When you need a service or are looking to make a big purchase, what is the first step you take? You go online and look for information, maybe read a few online reviews. Guess what? Your customers do the same thing!
Many local search engines and local directories use consumer opinions as a factor for how prominently they show a business in their results. Both the volume of reviews and the sentiment of those reviews have an effect on how visible a business is. Businesses that can successfully encourage their customers to leave positive reviews will benefit from reaching a wider audience.
Online reviews are a great way to cultivate brand advocates who will help drive more customers to your business. A brand advocate is a ‘fan’ of a brand & takes a sense of ownership in seeing it succeed by evangelizing it to others.
According to research done by Comscore, 61% of online users consider buying a brand, product or service recommended by an advocate. Any of your customers can become an advocate for your business; all you need to do is ask. Here are five easy ways you can increase your online reviews and the number of advocates for your business.
- If you have your customer’s email addresses, contact them and ask them to provide a review via email. Another option is to provide a link to a website where they can leave a review. Follow up on your initial request three days later with a reminder email. Reminder emails can account for a huge percentage of review conversions.
- If most of your business is done in person, then give them a comment card. If it’s over the phone, you may have to do it through snail mail. Try stapling a comment card with a return postage to your invoice.
- Set up an on-site “review station.” Provide a computer or laptop in your business location where your customers can post a review before they leave. Provide them with instructions on how to leave a review so they can post easily.
- Ask for a review on the back of your business card or on your invoice. This may be especially helpful if you are shy about asking for online reviews directly.
- Even though you may not have direct control over what users write about your business, you can still influence the conversation and turn a negative comment into a great marketing opportunity. Speak with that customer immediately and ask them what can be done to satisfy, compensate, or make it better. Find out what he feels should have been done differently, and thank him for helping you cure a problem by bringing it to your attention. If you take a willing-to-fix-it attitude to your company reviews in response to comments, you’ll show a trustworthy aspect of your company to your viewers.
Remember to ask for reviews after your business with your customers is complete. People are most likely to give you feedback right away.
According to Ted Paff, CEO of CustomerLobby, a review service, “Comment card reviews solicited at the time of service can see completion rates of 80-90%” vs. much lower rates for other forms of review solicitation.
You may feel embarrassed when asking customers for reviews. If that sounds like you, just be totally candid with your customers. Tell them that you are working on improving your business and you heard that asking for reviews was a good way to do this.
Another good practice is to check different review sites periodically to monitor what people are saying about your business. When you identify your brand advocates, make sure to thank them for their time and recommendations. Soon you will see the impact online reviews can have on your business’s reputation.