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April 9, 2021

How to Increase Your Google Star Rating

How do you increase your local business's Google star rating? These six steps will help you activate the voice of your already-existing happy customers, drowning out negative commentary, and converting unhappy customers to happy ones.

How do you increase your local business's Google star rating?

Great question.

The obvious answer is to improve the experience at your store for your customers.

But that's not your only option. There are tactical moves you can make to get better content on your Google page, optimizing which customer stories end up front and center.

Most likely, you have hundreds of happy customers every month. Whether your business handles it in-house, or is using a Google review service, the strategies we’ll discuss in this article will help you convert more of those experiences into public information that will bolster your online reputation. 

Ask all of your customers for a review

Easier said than done, but the first step towards improving your rating is to begin requesting more feedback. 

If you imagine a cross-section of your customers, the majority will have their needs met, a satisfactory experience. 

They got what they came for. 

And so, they likely won’t leave you a review. A satisfactory experience breeds apathy.

By comparison, a poor experience drives action. Motivation to share their experience, saving others from being wronged as they have been wronged. Totally understandable.

Because of this, you have an opportunity. Prompt all of your customers to provide feedback and more happy customers will get in the mix.

The Tactic:

Drown out negative feedback in a sea of positive reviews.

Make it easy

Now that you’ve asked your customers, to get them to the finish line you need to make it easy.

It should be as easy as looking up directions on Maps.

If you do this right, more happy customers will take the 30 seconds required to toss a 5-star review online. The effort required is commensurate with the loyalty they feel to your business. 

For many, it’s only a little, but that is enough for you to capitalize on.

The Tactic:

To do it, we recommend using SMS. Text is a direct and easily accessible method of communication. But it's also private and subject to TCPA oversight. Because of this, it needs to be utilized responsibly, but asking for a review post-transaction is 100% reasonable.

Once opened, an SMS review invite needs to direct the reader to your review page on their phone in just a couple of clicks. If the customer is submitting a star rating and a quick line of feedback the whole process will take 10 seconds.

You would take 10 seconds to leave a review, right? It’s like asking for a quarter, it’s worth something, but most of the time we won’t think twice about parting with one.

Personalization helps recall

Putting yourself in the shoes of the shopper for a moment, imagine you just bought a couch. Sam helped you find the right one and complete your transaction. 

Later that day you get a message.

A: “Thank you for shopping at Jim’s Furniture Outlet. Please take a moment to leave a review: <link>”

Or

B: “Hey Taylor, this is Sam from Jim’s Furniture Outlet. Your feedback is very helpful to our team, helping us determine what we are doing right and where we can improve. Would you please take a moment to leave us a review? <link>

Which one is more compelling? Of course, it’s message B. 

A personalized message will help with recall and drive action.

Nobody likes to be ignored

Just like Tom Brady trying to get a high-five on the sidelines, sending in feedback to no response is a letdown.

An HBR study of TripAdvisor data found that when a business begins responding to reviews their review volume increases 12% and ratings increase 0.12 stars. Thinking about this on a human level, if your customers see that you're engaging with customer feedback they will be more compelled to share their thoughts.

Also, don’t ignore your unhappy customers. Respond promptly, professionally and respectfully request to speak further offline so you can help solve the problem.

Do this and some unhappy customers will update their score. We see it all the time.

Tactics:

  • Respond to every review, promptly and with a human team (no automation)
  • Solve customer problems

Act on feedback

Going back to the intro, all of the tactics discussed above will help you optimize your star rating, but foundationally the in-store experience needs to be good for the customer.

Reviews are a great source of continuous feedback, allowing you and your team to fine-tune here and there and, worst-case scenario, perform brand reputation crisis management.

Tactic:

  • Review your customer feedback regularly and use trending issues to improve the in-store experience.

Put it all together

Here’s the process sequentially for clarity.

How to increase your local business’s Google rating:

  1. Offer a quality experience to your customers
  2. Ask every customer for a review via SMS
  3. Make the process easy - 10 seconds on the same device
  4. Personalize your communication so the customer understands why they are getting the message
  5. Respond to every review, good or bad
  6. Solve problems for unhappy customers

These six steps will help you activate the voice of your already-existing happy customers, drowning out negative commentary, and converting unhappy customers to happy ones.

Using this approach, Widewail clients see an average ratings jump from 4.4-4.7, and even more for businesses with a lower rating to begin with.

What's Widewail?

Widewail is a reputation management software and services company based in Burlington, VT. We help hundreds of small local businesses and national brands like Lexus and BH Property Management generate and respond to reviews.

Learn more about our core products:

Engage: Review response managed services

Invite: Send automated SMS review requests to all your customers

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, we recommend the Widewail Reputation Management Playbook next. We expand on a number of the ideas in this article, clearly explaining an easy and effective strategy to improve your online reputation. At 34 pages, this ebook is our #1 resource.

PLAYBOOK  The 2021 Reputation Management Playbook Download Now

Jake Hughes

I’m Marketing Manager here at Widewail, as well as a husband and new dad outside the office. In Vermont by way of Boston, where I grew the CarGurus YouTube channel from 0-100k subscribers. I love the outdoors and hate to be hot, so I’m doing just fine in the arctic Vermont we call home. Fun fact: I met my wife on the shuttle bus at Baltimore airport. Thanks for reading Widewail’s content!

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