Growing a small business takes time. In this modern age of instant communication, there are several shortcuts to the old-fashioned word of mouth. Online business review sites are something dissatisfied customers use to warn others. Often to retaliate against what they found to be an unfair business. The only industry customers actively participate in leaving positive reviews on a consistent basis is for dining. Your dentist could be incredibly gentle. Giving them an enthusiastic Yelp review is not something that crosses most patients’ minds.
Having a solid Yelp score with numerous reviews is the new form of the yellow pages for many businesses outside the food industry. Thus it is crucial to heighten your standing with this and other similar sites. Good service is something we expect. And repeat business is the reward for a job well done. When something goes wrong we feel a social responsibility to warn others. Rightly so, but when the company did a wonderful job there is less of that urge to spread the word. Here are a few ways you can request online reviews from your clientele.
Ask in Person
This is the gold standard but honestly not that efficient. In person, people will agree to make the situation go away or even respond affirmatively but then forget moments later. Asking for an online review in person does stick with the client, even if they don’t do it. I had some wonderful hotel service in 2013 and it took me almost two years to write the review but my conscious caught up with me. Simply because the amazing concierge who helped me book early asked in person. As you are completing service for a client or customer, request them to review their experience on a particular site. Be specific about one site. You may want to focus on building your Yelp reviews for a while. Then switch to Trip Advisor or Clutch depending on your business. Focus on one at a time when asking in person. Mention it in a respectful and sincere tone. Even with dissatisfied customers, you should still mention the review. Don’t offer the review as a means of telling them to scram. Offer to do everything within reason to remedy the situation but as an honest way of expressing their experience. Even those with a bad experience will respect the honesty and fear your bravery for being able to take a negative review. In fact, having a perfect 5-star review looks deceiving to the unknowing customer. There will always be some haters so aim at a 4.9 out of 5 to show that your business is legit.
Follow Up Email
After doing business with a client, send them a review email within a month. This could include a questionnaire for your own private corporate purposes. Also, it could have a link to the various sites you want to receive reviews on and have the link directly to your page. Don’t make them search for it. Add a catchy but unique phrase like “don’t forget to review us on Yelp” but make it your own. A memorable request phrase I have seen was for a plumbing repair business that said, “Burst our pipes” then included their Yelp link.
Send an email for the client to leave a review. Have it sent from your personal email rather than your company one. In this way, you are asking for a favor that is not directly business related. Just add a few kind words about the experience from your perspective and provide the direct link. Remember to remove any other social media links in the signatures. You want this to be direct and easy. You could assist them further by including an example of a good review you received. Also try coming up with a few words you think they may want to include.
Be careful when offering incentives. Yelp specifically prohibits companies from offering discounts in exchange for reviews; however, this has not stopped many companies. You can offer incentives to your own employees to push the reviewing process. Make them want to mention the reviews with monetary rewards. As for the customer, thank them for a positive review. This shows that you read what they said and take their words to heart. Respond even for negative reviews trying to smooth over the situation as best you can.
When it comes to reviews, you mainly want to build your stars but you also want some impressive comments. When sending a request via personal email you should bring up reference points for the potential review based on the experience. This will provide the client with a springboard of topics to leave in the comments section. It also serves to jog their memory about the service you provided. If you have that you know is good with words, definitely push it. People like reading humorous and well-written reviews. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself with this. Some reviewers get a nostalgia for being a professional critic and like to play with words. Let them know you found the review funny or insightful.
Reading your reviews has a research potential. You can see critical mistakes your company might be making or to learn which positive programs are worth keeping. You can also observe the sub-comments as potential leads so don’t ignore those either.
A final and crucial note is to make your reviewing process easy. Provide an easy link in emails and on your landing page. Give your customers many visual reminders that you have an online review presence. Make profiles for the many sites in your industry. You definitely want to build a reputation on Yelp and your Facebook company page. Each industry and location has a different platform that works best for them.
Here’s a great video for you to watch as another resource: