A good review can give a potential customer who is somewhat familiar with your company the last push to make a purchase, or persuade them to choose your company if they are unsure.
The numbers confirm the importance of online reviews. According to research conducted by Northwestern University’s Medill Spiegel Research Center, “a product with five ratings is 270%” more likely to be purchased than one with zero.
Moreover, online reviews also play a role in strengthening SEO for organizations. According to the SEO tool Moz, to determine the SEO ranking, Google looks at the reviews from three main sources: reviews on Google Business profiles, reviews on third-party sites “like Yelp” and finally, reviews collected directly on a business. website (such as testimonials).
So, how can you get more online reviews? First off, I’ll say the obvious: I don’t think there is a business owner on the planet who wants a negative review. The core of positive online reviews is excellent customer service. Even with excellent customer service, there’s no guarantee that people will leave rave reviews, but implementing a few strategies can help increase that chance.
1. Put a process in place
You must have a process in place to get a steady stream of online reviews. Don’t sit back and wait for reviews to appear about your business.
Set a goal for how many online reviews you want to generate for your business in a given time frame. Then create a process for requesting online reviews. That process might involve emailing customers to leave you a review after project milestones or reaching out and asking existing customers who haven’t left you a review yet. However, whichever approach you choose, keep in mind the guidelines of various review platforms. A good rule of thumb is not to ask for positive reviews; just ask for reviews in general. And don’t offer freebies in exchange for reviews.
You also need to determine who on your team will respond to your online reviews and when. More on that later.
2. Don’t wait until the end of a business relationship to ask
Don’t wait until the end of a relationship with a customer to request a review. Instead, ask customers to leave reviews for you during key project stages.
For example, if a customer has a great onboarding experience or is happy with a result you generated for them, just ask! The customer is in a good mood and, most importantly, is currently working on your business. It’s easier to ask a customer you already interact with to leave a review than a customer whose project with you ended a while ago. Now this advice does not always apply. For example, if your business sells sweaters or candy, those customer relationships end after the purchase (not counting loyal customers). But there are also ways to navigate those situations. For example, one strategy is to quickly put a note on the receipt and ask customers to leave a review.
3. Introduce micro-connections
I learned the concept of micro-connections from attorney Sam Mollaei, whom I once mentioned on my podcast. He has collected over 3,000 reviews for his legal services.
One of his most effective strategies for getting those reviews was to ask the consumer if they would like to give him a review first and if they say yes, he sends them the link where they can leave their review. When customers say yes, they make a micro-commitment and are more likely to deliver on that promise.
4. Stimulate your team
Stimulation is something to be careful with. It is against Google’s guidelines to encourage customers to leave reviews.
However, you can encourage your team to ask customers to leave reviews. For example, you can take on a company-wide challenge where you divide your employees into groups, and the group that asks the most customers to leave a review wins a bonus at the end of the month or quarter.
5. Make use of technology
Several customer review software tools in the market can give you an edge regarding your company’s online reviews. For example, some of these tools automatically message customers to leave a review, saving you time. These tools can also help you monitor incoming reviews so that someone on your team can respond.
And as obvious as it may sound, sometimes people overlook this: take a mobile-first approach to your reviews. Many people walk around with a smartphone in hand, and if you make it easy for them to leave a review for your business with just a few taps (such as by texting them a link to your review page), the chances of conversion greater .
6. Reply to all reviews
It may sound counterintuitive, but you and your team should respond to all of your online reviews, good or bad.
This shows that you know what your customers think about your company and that you pay attention to them under all circumstances. Whether it’s a good or a bad review, you and your team need to respond empathically. If someone compliments your company, show grace and gratitude. If someone criticizes your company, show responsibility and accountability. Treat your customers the way you want to be treated yourself.
Aside from general courtesy, there is another reason why you should pay attention to how you respond to your customers. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Consumer Review Fairness Act makes it illegal “for businesses to include standardized provisions that threaten or punish people for posting fair reviews.”
7. Hold retrospectives
This brings me to my next point: run retrospectives to improve your customers’ experiences.
If a customer leaves you a negative review, don’t just respond to the review and stop. Instead, take real action to make it right for that customer and put in place processes to minimize the chance that future customers will have bad experiences. And when a customer leaves you a positive review, pay attention to what went well and do more of it.