy your company’s reputation, while positive ones can act as influential marketing for your brand. Unfortunately, many consumers are more inclined to leave bad reviews, driven by anger or disappointment—and to neglect to leave positive feedback when they’re satisfied.

Here are some ways to encourage customers to leave good online reviews.

Set up profiles on popular review sites

Make sure you cover all your bases by setting up profiles on various review sites, like Google Local, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Amazon. Choose platforms that are relevant to your brand. For instance, if you’re a local restaurant, stick with sites like Yelp and Foursquare; if you’re an e-commerce business, try out sites like Amazon. This will not only encourage more reviews from like-minded customers, but also broaden your reach.

[Read: How to Make the Most of Review Sites like Angie's List and Yelp]

Request reviews directly

Sometimes, customers need a reminder about the impact of their feedback on your business’s reputation. If a customer is unhappy with your products or services, they might instinctively seek ways to channel their discontent. But if they’re satisfied, they might not think twice about it.

Don’t hesitate to directly ask your customers to leave reviews. If a client voices their satisfaction to you, kindly request that they articulate it in the form of a comment on your website, social media page or other review sites.

Offer incentives

While you don’t want to buy your customers’ reviews, you can offer incentives that motivate them to leave one. Set up a rewards program that recognizes reviewers for taking the time to provide feedback on your business.

Of course, this doesn’t guarantee the reviews will be positive ones (don’t reward only good reviews!). But odds are, if you’re confident in your products and services, most of your consumers will express satisfaction and gratitude.

[Read: Top 4 Tips for Handling a Bad Business Review]

Negative comments can destroy your company’s reputation, while positive ones can act as influential marketing for your brand.

Make it convenient and easily accessible

Your customers shouldn’t have to search hard to find your review profiles. Include direct links in places like follow-up emails and newsletters, or on your website and social media pages. Also consider integrating a star-based review system into your website, so customers can easily click to rate their experience.

Respond to all reviews

Customers want to be heard, so if you want to encourage reviews, it’s important to show that you’re responsive to customers who offer their comments. Don’t let any feedback go unnoticed. Take time to reply to every review by thanking each person for sharing their experience with your product or service, and offer a personalized response to each individual.

Most importantly, never ignore or delete a negative review. Always respond in a professional, calm manner, without getting defensive. Let the customer know (publicly) that you’re sorry they had a bad experience and encourage them to take the conversation to a private channel so you can resolve it “offline.”

[Read: A Complete Guide to Managing Online Reviews]

Share positive reviews

Another great way to encourage reviews is by publishing the good ones to your social media pages or your website. Doing so will not only highlight positive feedback but also show consumers that you pay attention to their experiences.

Many people love getting shoutouts, so this might even act as an incentive for others to leave their own positive reviews. Be sure to obtain permission from the customer before publishing their review.

Use social media

Social media is a great place for customers to rave about your brand. Ask your followers what they love about a specific product or how they enjoyed your services. That way, anyone who visits your pages can read through feedback from real customers.

By encouraging online reviews, you’re strengthening your bond with your customers while improving your brand’s online reputation. Your customers’ satisfaction will speak for itself.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published February 07, 2020