Online Reviews - A Necessary Evil

August 4, 2015
By: Voldico

Business reviews on sites like Google and Yelp can make or break your agency’s online presence.

Potential customers are making snap decisions when searching for an insurance agent on the internet. If you have little-to-no reviews or bad ratings, you probably won’t make the cut.

In addition, the quality and amount of reviews that you have can also influence your rankings on Google. Businesses with poor reviews or no reviews rarely show up in page-one search results.

Why Are Reviews So Important?

Reviews give your business credibility and help customers gauge whether or not you’re an agency they want to do business with.

Which business would you choose -- an agency with no reviews or a few 1-star rants about how awful the customer service is, or a business with dozens of 3-5 star reviews that range from satisfactory to positive raves about the customer service and quality?

It’s a pretty simple choice.

How Do You Get Reviews?

Some industries get lots of online reviews with little or no effort. Restaurants are a great example: people love to talk about food and the experience they had. Sites like Yelp thrive on this, encouraging reviews and photo uploads.

Insurance is more like going to the dentist or filing taxes. It’s not something most people enjoy doing, and once it’s over, they have immediately moved on to other things. Most customers won’t even think to leave a review for you -- unless their experience with you was a bad one.

Unfortunately, directly asking for reviews is frowned on and can get you into trouble on sites like Yelp. Offering discounts or gift cards for a review -- good or bad -- can get your listing taken down completely.

So how do you get people to leave reviews in the first place?

  • Listings on Google My Business or Yelp are review-oriented. Providing links to these on your site or in your email signature will allow for people to find these pages naturally.
  • Dedicate a page on your website to online reviews -- send your customers there, explain the review process, and provide links to your Google and Yelp pages. 
  • Get some stickers to put in your business window as gentle reminders.

What If You Get a Bad Review? How Do You Respond?

The bottom line about reviews is you can’t control what people say about you. All you can do is provide the best service possible. But sometimes that won’t be enough.

Bad reviews are actually a golden opportunity in disguise. Show potential customers that, even if your service was bad for that one interaction, you’re professional enough to take it in stride and offer a solution or apology to the reviewer.

The most important thing to do is to respond to it, but not before doing the second most important thing: take some time -- whether it’s five minutes, an hour, or overnight -- to make sure you’re calm and the review is in context. Maybe you didn’t interact with this particular customer yourself, so take the opportunity to talk with your employees and gather details.

When you respond, do it coolly and calmly. Do not berate or belittle the reviewer. Remember that your response will be public, and that’s a good thing.