Friday, October 5, 2012

how to write quality consumer reviews that help local business thrive

By writing quality consumer reviews, you have the opportunity to contribute to the success of locally owned businesses, not just by influencing others' buying decisions but also by providing critical feedback to business owners. Your input will enable businesses to provide better services or products, which will in turn help them stay open and thrive.

The reviews that you write also help local businesses gain online credibility with other consumers as well as search engines.

But that doesn’t mean all reviews are good reviews—and we’re not talking about glowing versus scathing reviews. While often good intentioned, many reviews are simply not helpful.

If you want to write reviews that truly help businesses in your community, then consider what makes a quality review from the perspectives of the business owner, the search engine and the customer. Because really, no matter if you’re an independent proprietor, an Internet robot, or a living, breathing consumer, you all want the same thing: relevant, accurate, usable information.

What Kinds of Reviews Are Helpful to Business Owners?

Winemaker and Hip Chicks do Wine owner Laurie Lewis says “factual unbiased information” is most helpful in customer reviews.

A review is valuable to her if it answers questions like: “Were you greeted in a timely fashion? Did you get the information you were looking for? Was our staff helpful, informative and pleasant?”

An important point about these questions is that they are all things that Lewis can control, not subjective opinions.

“Writing a review saying, ‘I didn't like this wine,’ is not helpful to the business owner or consumers looking for information,” she explains.

Lewis stresses the importance of being specific with your feedback: “Things like, ‘this packaging was hard to open’ or ‘the food was cold.’ Those things are helpful because a business can improve on them.”

Business owners want to know if their products or services meet a consistent level of quality, especially when they are not present. Being absent from their businesses means they can definitely miss out on certain customer experiences, so it’s important for Jenna Forzley of Atomic Pizza to get customer reviews that allow her “to hear if our quality of food and service are consistent.”

Lewis also recognizes that there are often things business owners don’t want to hear—like my server “spent more time on his or her cell phone than assisting me,” “the bathroom was dirty,” etc.—but those “are all things that show where some attention needs to be focused.”

Whether you’re leaving a positive or negative review, it’s important to remember to be constructive, offering factual, rational information or examples to support your accolades or criticism.

Find out what makes a good review in the eyes of consumers as well as search engines on Neighborhood Notes.

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