Running a small business can seem overwhelming at times. Getting your business name out there is an important brand awareness marketing tool that can help expand your business. Attracting customers to your business will help grow your profits, and one of the best ways to attract customers is through online reviews. Whether you run a small flower shop or a law office, it is crucial to keep in mind the positive and negative Google and Yelp reviews you have.

In today’s world, about nine out of ten customers read reviews before deciding to make a purchase or use a service. While having positive reviews online can be the ultimate deciding factor for a consumer, frequently it is hard to ask your clients for reviews. While asking your clients might make you feel uncomfortable or anxious, reviews are a great way to connect you to your current and future clients.

One of the best times to ask for a review is when a customer is already complimenting you on your work. When a customer is happy with the job done, they are more likely to want to share their experience with others, so kindly ask them for a review. Another great way to get reviews is by asking clients questions about how their experience was with you. If they give you negative feedback, then be sure to note what changes you should be making; if they give you positive feedback, then ask them to write a review for you.

Aside from asking for and gaining more reviews, it is also vital to interact with consumers who leave a review, especially those who leave a negative review. In fact, 97 percent of consumers who read online reviews also read the responses that the business left. If consumers see that your business truly wants to support their customers, then they will see an active and engaging business that wants to do and be better. This means that when you see a negative review, be sure to reply and find out what went wrong and apologize for what happened. Since the customer is always right in this arena, make sure you offer support, such as a refund or a discount, or try to help solve the situation. In addition, replying back to the positive reviews you have can make your current customers feel valued and can help build a closer bond between your business and your customers. Oftentimes, just staying engaged and being grateful for the reviews you do have will help you keep and gain customers.

When asking for reviews, keep in mind that almost half of all internet users say they post online reviews at least once a month, so the odds are that your client has written or seen reviews before and would gladly be able to quickly write one for you. Overall, be confident in yourself and your abilities, and don’t shy away from asking your customers for reviews, because positive reviews can mean a world of difference in generating future customers. Remember that the more reviews you have, the more opportunities you will gain for new customers to find you, so make asking for reviews a routine practice.

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Author and intern, Bella Neal, is a rising senior at Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and hopes to pursue a career in law.