Who doesn’t love a positive review from a satisfied customer? Every business owner knows the value of positive reviews – and they’ve never been more important than they are right now.
Did you know that more than 80% of all consumers say that they trust a product review from a stranger as much as they would a personal recommendation from a friend? Not only that, people trust user reviews more than the official descriptions of products.
If you’re thinking of customer reviews as something that you can’t control, think again. Business owners can do a lot to encourage reviews – and of course, you can increase the chance that most of your reviews will be positive by providing excellent quality and service.
Still, those things aren’t enough. You can’t afford to sit back and hope that customers leave reviews of your business.
Fortunately, you don’t have to take a backseat to your customer’s whims. Here are six smart ways you can get more positive reviews online.
#1: Email Customers After a Purchase
Do you send customers an email after they make a purchase?
I’m not talking about the confirmation email where you send them an order number if they order online. I mean an email where you specifically ask them how they like your product and request that they write a review.
This is a practice that’s become increasingly common – and for a good reason. Some people automatically leave reviews for everything. They’re the well-known Yelpers who have thousands of reviews.
Many people need a reminder. They’re not going to leave a review of their own accord – but they just might if you ask them nicely. This is the review version of the call to action on your website. It’s a specific request to take a specific action.
Try sending your review request email a week to ten days after the purchase. That way, the customer will have had a chance to use your product and may be ready to offer an opinion.
#2: Empower Your Employees to Ask for Reviews
Sometimes, making the right request at the right time is all it takes to get the reviews you want. That’s why it makes sense to have your employees ask for reviews.
Some Uber drivers do this. Just before they arrive at their passenger’s destination, they ask about the review. The simple request puts the idea of leaving a review in the customer’s mind and greatly increases the chances that they’ll comply and leave a review.
Why ask at the point of service? When a customer has just made a purchase or used your service, the experience is fresh. A cashier who provides a friendly checkout and some banter is ideally placed to ask for a review because they have an opportunity to build rapport with the customer.
If you decide to use this method of getting reviews, consider printing cards asking for reviews and putting links to your review pages on your website. You don’t want customers to be confused about what to do – so eliminate the guesswork and you’ll reap the rewards.
#3: Use a Reviews Provider
The benefit of using these providers is that they can get you a bunch of reviews at once. They’re real reviews from real people and they can give your page instant credibility.
The downside is that the reviews aren’t from your customers. They’re from people who have bought the product – and they’re all verified. That’s the good part. The less-great part is that they can’t and won’t be providing reviews of YOUR business, including your ambience, customer service, and other key drivers of business.
These providers are a good option for start-up businesses because they can make your website appear to be well-established and popular. As you go, you can supplement the reviews you get through a service with new reviews from your customers.
#4: Try to Get a Google Local Guide to Review Your Company
Google Local Guide is a program owned by Google that designates certain reviewers as local experts.
The process of getting a local guide can be a complex one, but here are some tips to help you do it:
Make sure your Google My Business listing is up-to-date and active
Join Google Local Guides on your own – you can write reviews of local businesses and raise your visibility provided you don’t use the platform to promote or favor your business
Attend local events with other guides
Invite other guides to come to your business
This isn’t a quick fix, but the nice thing about Google Local Guides is that when a local guide reviews your business, their designation shows up in the review and that gives it more weight than it would have otherwise. Another benefit is that Google requires guides to use their real names, so there’s less of the anonymous ranting that shows up on Yelp.
#5: Automate the Asking Process
If there’s a way for you to automate the process of asking for reviews, why wouldn’t you do it?
Automation means that there’s no worry that a stressed-out employee will forget to ask. It turns the process into part of your customer service – a hands-off way of encouraging customer feedback and garnering the kinds of reviews you want.
Here are a few suggestions to help you automate your system:
Set up an autoresponder to send an email requesting a review. Instead of manually sending those emails, link the date of a customer’s purchase to their email and have it go out on schedule. If you link customer purchases to your email marketing provider, you can rest easy knowing that every customer will get a request for a review.
Print up review request cards and put them in the customer’s bag at checkout. This method eliminates the need for your cashier to ask for a review, and makes it simple to do even at times when you’re busy and have a line at the register.
Put review links on your product pages. That way, when a customer makes a purchase they can easily read reviews of it – and it may help to remind them to leave a review after their purchase.
Automating your review request system makes good business sense because it eliminates the guesswork.
#6: Set Up a Review System in Your Company
Even if your business is small, you shouldn’t fly by the seat of your pants when you’re requesting reviews. The method you use to ask for reviews should be part of your company’s standard operating procedures.
Your review system should:
Specify whose job it is to ask for reviews
Specify the language to be used when requesting a review
Specify methods to be used (email, conversation, links and printed cards, to name a few)
Specify the timeframe for requesting reviews
Lay out procedures for responding to both positive and negative reviews
If you codify your system for requesting and managing reviews, you can be sure that there isn’t any confusion and that customers always get the request you want them to get.
Don’t Sweat the Negative Reviews…
We’ve focused here on garnering positive reviews for your business, but don’t get too stressed about negative reviews. If you handle them properly, they can help your business too!
Respond quickly and graciously and offer solutions. Don’t get defensive. Many businesses use negative feedback to demonstrate that they care about their customers.
If you’re getting so many reviews that you’re having trouble keeping up, you may want to consider using an online review management system to help you – and having too many reviews is the problem you want to have! That’s how businesses grow.