Growing a business

Why Online Reviews are Important for Growing Your Practice

Forget for a moment that you’re an accountant; think of yourself as a consumer, first. A restaurant goer. An online shopper. How do you make a purchase decision? How do you decide which restaurant to go to?

According to Vendasta, if you’re like 92 percent of people, you read online reviews and the ratings that go along with them. And, if you see something you like, and that review confirms your thinking, you’ll order that item or make that reservation. Why? Because that’s how people shop in the digital age.

Is it any different for people looking for an accountant? Not likely.

Online Reviews and Ratings For Accountants

Let’s put the suit back on now. Why is it important for you, as a business person, to be aware of the online reviews associated to your practice? Actually, it’s for the same reasons as listed above. People shop for an accountant or a firm the same way they for do goods. They rely on the opinions of others, read up on your personality, team and services, as written by people like themselves, and then make a decision.

Unlike restaurants, though, there are few dedicated websites that allow people to review individual accounting professionals or firms. These reviews are more likely to take place on the big channels: Google and Facebook.

So, what are the steps you must take to ensure that reviews are taking place on your channels, you stay on top of what’s being written, the reviews remain positive and people choose your firm?

  1. Ensure that reviews are taking place on your channels: To start, claim your business listing on Google and Facebook. This will not only ensure that your contact information is accurate on these channels, but also signal to potential reviewers that you’re present. Before you claim, gauge the reviews that are there, if any, to get a sense of the frequency of reviews, sentiment of your firm and your ratings.
  2. Stay on top of what’s being written: Once the claim has been made and approved, keep a tab open on your browser or watch your alerts to ensure you’re aware when someone reviews your business. Vendasta says 40 percent of people form an opinion after reading just three reviews, so it’s important to be proactive and thank the people who have taken the time to give you a review. If a client is expressing frustration, show you’re willing to solve any problems by commenting to the client. This will also signal to potential clients that you care about relationships and take the time to reply.
  3. Keep the reviews positive: There are techniques you can use to ensure reviews are positive. Consider emailing your best clients to ask them for a review on Google or Facebook. Send them the links to these listings so they can leave their review on the correct listing. There are other tools available as well, including in-house kiosks that allow you to prescreen your clients before you email them a request to review your business online. Vendasta reports that 51 percent of people select a local business if it has positive reviews, so you can begin to see the importance of encouraging people to give praise online. 
  4. People choose your firm: By keeping the conversation positive, showing people you have interest in what they say and ensuring that you’re heard, too, prospects will start inquiring about your business. And, as accountants, you’ll really love this next part: you can quantify the impact on your business. By applying a simple sales funnel to those who call from your listing, click through to your website from it or look up directions, you can start to see what conversions from your business listing look like. Apply your close rate and the average value of a client, and you can start to understand the value of your listings.

The statistics are clear. Reviews have a definitive impact on your business. They also have a real impact on your SEO. The more reviews you collect, the more likely your business listing will appear in search results. The more your business listing appears in search results, the greater the number of people who will discover you. The math is simple. The time to start thinking about online reviews is now.

Tell Us Your Story!

Are you keeping track of your online reviews? Do you have a story about how an online review has positively impacted the growth of your practice? Share your stories with me; I would love to hear from you!

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