One of the biggest problems small businesses face is getting customers to write reviews. Time and time again we hear our clients say that they have asked for reviews from satisfied customers, but then it ends there.
In order to ensure your business is actively getting new reviews, you need to have a process in place for encouraging reviews, and you need to take the time to follow up with your customers.
Don’t Be Subtle!
There’s a number of techniques to ask for reviews, but many of these methods aren’t very effective. Don’t expect your customer to get the hint if you are subtly asking for a review. Some methods that aren’t very effective include:
- Adding reviews links to your email signature.
- Including a note about leaving reviews with an invoice.
- Sending out a newsletter blast to ask for reviews.
The best way to actually get a review is to ask a person when you are face-to-face or on the phone. All of your employees who work directly with customers should know how to respond when a customer gives them positive feedback. When your business gets a new positive review, it benefits everyone who works for the business.
Develop a Process
The best way to ask for reviews depends on your specific business. When we are helping clients to implement a new reviews program, we generally start with a 4-step process that can apply to most businesses that deal directly with customers.
- A customer says something nice about your product or services in person or over the phone. This triggers you to ask them if they are willing to write a review. If they say “yes,” continue to step 2.
- You immediately send the customer to a designated page on your website that has links to third-party review sites, like this one boomvisibility.com/testimonials, or send them links that go directly to your directory site profiles. Set yourself a calendar reminder to check back in one week.
- If after a week, you don’t see any sign of a review, send the customer a follow-up email asking them if they had a chance to write a review. Set yourself another reminder for a week later.
- If you still have not heard a response or seen a review, then give the customer a call to follow up one last time. Some people struggle with the process of leaving a review, so it’s possible they just need you to walk them through it.
In some cases, it may be beneficial to mention an incentive for leaving a review, like a discount for a future product or service from your business or a $10 gift card to Wawa. While this is technically against the rules of many review sites, there isn’t much danger in incentivizing because it is hard to enforce.
It’s important to note that on some directory sites you don’t want to send customers a direct link to your profile. This is common on Yelp, and if Yelp recognizes that a lot of your reviews are coming from people who go directly to your Yelp profile URL, they may filter your reviews.
Persistence Pays Off
If you don’t believe following up with customers will pay off, then take it from one of our clients.
Ramsey’s Moving Systems is having great success with a new tactic. When a customer tells the owner they are going to leave his company a nice review on a third-party site, he follows up with them a week later if they still have not left a review. In some cases, the customer is just unsure of how to leave a review, so he’ll explain how to leave a review in more detail. While holding your customer accountable for leaving you a review may seem aggressive, it’s often a good way to also just check in and make sure they had a positive experience and build your customer relationships.
So how well has this tactic worked for Ramsey’s? Before the owner started this, his company had no reviews on Google. After 3 months of this tactic, Ramsey’s Moving has 20 Google reviews. Within a 2-week period, he also was able to get 3 new positive reviews on Yelp.
Now Go Get Some Reviews!
If your current strategy isn’t working, then try something new. Start small by following up with one or two customers and then build from there. And remember that when you (or someone in your company) is face-to-face with a customer, it’s often the best time to ask for a review. It can also be beneficial to ask for a review right after you’ve really gone out of your way for a customer.
In many cases, you may ask 20 people for a review, and only end up with review on Google, Yelp, or Angie’s List. The process can be slow, but it does pay off.