It doesn’t take a top-level CEO to know that reviews can make or break a business. One thing that many business owners overlook is that it’s not just bad reviews that can be damaging to your reputation management efforts. A lack of reviews can also be damaging. Think about it — when you’re comparing a variety of businesses, the one with the most positive reviews is often the one that is chosen. A business with no reviews tends to get passed over in favor of one that has been reviewed a few times, even if not all the reviews are perfect.
Getting customers to review an experience, transaction, or meal for your business is a challenge that all entrepreneurs face. These ten tips can help to engage customers both inside and outside your business and encourage an increase in reviews.
1. Make Your Business Visible Via Review Sites
While consumers often turn to review sites like Yelp and their competitors to find out what customers of a business have said about its service, they also go to find out information provided by the business itself. Popular businesses that thrive on review sites tend to be the ones who offer current information, photos and contact information. The website, hours, a phone number and an email address should all be provided on a review website, as should photos of the interior and exterior of your business. This can be the difference between “Where in the world is that?” and “Hey, I know that place!”
2. Simply Ask For Reviews
One oft overlooked way of getting patrons to review your business is to ask. Of course, choosing the right ways and times to do so are how to assure that your business receives a positive review rather than a negative. Look for the customers who are excited about your business. They might be full of compliments and enjoy telling you what a great job you’ve done. These are the perfect candidates to ask for a review. A simple statement such as “I’m so glad you like my business! Would you consider giving us a review online to let other people know it would be worth stopping by?” can resonate with a happy customer and lead to glowing reviews.
3. Getting Reviews On Google
Most people are familiar with the reviews that pop up when a computer user searches for a business via Google. One of the best ways to land reviews from Google users is to improve the SEO of your web presence. If your business has a website, consider researching important SEO techniques or investing in help from a professional SEO expert. Finding key search terms and improving your website’s load time by streamlining the code lead to your site ranking higher in the results of search engines like Google, making customers more likely to see the opportunity to leave a review and do so.
4. Appealing to Power Reviewers
This step is a little challenging. It requires several ounces of decorum, but can reap excellent payoff. Most cities have a handful of power reviewers on websites like Yelp. These are people who have taken on the job of amateur critic, giving honest and trusted reviews that others look to for guidance in the businesses they should patronize. Some review sites allow business owners to privately message reviewers. Being polite, honest and straightforward when talking to a power reviewer will be appreciated. A statement like “I’ve noticed that you’ve reviewed a lot of my favorite places, so you clearly have great taste! I have a new restaurant that seems right up your alley and I’d love for you to come check it out” is pleasant without being overbearing or obnoxious.
5. Help Staff Understand The Importance Of Reviews
It can be difficult to get your staff to feel as driven about bringing in reviews as you are, and that makes some amount of sense. You have more to lose than they do if your business fails. To get staff interested in obtaining reviews and keep them interested, a rewards system wherein any staff member whose name is mentioned positively in a review receives a small bonus, extra break or some other workable long term reward can go a long way in keeping staff focused on generating positive reviews from customers.
6. Never Underestimate Your Signage
Your signage is designed to reflect both your brand’s unique style and important information about your business. When updating your signage, something as simple as the inclusion of the phrase ‘Like us? Review us on Yelp, Facebook and more!’ can remind customers that they have the option to voice their opinion about your service. Of course, it’s crucial to back up that signage with customer service and quality that will result in positive reviews.
7. Turning Emails Into Reviews Successfully
Asking for reviews via email is something that should be done delicately. Brash, demanding emails with harsh language that tell customers to ‘review now!’ are trashed, or worse, marked as spam. To get customers’ attention, frame the entire concept as an opportunity for loyal customers to voice their opinions and help your business to grow. Customers who sign up for email promotions are generally those who are interested in engaging with a business, making that particular group a great audience. This is not a good place to offer discounts or rewards, as it may encourage people to leave random, unhelpful reviews to attempt to score something free.
8. Make Reviewing Easy
Hemming and hawing when someone asks you where or how they can leave a review gives a pretty clear impression that you don’t care what they have to say. Encouraging patrons to review by providing direct links or information about review sites on which your business is featured can allow people who might not be too tech savvy to figure out where they can go to speak their mind about your business. Social media is a great way to share these links, which leads into our next tip.
9. Have a Social Media Presence
It could be argued that there is no better way to allow people to voice their opinions than offering a social media presence. Instagram, Twitter and other micro-blogging and photo-blogging sites are fun ways to draw people in, but Facebook needs to be a key component in the social media strategy. A huge percentage of the population are members of the massive site, which has its own review system in place for businesses. People can and will find your business on Facebook with simple searches, and from there, can leave reviews or be directed to external review sites.
10. So I Have A Review – Now What Do I Do?
Congratulations! A review is an important step. All business owners hope for good reviews, but even bad ones can be fielded with grace and class. A good review doesn’t need profuse thanks or begging for the customer to return. A thankful but casual attitude sets a professional tone. “We appreciate you letting us know you had a great time! Hope to see you again soon!” is friendly, cheerful and positive.
On the flip side, a bad review should be addressed immediately both publicly and privately. “I’m sorry to hear that your experience wasn’t satisfactory, and I want to do something to remedy that right away. I’m sending you a private message so we can discuss this further” gives immediate satisfaction to the annoyed customer, who knows you will be contacting them soon. It also gives the impression to other customers that you care about any issues a customer might have and that you go out of your way to quickly and privately address them.
Earning reviews is one of the struggles faced by both new and existing businesses. Providing exceptional customer service, avoiding over-solicitation, always being polite and making review options highly visible are some of the best ways to encourage happy customers to tell you about their great experiences.