Online reviews are an essential part of your business’ online presence, but getting your customers to leave them can sometimes feel like pulling teeth.
Reviews are the lifeblood of your online reputation.
There’s nothing more important to your online reputation than reviews. Over the last several years, more and more people have started reading, trusting and relying on reviews to guide them in purchasing decisions online, and if your business doesn’t have many reviews, you’re doing yourself a disservice and you’re greatly undermining your business’ credibility online.
If you haven’t already, check out our last blog — Why You Should Start Asking for Reviews — to learn more about why people don’t often write reviews on their own (except for negative reviews), the many reasons as to why reviews are so important to the success of your business both online and offline, and why asking for a review doesn’t have to be taboo or sketchy.
Once you have a great understanding of just how impactful reviews can be for your business and why it’s important to ask for them, it’s time to talk about how you can generate more of those reviews for your business.
10 Tips to Help You Generate More Reviews
Tip #1. Make sure your clients know where to find you.
Which review sites is your business listed on — Google, Facebook, Yelp or Top Rated Local®? And which review sites are you most interested in your clients posting reviews on? Once you determine these things, it’s important to share that information with your clients. As we talked about in our last blog, getting clients to write reviews is difficult enough as it is in the first place, and when you make them hunt for which sites your business is listed on, it makes the prospect of them actually writing a review even bleaker.
Make sure that you make it clear to your customers where to find you both online and offline. Online, you could put badges on your website of the sites you’re listed on, or you could simply add a hyperlinked request for feedback at the bottom of your website. Offline, you could hang posters in your store or office about where to find the business online, and of course, it never hurts to ask a customer to write a review on a specific site in person, either.
Tip #2. Follow up with an email.
Most successful businesses understand that their job is not complete when the product is delivered or the service has been completed; the job is only done when you’ve followed up and learned that the customer is happy. Following up with an email in itself is a great way to demonstrate to your clients that you truly care and to find out how their experience was. It also shows a remarkable dedication to customer service, and your customers will surely take notice.
However, perhaps the biggest benefit of following up with your clients in an email is that you can easily direct them to the review sites your business is listed on without having to actually ask for a review in so many words. Simply include a link to the review site you would like them to post on, which a note that says something along the lines of, “Please share your feedback with others,” or, “Your feedback is important to us!”
Tip #3. Make sure that your customers know how much reviews matter!
Most people don’t leave reviews, even if they’ve had a spectacular experience, and it’s not because they are lazy or they don’t care whether or not the business succeeds. The truth is that, even though the vast majority of consumers read and rely on online reviews, most people simply don’t understand how essential online reviews are to the success of your business. That’s exactly why it’s important that you educate them!
If a customer tells you in person or over the phone how happy they are with your service, make sure they understand how valuable it will be for your business if they write a review about their experience. If you’ve genuinely done a great job, and they are truly happy with your service, they will have zero reservations about wanting to help you out by leaving you a review.
Tip #4. Request a review in a handwritten note.
Following up in an email is a great, relatively easy way to gauge your customers’ experience and ask for reviews, but an even better way to do so is with a hand-written note! This is especially powerful if you or a member of your team has been working one on one with the customer, and you’ve gotten to know them a more personal level than your typical client/business relationship.
Taking the time to thank them for their business, ask them for feedback and let them know where they can publish a review in your own handwriting will make a big impact. For one thing, it shows them that you actually care enough to take a few minutes out of your busy day to remember their name and the service or product you provided for them, and it will give them a better reason to take a few minutes out of their busy day to go online and write a review!
Tip #5. Incentivize your clients to write reviews.
When you’re following up with your clients — regardless of whether you do so via email or a handwritten note — you can encourage them to write a review in more ways than just asking them or mentioning where your business is listed. A little incentive never hurts, and you could give them a little more encouragement by including a gift card, a discount or some other promotion.
A note on incentivizing reviews:
It’s very important that you take note of the order in which your asking for a review and giving your clients an incentive. You should never give someone a gift with the understanding that it’s payment for a review — this is strictly prohibited and a very shady way to go about doing business. However, it’s perfectly acceptable to give them a gift regardless of whether they write a review or not, even if you’re doing so in the hopes that they will write one. The distinction is very fine, but it’s incredibly important for people who want to run ethical businesses.
Tip #6. Incentivize your employees to request reviews.
It can be a little awkward for business owners to directly ask their clients for reviews, and the same goes for your employees, too. When your employees ask for a review, it can feel almost like they’re asking to be rewarded for doing the job they’re paid to do — we get it. However, your employees make up the front lines of your business. They are who your customers interact with on a day-to-day basis, and they have the power to generate the most reviews for your business.
One of the best ways to help your employees get over the awkwardness of asking for reviews is by incentivizing them to get reviews. Here are a few ideas on how to do so:
- Have a contest to see which employee can get generate the most reviews.
- Give your employees a bonus or an extra hour of paid time off when they’ve been mentioned in a specific number of reviews.
- Every time an employee is mentioned in a review, call it out and recognize them.
- Have a raffle! Anytime someone gets a review, they get a raffle ticket, and at the end of the month, draw a ticket and reward your winner!
- Use the information you’ve gathered in feedback or reviews when making decisions about raises and bonuses.
Tip #7. Make it convenient for your clients to leave you a review.
Review sites don’t let just anyone leave reviews. If your client wants to leave a review on Facebook, for example, they have to be logged into Facebook in order to do so. The same goes for leaving reviews on Yelp, Google and every other review site. If your clients aren’t already active or don’t at least already have a login on these sites, the chances of them writing a review are slim to none, because not very many people would be willing to create a whole new account just to leave a review they aren’t inclined to write in the first place.
This means that you’ll get a lot more success out of requesting reviews if you do your best to make it convenient and easy for your clients to leave them for you. The best way to do this is to simply ask your clients how they found you. If they found you via Yelp, for example, or Facebook, there’s a strong chance that they already have an account on that platform and won’t have to take the extra steps of creating one.
Another way that you can make it easier for your clients to actually leave you a review is by offering free high-speed internet in your office or store. This way, you can ask them during the interaction and make it easy for them to write a review right then and there, and they won’t have to remember to do so later on.
Tip #8. Show your human side.
If you’ve spent much time talking to customers on the phone or communicating via email, you are probably already well aware of the fact that this method of communication can be dehumanizing. When people are interacting with you in these ways, it’s easier for them to talk down to you or be otherwise nasty because they don’t see your human side. Furthermore, it’s also easier for them to take things you say out of context.
One of the best ways to remedy this problem is by showing your clients your human side through face-to-face interactions. Whenever possible, try to have in-person meetings with your clients. And if your business is one that operates mostly over the phone and/or through email, you can remedy the problem by doing video calls or by sending a quick video thank you after the service has been rendered or the product has been delivered.
The bottom line is that, when your customers can see your face, it automatically makes them more compassionate, more friendly and much more willing to write a review for your business.
Tip #9. Give your customers a reason to write a review!
As we briefly touched on in our last blog, people who have had a negative experience are a lot more likely to take the time to write a review than people who have had a positive experience, and customer service by itself is often not enough to compel someone to leave a review. However, that doesn’t mean customer service isn’t important and that focusing on it isn’t an effective way to generate reviews.
In fact, in order to generate the kind of reviews you want and the kind that will make your business’ online reputation strong, you need to truly wow your clients so that they have something to talk about. Whether this means answering your phone at one in the morning to assuage their concerns, going back and fixing an issue free of charge or going the extra mile in the service you provide is completely up to you, but regardless of what you do, make sure it’s something that will make your clients want to spread the word.
Tip #10. Know when to ask!
So far, we’ve given you a lot of tips on how to ask for reviews, but perhaps just as important is when you ask for them, especially when you want quality reviews instead of just any reviews. For example, if your customer is incredibly upset and in the middle of yelling at you, it’s probably not the best time to ask for a review. On the other hand, if you’ve just solved an issue for them and earned back their trust with great service, it’s the perfect time to ask!
Take the first step towards being in control of your online reputation with Top Rated Local!
When it comes to your business’ online reputation, almost nothing is more important than generating reviews, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle, and luckily, Top Rated Local can help you find the rest of the tools you need to build the kind of online reputation you want. And the best part is that you have absolutely nothing to lose because it’s free to get listed!