Online reviews have become a hot online commodity in today’s modern world. Customers research your business. They see those reviews. And statistics have shown that online reviews play a significant role in a customer’s purchasing decision. Every business wants positive online reviews. How do you get online reviews?
Before you start blindly reaching out for reviews, be aware that asking for online reviews comes with a risk—and additional work. Negative reviews come with positive reviews. All online reviews come with their own process: asking for reviews, monitoring reviews, and responding to reviews. All of these steps can be integrated into already existing operational procedures and should be included in the training of every employee who interacts with customers.
Asking for reviews
Because every business is different, it’s up to every business owner and manager to choose and implement the tactics that work for their company. As you determine what tactic is right for your business, know that there is value in pre-screening customers before you make the ask. Put simply, a positive review is more likely to come from a customer who has positive feelings about the work your company has done for them. Obviously, pre-screening does not mean your company is exempt from negative reviews. Negative reviews can come at any time (and from anyone)—no matter how and who you ask. Here are some ways to ask customers for online reviews:
- Put a sign by the register asking for reviews (with or without an incentive)
- Ask “Can you help us by reviewing us on _______________?”
- Ask “Were you happy with your service/product? We get a bonus for positive online reviews and would be grateful if you left a review on ______________.”
- Send out an e-mail to customers (with their permission-here are solid ways to build an e-mail list)
- Pass out flyers with instructions for review
- Include instructions for online reviews with packages that are sent out
- Have salesmen ask satisfied customers on phone to leave reviews, follow up with e-mail
- Include request for review on e-mailed receipts
- Offer a discount for next purchase with a review of the product
- Ask for review when corresponding with customer in social media messages
Monitoring for reviews
Awareness of reviews is a significant part of the review process; it can also be a challenge with so many online review sites. Once you’ve put your business out there with solid profiles on all the review sites, make the monitoring process efficient by contacting a company with an automated process that makes you aware of reviews posted about your business.
Responding to reviews
There is a general rule: respond to every review, both negative and positive. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though these are far and few in between. If the review is negative, always remember not to take the review personally. Remind yourself of this as you use these tips to respond to negative reviews:
- Identify the customer’s problem. Read through the customer’s complaint completely, and identify the source of their complaint. Don’t be afraid to ask them to private message you with more information about their problem.
- Respond promptly. Customers expect businesses to respond with online customer service within an hour. Don’t delay and add fuel to an angry customer’s negativity.
- Don’t ask a customer to call you or take other steps to contact you. Communicate with them on their chosen medium and don’t make it difficult for them.
- Show sympathy. Saying your sorry they have a problem does not show weakness.
- Apologize if you were in the wrong. Try to sandwich the negativity with “Thank you so much for your feedback. We apologize for the delay by our technician. We will use your feedback to make sure that this error does not happen again.”
- Showcase your customer service skills. Be incredibly polite. This is your chance to show them that you care enough to resolve the issue.
- Read through your response before you send it to ensure that your response is appropriate. If needed, ask another manager to review the response.
- Don’t respond to every customer with a canned (copy and pasted) response. You want your customer to feel like you care, not like they are one of a million customers.
If you are using an automated monitoring process, you can often respond and resolve the review before it becomes public. Don’t hesitate to take the time to protect your online reputation via reviews; the effort is well worth the investment, both for you and your customers.