Google’s acquisition of Zagat week and Yelp’s excellent snarky response has brought customer reviews to the forefront of the news again, so it’s a good time to start thinking about how garnering more online reviews fits into your business.
Per a recent article by Andrew Shotland, when it comes to reviews there are four types of businesses:
Businesses that get most of their business from referrals, don’t get any online reviews and could care less about them (perhaps the biggest chunk of businesses).
Businesses that get most of their business from referrals, get online reviews and think that nobody reads them or cares.
Businesses that think reviews are hugely important and work hard to get a lot of them.
Businesses that think reviews are hugely important and work hard to get them, but don’t get many, if any.
What the types that rely heavily on referrals and ignore reviews don’t realize is that some time in the next year or two someone is going to write something about them online and there’s a good chance it’s going to be negative.
If it gets around, which it usually does thanks to Google, their referrals are at risk of drying up. If the first thing that shows up in Google for your brand is a negative, you are potentially screwed.
There are basically four ways to get an online customer review:
Via a Website
Via transcription from a hand-written review
Which method is right for you depends on how you conduct your business.
Here are some tips:
Some tips for asking customer reviews:
1. Don’t offer incentives. A percentage of your customers will do it for free. If you offer to pay your top brand ambassadors, it’s possible they will get turned off, which could hurt your business by dampening the enthusiasm of these mavens.
2. Make it easy for customers. Don’t send them a link to review you on Google unless they have a Gmail address.
3. Don’t ask people for Yelp reviews. This almost always backfires. You may get a few positive reviews in the short term, but if your customers are not active Yelpers, Yelp’s SPAM filters will eventually toast their reviews. You’ll end up with no reviews and potentially some angry customers who wonder why their work of review art disappeared.
4. Do it promptly. Don’t wait. People are most likely to give you feedback right away. The longer you go from the time of service to the time of request, the likelihood of getting reviews drops precipitously. According to Ted Paff, CEO of CustomerLobby, a review service, “Comment card reviews solicited at the time of service can see completion rates of 80-90%” vs. much lower rates for other forms of review solicitation.
5. If you have the customer’s email address, follow up your initial request three days later with a reminder email containing links of where to for review submissions. Reminder emails can account for a huge percentage of review conversions.