customer reviewsBusiness owners recognize the importance of online customer reviews and the way they influence other consumers. Customers enjoy sharing their experiences, and their posts on websites like Yelp and Angie’s List impact the purchasing decisions of readers.

Customers’ reviews currently exceed regular, business ads. A Zendesk survey found that positive online reviews influenced the decisions of 90% of participants. Negative reviews influenced 86% of participants.

Businesses often focus on the bad reviews, but the best strategy to overcome one or two bad opinions is to receive more good reviews. Since businesses and services are now defined by those who experience it, it is important to encourage customers to write about their positive experiences with your business.

Here are five tips for getting good reviews:

1. Create profiles on review sites. Set profiles up on sites that are most relevant to your business. Some sites to consider are Yelp, Angie’s List, LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, Google Local, and Yahoo Local.

2. Ask customers to leave reviews, and make it easy for them to do so. Your customers know the importance of reviews, and if you provided them with a great product or service, they’ll be happy to write a review. Try to ask as soon as possible as most customers would rather write a review immediately than later. Also, the easier it is for them to leave review, the more likely they are to do so. Include links to your profiles on review sites on your website, in your newsletters, and in your follow-up emails to customers. Don’t expect your customers to go and search for ways to leave a review.

3. Offer incentives for reviews. Writing a review takes time, and your customers will appreciate an incentive as recognition of their input. The incentive could be as simple as entering a monthly drawing for giveaways. Be sure to offer incentives for all reviews and not only for the good ones.

4. Thank your reviewers. When possible, thank each customer who leaves a review for your business. You can also send top reviewers freebies and coupon codes. This will encourage your customers to come back and to continue to talk about your products or services.

5. Make reviews a part of your work processes. Train your employees to solicit reviews from customers. You may even choose to offer incentives to employees for encouraging and obtaining reviews. Choose something that could be a great motivator for your employees, such as parking spaces or cash bonuses.