Customer service is central to everything a business does. That’s especially true for small businesses, who can’t afford to alienate their customers with dismissive or neglectful service. The incentive to maintain customer loyalty with top-notch customer service at a local level is part of what endears small businesses to many of us.

Though lots of people continue to visit the same businesses they have for years and even decades, the way they communicate their opinion of these businesses is changing.

In the past, customers let their family and friends know their opinion about local businesses by word of mouth. More proactive customers published their opinions in the local newspaper.

Today, online review sites make it possible for consumers everywhere to publish their opinions, qualified or unqualified, in a matter of minutes. People aren’t only posting to these review sites; they’re also reading reviews at an unprecedented rate.

In fact, 95% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase. They take these reviews seriously, too. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Instead of worrying that every little mistake they make is going to be seen on the web, smart businesses are embracing online reviews as an essential part of doing business in the 21st century. They’re finding that reviews are key to improving customer service and that investing in the right customer review software is key.

This blog post includes seven ways small businesses are using online reviews to improve their customer service.

1. Simplify the Office Experience with Review Requests

The first step to using reviews is asking for them. Some businesses forget about this crucial step and let customers post reviews at their own leisure. Owners that don’t empower their administrative team to request reviews are putting themselves at the mercy of their customers’ whims and fancies.

If they are asking for reviews, many offices are making these requests by asking customers to stay after their appointments to fill out paperwork. This detracts from the customer experience by taking time out of clients’ busy schedules.

Businesses that send out review requests by text save their customers time and effort. They don’t have to linger in your office in order to write reviews. On their smartphone, customers can open a link to a review site, type their review, and publish it at their own pace and from any location.

2. Customize and Automate Review Requests

Another way reviews improve customer service is when text requests are customizable and automated. Customizable review requests are able to be adjusted anytime with easy-to-use software, increasing the personability of business communications. Automated review requests are programmed into communication systems to save administrative teams time and effort.

Customized review requests help consumers feel more connected to businesses. Small details like using a customer’s name or mentioning events like birthdays, holidays, and other occasions make it more likely that they’ll leave a positive review. Research shows these customized requests are best received after a successful appointment.

Automated review requests aren’t quite as personable, but they do free up your staff to focus on more important matters. By automating review requests to be sent over text message, your in-office customer service improves in that it cuts a step out of the usual interactions with clients.

See how Weave Reviews makes the process easier

9 out of 10 people check online reviews before choosing a business

Weave helps you easily collect and monitor reviews on Google and Facebook. These reviews can be some of the best marketing for your business.

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3. Direct Customers to Popular Review Sites

Reviews improve customer service when they’re visible to your business and to the general public. If businesses request reviews without consolidating them on specific sites, it’s much more difficult to let them influence how they provide customer service. Review requests, whether they’re customized or automated, should direct customers to popular sites, like Google, Facebook, and Yelp.

Gathering reviews on well-established sites makes it easier to keep tabs on what’s being said about your business. These sites also have convenient interfaces and apps meant to simplify the review-posting process for consumers.

By asking customers to post reviews on popular online sites, you’re increasing the likelihood of other potential customers seeing them. This visibility doesn’t only improve your marketing opportunities; it creates a customer service standard to which new clients can hold you and your team accountable.

When potential customers read about your excellent customer service online, they show up at your business expecting high-level treatment. This isn’t entitlement; it’s effective reputation management.

4. Monitor Reviews Across Multiple Platforms

Smart businesses direct their customers to popular review sites, then use review management software to monitor the activity on these sites. Reviews, if used properly, give businesses insight into the quality of their customer service. Having an interface to monitor reviews on various sites makes it much more convenient to gain insights.

Owners and employees get tired of hopping from site to site just to see if any new reviews have recently been posted. Smart businesses take advantage of software that brings these review sites together on one dashboard. This type of software also has the ability to notify businesses of the new reviews being posted about them.

Monitoring reviews through reputation management software allows businesses to get a lot of qualitative feedback on their customer service in a short period of time. You can share and learn from positive reviews, and knowing about extremely negative or fake reviews lets your team clear your business’s name as soon as possible with review site administration.

5. Respond to Reviews Quickly

Much like requesting reviews requires businesses to be proactive, responding to them takes initiative. Asking for reviews and gathering them isn’t enough. Smart businesses monitor reviews with regularity, then reach out to customers leaving reviews to further improve their customer service.

If you and your team find a genuinely enthusiastic review, you can contact that person about sharing their review on social media channels or your company website. Adding tasteful and informed reviews to these platforms improves the experience of those seeking to learn more about your business.

Dealing with negative reviews is just as critical. Your team should talk to customers that had unsatisfactory experiences to find out what went wrong. This process ideally leads to the source of dissatisfaction, whether that be pricing, a particular employee, a misguided policy, a genuine mistake, or plain old bad luck.

Responding to criticism is one of the most important aspects of customer service. Previously, businesses only had to react to in-person criticism. With online reviews, smart businesses are actively verifying and responding to online critiques as part of their customer service efforts.

6. Analyze Internal Processes

While immediately responding to positive and negative reviews is crucial, some of your business’s response to reviews should be reflective in nature. Just paying lip service by promising to adjust or change things is surface-level customer service. The best businesses allow feedback to shape the way their organization looks moving forward.

The purpose of online reviews isn’t merely to boost visibility. A healthy dose of introspection coming out of sincere review analysis can lead businesses to find new approaches and outlooks. Dynamic businesses let reviews influence their decision-making and planning for the future.

Business owners need to take the lead in accepting the feedback they’ve gathered through reviews. Once they’ve looked at themselves, they can start considering what the reviews say about employee behavior, company policy, and finances. Taking good feedback to heart is vital if businesses want to use online reviews to improve their customer service.

7. Find Alternative Approaches to Review Gathering

Most of this article has focused on using text requests to gather reviews on popular sites. There are alternatives to text requests, but some of them are rapidly becoming antiquated, such as written reviews. More technologically advanced methods include review gathering via email and voicemail.

Getting reviews by text from customers after successful appointments should be a priority for smart businesses. However, sending well-crafted emails to clients to request reviews is an alternative that reaches a slightly different demographic. The same links from text requests can be used in mass emails to ensure that regardless of request channel, reviews are gathered on prominent sites.

If customers really don’t want to type out their reviews, they can leave a voicemail. With the right technology, like the kind provided on most smartphones, your office can convert the contents of the voicemail to a written format.

These alternatives to text requests give your business other options to gathering reviews, if only to ensure you hear from as many customers as possible. Improving customer service through reviews means seeking out the opinions of all your clients.

Weave, Online Reviews, and Customer Service

Weave lets businesses send review requests by text. These text messages can be customized and even automated using our software. They also bring customers to the best websites for reputation management.

Once customers post reviews, our dashboard makes it easy for offices to get notifications and monitor review activity across the internet. This feature enables them to respond and analyze reviews to improve customer service. Our voicemail and email options give businesses additional ways to collect reviews.

Weave also has a new feature that helps you respond to customer reviews even faster. Weave’s Response Assistant helps reduce the time it takes to respond to customer reviews by creating custom, relevant responses to customer reviews by using generative AI technology. This allows you to streamline your reputation management process giving you more time to tend to patients in your practice.

Smart businesses are using Weave’s combination of hardware and software solutions to improve their online reviews and customer service. Watch a demo to see how.