Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

The world has changed greatly over the years; people rely on the internet for everything, including researching whether or not to buy a particular product. Gone are the days when people used to take reviews from people in real life. Now they trust the web for this and business owners need to take note and put more effort into the gathering and monitoring of their online reviews.

“Online reviews are such a powerful marketing tool, and the brands that have realized this early on have used it to their advantage,” says Luqman Khan of Wireloo, a website that just reviewed the best dash cameras 2018.

Reputation monitoring and management of your online reviews is something that all brands need to pay attention to. You cannot hide from negative reviews, making quality customer service and being proactive so crucial.

Reviews are everywhere

Be it on social media applications or review websites, your customers are everywhere talking about your business, whether negative or positive. If you keep a regular check of these websites then you can help mold your image in a way that will benefit your business growth.

There are many tools and pieces of software that will monitor and alert you when new reviews have been posted, allowing you to respond and handle them right away.

It is crucial to respond

Responding to reviews right away, no matter what they say, is very important. “It’s a good practice to respond to all reviews. If it’s a glowing positive review, thank the customer. This shows them that you value them and they will be more likely to come back. If it’s a not so favorable review, address it and see what you can do to make it better. Sometimes it’s just a case of miscommunication and by responding you clear up any issue and convert it into a positive review,” says Darryl Howard of Boca Raton Med Spa.

Claim your listings.

Most legitimate review websites and business directories will allow you to claim the listing as a business owner. Not only does this allow you to build the profile to help your business, like give you a link back to your website and allow you to include a description and photos, but it will also usually set you up with a notification alert when new reviews are placed.”There are a lot of SEO benefits of directory listings and review site listings. They tend to rank high in the search results, so if you focus on attracting a lot of great reviews that information will be shown in the form of stars and the number of reviews generally, which just helps attract more attention to your business,” says Christopher VanDeCar, CEO of Optimally Organic.

Encourage reviews

If you simply do nothing and expect the reviews to come flooding in, you will be disappointed. If you want more reviews, simply ask for them. Most consumers don’t think about doing it unless you ask them or unless they have a horrible experience. When someone is mad, they want to be heard. They feel better when they voice their displeasure, so only negative reviews will come without a little nudge.

“Sometimes sending an email or including a little note in the bags of a customer that simply asks them to share their experience is a great way to keep them coming in on a regular basis,” says Jake Braun of Harley Davidson motorcycles website ChopperExchange. You don’t want to offer a bribe directly because that is unethical, but you can say something like, “We love when our customers share their experience. Here is 10% off your next purchase as a thank you.”