It's no secret that online reviews are the go-to knowledge base for consumers. No one is more qualified to inform a potential customer about a product than another customer. Because of the widespread success of these systems, quite a lot of companies have considered investing in an online review system that will inform and educate users based on past customers' experiences.

In developing these systems, a few elements stand out as critical to their functionality. To help us understand what those crucial factors are, we asked 12 members of Forbes Agency Council about what businesses seeking to implement an online review methodology should remember or include in their final iteration of the system.

Members share their best tips for creating a successful online business review system.

1. Make It Easy To Leave Reviews

Making it easy for your customers to leave reviews starts by really knowing your customer. How do they prefer to communicate? Do they prefer email or text message? You want to request the review the way they prefer. Don't expect them to just go find where to leave the review. Make sure the link is provided and they are one click away from telling the world about their great experience with you. - Katie Harris, Spot On Solutions


2. Be Very Responsive

Immediately following up with a customer after the delivery of a product is key. If there's a poor review, that provides you the opportunity to immediately remedy the situation rather than letting it drag on. If it's a positive review, getting the details right and getting it published is critical. - Douglas Karr, DK New Media

3. Anticipate Negative Feedback

Create a plan for handling negative reviews. These will show up at some point for every business, regardless of whether they’re warranted. While your response must be tailored to the review’s specific details, building an effective response template in advance can speed up your reaction time and ensure you’re integrating all of the necessary elements into your response. - Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions

Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

4. Respond To Every Review

One thing that can be very hard is responding to every review. Sometimes, there are going to be some that are very negative and there may just be an unhappy customer. The thing that is very important is to remember that every bit of feedback offers you an opportunity to shine, even if the customer just seems like they are looking for trouble. It is up to you to really take feedback. - Jon James, Ignited Results

5. Use NPS And Incentivize Advocates

Our clients often are using Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys to identify customer service issues, but not to identify customer advocates. Often, NPS surveys are not done by the marketing department and marketing doesn't see the results. The first step to an effective online review management program is to get the advocates in the hands of marketing so they can make that advocacy visible online. - Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

6. Focus On Authenticity

Nothing turns off a potential customer like an insincere review that was obviously paid for by a brand but not disclosed as such. Conversely, authentic reviews provide social proof and build up brand trust over time. Try partnering with influencers who are an organic fit with your brand for in-depth, nuanced reviews on social platforms, and provide clear disclosure while doing so. - Danielle Wiley, Sway Group

7. Show That You Value The Customer's Opinion

The second the product is delivered, schedule an automated email asking the customer for their feedback on the buying experience and the product. This is a critical touchpoint that not every brand is using and it shows that you value the customer’s opinion. If a problem arises or a negative review is brewing, the company can step in to correct it swiftly offline versus in the public domain. - Kathleen Lucente, Red Fan Communications

8. Focus On Platforms Where Your Audience Is

Remember to focus your review process efforts on the review platforms that the majority of your audience will see. This could be Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, etc. If you are a restaurant, your best bet might be Yelp. If you're a law firm, maybe Google My Business would be better. There is no use implementing a review process if the right people aren't going to use it. - Bernard May, National Positions

9. Don't Forget To Include Colleagues

Consumer reviews are not only a great way to generate free marketing insights to use in communication but a fantastic way to get feedback to research and development, supply chain, sales departments. When creating an online review process don't forget your colleagues and show them the incredible value shoppers leave behind. - Luigi MatroneeBusiness Institute

10. Don't Overlook Reviews In B2B Realm

It's important to remember that peer reviews are also critical in the business-to-business realm. In fact, the C-suite relies on reviews for a big part of their purchase decisions. That's why B2B marketers today should focus on generating positive customer reviews and then invest in directing prospects to those reviews. - Paula Chiocchi, Outward Media, Inc.

11. Ask A Qualifying Question First

Before you ask for a review, ask to be sure that the person has a positive feeling about your company, product or service. Most review processes route negative feelings to be captured but not be part of a publicly seen review. Customers with positive feelings can be routed to a social network, review platform or website to capture the positive response. - Jim Caruso, M1PR, Inc. d/b/a MediaFirst PR - Atlanta

12. Make Sure Your Timing Is Right

It's crucial to ask customers for reviews at the right time, preferably within a short period of time after receiving the product. Contacting customers too late or too early are both big mistakes. You should test the timing, cadence and messaging to learn what works best for that specific audience, and then set up an automation schedule accordingly. - Matt Bowman, Thrive Internet Marketing Agency