Having many positive reviews from customers is increasingly being recognized as a highly valuable tool to promote a business. In addition to building trust and being powerful word-of-mouth advertising, online reviews can also help your search engine visibility and rankings.
Simply having a profile on Google Plus, Yelp, Yahoo, City Search, influential industry review sites, other review sites or a place to capture them on your own website is great but creating a “review funnel”, a system to collect reviews about your business is the missing, all-important piece of the equation to maximize their value.
So how do you do it? Here’s a five step plan.
Laying the Groundwork
Providing outstanding service is fundamental to getting great reviews. Be helpful, be courteous, and be wary of your customer pain points that may make them disaffected with your business.
For example, if your business is appointment based such as a service business or professional service such as doctor or dentist, do all you can do minimize being unable to start the appointment on time. If you are a hotel, restaurant, or store, put up stickers and signs encouraging customers to leave reviews of your business.
In addition to helping maximizing the opportunity for positive reviews, laying the groundwork and providing excellent service also helps minimize the risk of the dreaded negative reviews. Negative reviews can look particularly unfavorable to prospective customers and drag down your overall star rating score. By gaining more positive reviews, you can push down the effect of any negative reviews received.
Implementing a Process
After providing service to a customer that exceeds expectations is the best time to gather a review. Their experience with your business will be fresh in the customers mind and they will be more likely to descriptively share it. This creates a framework for successfully getting reviews.
You want to make it easy for customers to spread the good word about your business. Have different means to request reviews and follow up on them and be sure to thank and reward customers who leave reviews.
Outreach and Collection
Typically the most effective way to garner more reviews is to ask the customer for it in person and provide them an email link or customized Google review sheet with clear instructions on how to leave a review. Having an easy to follow review form is effective and can also be a helpfu guide for customers to leave more reviews. The form can also be distributed in-person as a handout or as a mailer.
Provide a concise, polite request with a link to the review site and be sure to thank the customer. Also have reviews links on your website including a dedicated review portal page and social media so there are additional opportunities for customers to leave reviews in addition to the direct request.
You also request reviews by phone and then send them an email with the link to the review website. This helps prime the pump for a higher capture rate. For consistency and best results, require this practice among all employees who manage customer accounts.
Below is an example email request:
We appreciate the opportunity to serve you. We would be most grateful if you could take a moment and review our service on our Google business page – https://plus.google.com/+Ascentinternet/about. Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.
After sending out a customer review request, schedule a follow-up time within a week. The customer may have missed the email or it fell by the wayside. Follow-up calls and emails can help increase your success rate and the quality of reviews gathered. In addition to the above techniquest, promoting and linking to your review URLs on your social media and email marketing can also be helpful.
Promote Your Reviews
When particularly glowing reviews are received, make the most of them. With the customer permission, put them in the testimonials section of your website along with a picture. Positive reviews can also be useful for social media, email marketing, and in advertising.
If a customer is particularly pleased with your business’ service, you may want to consider asking them for a video testimonial. You may also want to consider gathering a case study from the customer, which is a longer form of testimonial and can be great content. As they say, “facts tell, but stories sell”.
Thrilled customers are fantastic for brand building and are critical for social media engagement, repeat sales, and customer referrals. Creating a customer review funnel and implementing the above processes is smart business. It can help you garner more glowing reviews for your business and is a low cost, effective form of marketing.