By Janette Speyer and Alison Brown
Building online trust is critical for an online business. Since your customers don’t often get to meet you face-to-face, in order to sell your products and services you have to build trust and confidence through your online voice instead.
Getting this accomplished can take a lot of work, but by cultivating reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google, Amazon or LinkedIn, you can prove to people that your company is reputable and worth doing business.
Social Sites and Referrals
The most effective way to get new business is through direct referrals, however the use of social sites can be advantageous for building trust online since many people use websites to read reviews before purchasing anything. Reviews from third parties are so effective because it dissolves the barrier between the company and potential customer and your company can be viewed as a credible entity without any work on your part. If people can get a detailed first hand perspective about positive experiences that fellow customers had with your company, then people will be more likely to trust you before they’ve even met you which is extremely valuable from a business perspective.
How to Build a Reputation Online
If you promote your company within communities that are relevant to your business, you are more likely you will be to receive clients who will review their experiences online. There are many ways to encourage customers to do this, but most importantly, make sure you don’t ask them too directly or offer incentives to write reviews. People may get turned off if you ask them, but if you go about it in a more tactful way by presenting them with links to your Yelp or Facebook page via email, then you may be surprised at how easy it may be to build up your online reputation.
Then as more people see your positive reviews, other clients who were happy with the services you provided may also start to write positive reviews as well. It’s also important that you make it easy for people to write these reviews. Follow up with clients right away and give them several options to review your services. You can also send follow up emails a few days later to remind people that if they had a good experience, you would like to hear from them so you can continue to improve customer service.
How Customer Reviews Help You
Customer reviews appear in the search engines with stars and this is a powerful selling point for your company. When a prospective customer searches for you on a search engine and you have a glowing review, it makes for an easier sale. Even just seeing the visual 4-5 star reviews can be enough for someone to perceive your company as trustworthy. A lot of people don’t have time to read lengthy reviews so being able to see a highly rated company in a search result can be enough to persuade some consumers.
For example, if your Facebook profile appears with the “like,” next to it then this means you are getting many reviews from many sources. This is a strong case to build a social media campaign to leverage your social profiles for online searches. There are several ways you can do this:
- Get reviews on local search engines like Google, Yahoo, Yelp and Bing
- Get LinkedIn recommendations on your profile by asking people to write them for you
- Add testimonials to your website from previous customers
Building your reputation online will take time, but it is worth the effort. One review is always better than none. Any way you can get your company’s name out there with positive remarks about products or services, the more likely you will be to increase your clientele. Even if you get a negative response or review from someone, you can reach out to them and prove to people online that you are willing to go to great lengths to make up for their bad experience.
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