Tulsa small business owners say business is booming — the cost of doing business is 11% below the U.S. average and a cost of living that is 8% below the U.S. average.
According to our survey, most business owners believe technology is a key contributor to their growth. Nearly two-thirds report that online reviews are important to their success, and 80% say a positive online review has led to new business opportunities. Conversely, owners are aware of a negative review’s potential impact.
In the digital era, customer compliments and criticisms hold tremendous sway. Here are a few tips on making the most of the positive reviews, as well as mitigating the impact of negative ones:
1. Remember, the process starts before a review is even written. Whether good or bad, online reviews stem from everyday customer interactions. Encourage your staff to keep notes of why an experience was either positive or negative. If a customer is complimentary, take advantage of the moment by asking them to share that feedback in a review or social platform. If a customer recommends an improvement, write it down and make a point to follow up.
2. Have a response plan for negative reviews. Many business owners who’ve had a negative online review believe responding as soon as possible is key to mitigating impact. While every comment scenario will be unique, pre-planned templates can offer a head start on a response and can be customized accordingly. Consider a response that addresses the issue and recommends moving the conversation offline.
3. Monitor platforms to track what’s said — and respond. A major benefit of online reviews is that you can respond directly and in your own voice. Look to engage with comments of all kinds, showing appreciation for positive feedback and approaching negative reviews with humility and a resolution in mind.
4. Amplify the positive on social media. To extend the reach of these testimonials, share them through your social channels in a template. If available, provide a link back to the product or service when posting the review.
Entrepreneurs must embrace the world of online reviews and use them to their advantage. As Tulsa small business owners anticipate a year of steady growth, embracing online reviews as a tool in a marketing kit can be helpful in achieving these plans.
Katie Maguffee is vice president of small business banking for Bank of America in Tulsa.
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