Reviews matter. A 2011 online survey of 1,054 US adults by Cone revealed that 80% of respondents agreed with the statement: “Negative information I’ve read online has made me change my mind about purchasing a product or service recommended to me.” Besides knowing what’s being said about you online and responding, if appropriate, it’s also important to encourage your customers or clients to post positive reviews for you and your business.
Below you’ll find some tips on how to encourage positive reviews to boost your online reputation.
1. Ask happy customers. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it will also require more work on your part to ensure that you’re not broadcasting this information to those who are unhappy with you. Rather than posting a sign at your front desk or passing out fliers asking for online reviews, talk to your patients or customers individually. If you’re a medical professional, ask a patient with whom you’ve developed a great rapport over a series of visits, not someone who is visiting you for the first time. If you’re a business owner, ask a customer or client after they’ve told you what a great job you did. Thank them for the compliment, but tell them the best way to show their appreciation is to post a review.
2. Collect customer email addresses. If you’re still too shy to make the ask face-to-face, begin collecting the email addresses of your customers and clients. Just like in the previous example, keep track of who you’ve had a great experience with and ensure that they receive an email (and likewise, make sure that those who clearly were unhappy do not receive an email). Write a short email within a day or two of the last visit and be appreciative. Don’t send an email blast to your customer list at one time, review sites are skeptical about a sudden uptick in positive reviews and may refuse to publish reviews that look like they are part of a coordinated campaign. For best results, send a couple of requests a day over a long period of time.
3. No pay to play. Providing incentives for a positive review are a no-no. Sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp.com have been known to delete comments when it’s clear the writer was given a financial incentive. Yelp.com also investigates when too many positive reviews are coming in from new users; this could end up being detrimental to your business since all of those great reviews will be deleted.
4. Show them where to go: Don’t make your customers do all the work. Easily direct them to the websites that you’d like them to use for their online review. This can be on a flier or in the email.
No matter what your business or profession, your clients and customers are familiar with online reviews (they may have even chosen you because of your online reviews) and how they impact your online reputation. If they are a happy customer, they will be more than willing to share their positive experience with others, all you have to do is ask!
Useful input, Todd. But I disagree on your first bullet: I think it’s a little too easy just to ask your happy customers for reviews. In the real world you wouldn’t just leave your guest book or your ideas box open for fan boys, exclusively.
In fact, getting feedback from your critics can give some real insights about what you do wrong. And if you make sure to direct customers to a place where you can reply to their feedback in public, it is even more powerful than a list of straight A+’s. You show that you care, and that’s what potential customers need to know.
I recently wrote about why customers are motivated to leave positive reviews. Could be worth a read.