Surveys have found that consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from their friends. It’s obvious that these online testimonials carry a lot of weight as businesses find that better reviews can increase sales. Yelp reports their users see a 5% to 9% increase for each one-star improvement to their ratings. Here are some suggestions for how to make the most of the online review process.

Claim Your Business First, make sure that you’ve claimed your business listing with Facebook, Google My Business and Yelp in order to respond to reviews and get notifications about what people are saying. Post your hours, contact information and any other basic information that may help customers find you.

Some business owners think if they don’t claim their business listing that it will save them from getting negative reviews, but that’s not true. People can leave reviews on unclaimed pages because these sites use publicly available information to create a basic page for you. Then people are free to leave reviews, and you won’t be able to address them until you claim the page.

Respond to All Reviews
Some people only respond to negative reviews, but it’s just as important to thank customers and fans for their kind words. Let your fans know that their kudos mean a lot to you and that you are listening because honest feedback makes your business better.

Make Bad Reviews Right
It can be alarming to see people saying negative things about your business, but don’t ignore a bad review. With an appropriate response, Yelp cites that 33% of negative reviews turn positive! Make sure to apologize and attempt to resolve the situation privately, such as through an email or phone call. Mistakes happen, but your genuine concern will show that you care about fixing the problem and getting this person back as a customer.

Flag Fraud
Some business owners also tell us that they’re worried about disgruntled employees, competitors or other people lying and leaving bad reviews. If you see anything suspicious or know outright that the person is lying, you can flag that review or submit a request for the moderators to take it down. These sites know that fraud can happen and usually have an easy process for investigating suspected issues.

That’s how to make the most of online review sites and customer feedback. Be aware of how to report inappropriate reviews, respond to all the rest and you will help to ensure your dispensary’s positive perception.

Samantha Toth is the resident marketing rockstar for Innereactive Media, a full-service marketing company specializing in the optical industry, in Grand Rapids, MI.

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