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How to get online reviews in 4 easy steps

Online reviews help your business rank higher in Google, so if your business doesn’t have any golden stars there are ways you can change that.

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Online reviews

Here are reasons why you should get online reviews from your customers.

  • Reviews help your business rank higher in Google.
  • Reviews really stand out in search engines due to their graphical representation.
  • Almost 8 in 10 costumers read online reviews before they choose a local business.
  • Positive online reviews are by far the best way to influence new customers.
  • 88% of customers say they trust online reviews from strangers as much as recommendations from their friends and family.
  • Ultimately, it will increase your profit margins.

So, if your business doesn’t have any golden stars yet, then it’s time for you to collect some.

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Start with the biggest online review providers

There are many online review providers but when it comes to local business reviews, Google is one of the major players.

  • Open a browser window and head over to google.com.
  • In the search box, type a local query, for example, “beauty salon in Lagos”.
  • Since this is a very localized search, Google displays its “local pack” result which includes a map and 3 local businesses.

Online reviews

[READ ALSO: Stay ahead of your competitors with these tips]

Whenever available, Google will display for each business, the average rating, the number of stars and the number of reviews customers have posted.

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In an example of two businesses, one with a star rating of 4.3 while the other has 3.8, which one would you click on? Needless to say that the listings with higher star ratings really stick out. This type of behaviour has become extremely common when consumers are searching for local businesses. Since Google is still and will be, the main search engine for the foreseeable future, you cannot ignore it.

Having those coveted stars right below your listing will certainly fill prospective customers with confidence. First thing you’ll need to do is to create a ‘Google my business profile’. Once done, you will have to encourage your customers to leave reviews about your business.

Get reviews from your customers 

Let’s start with two golden rules if you want to get golden stars.

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  • “PROVIDE EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE”. Sounds obvious? Not for everyone. People will be naturally inclined to post a review if you’re nice to them.
  • “DO NOT INCENTIVISE OR PAY TO GET REVIEWS”.
  • OK, the next thing you need to do is to make it easy for your customers to leave reviews.

[READ ALSO: Is it a smart business move for parents to employ their children?]

How to make it easy for customers to leave reviews?

  • Set up a page on your site that is dedicated to reviews with links to your chosen review sites. (Google must be part of your list along with another couple of other sites). Your link should look like mywebsite.com/reviews.
  • You can now start encouraging people to visit your newly created page. Add a “see what they say” or “Customer feedback” link across your web pages.
  • Add the mywebsite.com/reviews link to all of your email communications as it will get picked up along the way.
  • Hand out a “thank you for your visit or thank you for your purchase” card to your customers where you can also feature the link.
  • Post your link on your stationery such as business cards.
  • Automatically generate the link to your invoices or receipt.
  • If you send a monthly newsletter don’t forget to add your review link on it.
  • If you have some loyal customers simply ask them to post some feedback either via email or by phone. (always check guidelines from the review sites you have chosen to use)

If you use these techniques, you will definitely start seeing reviews being posted in no time and hopefully, get those little stars in Google but don’t rub your hands so quickly as not everyone will give you a 5-star rating. You need to manage your reviews.

Manage your reviews 

Ok let’s face it, you can’t please everyone and you will get some bad reviews… and that’s fine since only good reviews would look entrusting.

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Customer reviews

So what do you need to do?

  • Address and own the issue as quickly as possible, it will show you care and you are willing to fix the problem.
  • Make sure your response is well written with no spelling or grammatical error and in a professional manner.
  • Describe what you are doing to fix the problem so it will not happen to future customers
  • Do not use pre-written answers, make it personal. Make sure your replies are honest and genuine.
  • You may sometimes come across some customers who just simply want to pick a battle no matter what. In this case, do the best you can, and if your best is not enough you may have to let it go.
  • Do take the time to respond to some positive reviews too and thank some customers for their feedback and their custom. It will help build rapport with your client base.

[READ ALSO: Tips on how SMEs and startups can secure venture capital funding]

Final words

Getting online reviews is not a one-off marketing tactic but a continuous effort. As in real life, you would want permanent satisfied clients and not just for a few weeks. Allocate a regular slot in your schedule to see what your customers are saying about you and encourage them to post some positive reviews. You won’t regret it and it will certainly help put your business on the map.

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Patricia
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Business

CITN issues rejoinder to ICAN’s claim over court case

The rebuttal claims that there are some ‘critical misinterpretations’ contained in ICAN’s claims concerning the judgment.

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CITN

The Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) has issued a rebuttal to the “critical misrepresentations” that are supposedly contained in a notice to members sent out by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) over a court case, as reported by Nairametrics.

Recall that ICAN had informed its members that Justice S. A. Onigbanjo of the High Court of Lagos State ruled in their favour by striking out “Suit No. LD/3288GCM/19 – CITN VS ICAN” which was filed by CITN. In the suit, CITN had, among other things, prayed the court to restrain ICAN members from filing tax returns with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) unless they have a CITN license.

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CITN’s position: Now, in its rebuttal to ICAN’s claims concerning the court case, a copy of which was sent to Nairametrics, CITN clarified the following points:

  1. The Ruling of the Hon. Justice S. A. Onigbanjo of the 2/7/2020 in LD/3288GCM/19 did not invalidate the MOU and TOS because it did NOT address the issues in the substantive suit, itself. However, since ICAN has resiled from the MoU and ToS it freely entered with CITN, the CITN will not stop ICAN from walking away.
  2. The Judge only struck out the suit based on the Preliminary Objection of ICAN to the effect that the suit was an abuse of court process because the issues in it were the same as the issues in FHC/L/CS/125/2019 – ICAN VS FIRS & 1 OTHER which was earlier decided in favour of CITN.  However, the issues in the two suits are completely different and distinct as has now been explicitly admitted by ICAN in its Notice under reference when it said: “The earlier ruling at the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/125/2019 did not make pronouncement on the memorandum and terms of settlement between ICAN and CITN.”ICAN having admitted  that the judgment in FHC/L/CS/125/2019 did not make any pronouncement on the MOU and TOS (and this is a fact), how then could issues in that suit be the same as those in LD/3288GCM/2019 (decided by Justice Onigbanjo) which only asked for judicial pronouncement on the MOU and TOS?
  3. Regulation 5 of the Tax Administration (Self-Assessment) Regulations, 2011, was categorically annulled by the Hon. Justice Liman in the judgment delivered in FHC/L/CS/125/2019 on 21/11/2019.  None of the lawyers to the parties (including ICAN) can deny hearing the annulment of Regulation 5 during delivery of the judgment. It is unfortunate that ICAN is jumping the gun in a case with a pending post-judgment application.
  4. In the judgment delivered in FHC/L/CS/1480/2018 – CHIEF IGBAROOLA & OTHERS VS FIRS & OTHERS on 21/5/2019, the Hon. Justice A. O. Faji, declared: “CITN Act is thus superior to ICAN Act on the issue of tax practice.  The Self-Assessment Regulations being in conflict with the CITN Act is null and void.  The Plaintiffs cannot practice as tax agents without first being members of the 2nd Defendant.”
  5. In the Court of Appeal judgement of 2013 between ICAN v. CITN, it was held that the power to regulate and control the tax profession, to the exclusion of any other body, in Nigeria lies with CITN.
  6. It is, therefore, now firmly settled from all the relevant judgements at the Lagos High Court, Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, which have all upheld the primacy of the CITN Charter, that no member of ICAN can practice taxation without first being a member of CITN.
  7. For the avoidance of doubt, no ICAN member, who is not registered with CITN, has been permitted by any law or court decision to practice taxation. The law has made it clear about the professional body that can regulate tax profession in Nigeria and CITN reserves the right to invoke the relevant provisions against any person that violates the provisions of its charter.

The backstory: The disagreement between ICAN and CITN dates back to 2015 following a misinterpretation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Terms of Settlement (ToS) between the two organisations. Due to the disagreement, CITN took legal actions in a bid to basically make the MoU and ToS binding on ICAN members.


You may read CITN’s full rejoinder by clicking here and follow up on ICAN’s notice to its members here.

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Patricia
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UPDATED: Court rules ICAN members do not need CITN license to file tax returns

The suit, which was filed some years ago by CITN, was basically struck out for lacking merit.

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ICAN

Justice S. A. Onigbanjo of the High Court of Lagos State has ruled that members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) do not need to be licensed by the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) before they can file tax returns.

The ruling on July 2nd followed a suit filed by CITN trying to restrain ICAN members from filing tax returns for their clients unless they have a practicing CITN license.

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A notice to ICAN members regarding this development, as seen by Nairametrics, noted that Justice Onigbanjo struck out the suit after describing it as “an abuse of court process and an embarrassment to the judiciary.”

The backstory: Nairametrics understands that the disagreement between ICAN and CITN stemmed from the misinterpretation of a 2015 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Terms of Settlement (ToS) between the two organisations. Consequently, CITN had filed a suit before the High Court of Lagos State, seeking the following:

  • A declaration that the Memorandum of Understanding and Terms of Service both dated February 12, 2015 between the CITN and ICAN are valid, subsisting, and binding on the CITN and ICAN.
  • An injunction restraining ICAN whether by its agents, privies, assigns, or whosoever called, from repudiating, resiling from or acting in any manner or doing anything that is inconsistent with, contrary to or is a violation of the Memorandum of Understanding and the Terms of Settlement dated February 12, 2015, between the CITN and ICAN.
  • Determine whether the Memorandum of Understanding and Terms of Settlement both dated February 12, 2015 between the CITN and ICAN are valid, subsisting, and binding on CITN and the ICAN.

However, last week’s ruling by Justice S. A. Onigbanjo which, by the way, was delivered virtually due to COVID-19, has made it impossible for the CITN to implement the terms of the 2015 MoU and ToS. The ruling also aligned with ICAN’s earlier objection to the MoU and ToS.

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The status quo: In view of this development, ICAN has informed its members that they do not need to obtain any license from the CITN before they can file tax returns for their clients with the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS.

ICAN members were also informed that an earlier ruling by the Federal High Court on the case does not affect the status quo. This is because “the earlier ruling by the Federal High Court in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/125/2019 did not make pronouncement on the memorandum and terms of settlement between ICAN and CITN.” More so, regulation 5 of the FIRS Act was not reflected in the earlier judgment of the Federal High Court.

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Patricia
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China more willing to restructure Africa’s debt than private creditors

Agreements have been easier to reach with Chinese lenders than with private creditors.

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A recent study by John Hopkins University reveals it may be easier for African Nations to raise debt and also get debt relief from China than private creditors.

The report of the study comes a day after China promised to cancel interests from loans to African nations and restructure debt to Africa. The study also revealed that China has restructured $15 billion of African debt and written off $3.4 billion in the past ten years.

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After 1,000 Chinese loans, including restructured Mozambican and Republic of Congo debt, were analysed, the researchers concluded that “the agreements have been easier to reach with Chinese lenders than with private creditors”.

The Paris Club recently agreed to pause debt payment valued at $11 billion for the poorest 73 nations freeing up capital to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. However, not all eligible nations signed up citing fears of default ratings if debt obligations are not met.

The study discovers difficulties in renegotiating terms on International Bonds for African countries due to the disparate ownership structure making private creditors unwilling to grant complete debt relief, citing warnings on rating downgrades.

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China accounts for about 20% of Africa’s external debt and lent over $150 billion to the continent between 2000-2018 the study reveals. Chinese President, Xi Jinping has urged global leaders to be more pragmatic with debt suspension for Africa.

The study says much of the terms of Chinese debt to Africa has not been transparent and the relief negotiations may follow the same path.

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Patricia
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