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updated 10/17/2014 11:15:07 PM ET 2014-10-18T03:15:07

Reviews have become a way for customers to sort out the bad from the good before they decide to do business with a company. Sites like Yelp and Angie’s List have brought customer reviews to the forefront, encouraging candid feedback from past customers to help prospective ones make effective purchase decisions. 

A study last year by BrightLocal  of more than 2,000 American and Canadians consumers found that 85 percent of those surveyed read reviews before deciding where to spend their money. Be sure you can trustworthy your business is trustworthy before a customer even encounters it.

Customers typically have these questions: Can I trust the reviews I read? How do I know that these reviews are not sanitized? Yelp made it clear in  an official post that it does not reward advertisers by posting only favorable reviews about their businesses. Angie’s List refuses to take anonymous reviews  to maintain the integrity of its reviews. 

The way to make sure customers can trust a review about your company is to encourage honesty in reviews about your business. Follow these steps:

Related: Why Businesses Can't Afford to Upset Customers (Infographic)

Acknowledge all reviews about your business whether they are positive or negative and thank the customer for his or her comment. This lets customers know that you are listening and appreciate that they bothered to comment about your company, even if it's constructive feedback.   

Should there be a negative comment, correct the issue. This will go a long way toward building trust with your customer base and those not yet clients. People will be impressed that you are humble enough to recognize when your business has been wrong and courageous enough to admit it and fix the problem.

And this gives you an opportunity to shine in the eyes of that frustrated customer, as well prospective clients. They will see that you do care because you have listened and responded.

Related: The Secret to Recovering From a Negative Customer Review

Whether you received good feedback or not, show thanks. Each single person who commented cared enough about your business to provide feedback. This takes time and effort that people didn't need to put out. Find ways to reward them, with loyalty cards, coupons, referral bonuses or just a thank-you note. 

One of my students was allegedly offered less than $100 to remove a bad review of a local plumber. A plumber not able to handle negative feedback might not know how to fix problems -- only how to avoid them.

The best way to build trust with customers you've yet to meet is to encourage the honesty of current customers. Ask for feedback, be grateful for it and make it clear that you listen when your customers speak. 

Related: Taming Online Customer Bullies, Cranks and the Like

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