November 12, 2018
Talking Points

Tips for getting more positive online reviews

Andrea Obston

Want to get more positive reviews? Ask. No, really. It's that simple. But most businesses simply don't do it.

How many customers do you make happy every day? A lot, I'll bet. But here's the sad truth about that: Most people do not run to their screens to tell the world how great it was to get what they wanted when they wanted it.

How about asking them to do just that? Heck, my dentist and my car repair shop do that. Why don't you?

The funny thing is that people are often more than happy to leave a review.

Who’s going to do the ask?

Requesting reviews has to be something that everyone in the organization sees as their responsibility. You want to ask for these reviews as soon as the product or service is delivered and any one of your employees could be the person who knows when that happens.

Here's how to get everyone to jump on the request-a-review bandwagon:

• Communicate the importance of getting these positive reviews by explaining the direct impact they have on the business.

• Train key employees on how to ask for reviews.

• Develop a scorecard that tracks reviews by locations.

• Provide bonuses and awards for the locations and employees who have the best track record of asking for reviews and who get the best online reviews.

How to ask for a review

There are a number of ways to ask for feedback.

• Direct request — In this approach you thank the customers for their business, ask them for feedback and send them to a private customer feedback landing page on your site. Should that feedback be positive on your site, you can then respond with: "We're pleased our services met your expectations. Our reputation is very important to us. Please take a moment to review us on Yelp by clicking here and for Google by clicking here."

• Ratings-only request — In this approach you ask the customer to rate their experience on a 1 to 10 scale in response to this question: "How did we do?" For those who rate your company with an 8, 9 or 10, you then send the feedback request mentioned above.

• Feedback request — This brings both approaches together, allowing for both positive and negative feedback. The content could read: "If you were pleased with our services, please tell the world. Click here to leave an online review. If we did not meet your expectations, please tell us. Click here [your site's private customer feedback landing page] to tell us about your experience so we can make it right."

When asking for a review, here's what you need to keep in mind:

• Get permission before sending a review request.

• Ask at the peak of your customer's happiness with your product or service.

• Use casual language.

• Make it clear you are interested in feedback; not just a rating.

• Approach the customer in a way that asks for a favor.

• Let the customer know how long doing the review will take.

• Tell the customer how much it means to your company that they write a review.

• Tell them that you're looking forward to reading their review.

• Avoid offering incentives for leaving online reviews. Both Yelp and Google have taken aggressive stances against such practices. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission has rules against such practices and can file a complaint against your company for violating them.

The bottom line is this: Customers check online reviews before they buy. According to a piece in Forbes, "74% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more." In that same piece they said that "Every one star increase in a Yelp rating means a 5 to 9% increase in revenue."

Andrea Obston is president of Bloomfield-based Andrea Obston Marketing Communications.

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