Online reviews are key to grabbing the attention of potential customers.
We are online more today than anytime before. It has changed the game of how people find the right companies to deal with. It used to be that you could ask friends or look through advertisements to decide who you were going to buy from. Back in the day, they used to look to the local Chambers or the BBB to determine integrity of businesses. That has gone and has been replaced with other customers’ reviews.
Today, it is VERY important to get online reviews and you need to make sure they are good ones! Many people say they will give you a review but never get around to it. Others give you a mediocre review or less than expected review. You don’t want to beg for them but they are really important for your business to get more business. How do get GREAT online reviews? How do you get customers to write them? Let me tell you how.
Our customers are finding our businesses differently. They use search engines like Google and others. They search not just who to buy from but they also research what they want to buy and who is going to serve them the best. They make purchasing decisions based on this research. I did a search today for a customer and while their site came up, so did several sites that offered reviews and additional information.
Your online reputation is all about what your customers say about you. You have to be proactive with these reviews to both get great ones and to take care of customers that perhaps had a bad experience.
If you don’t defend yourself online, it will be like my friend who ran for office—his opponent said many untruths about him and he said nothing – saying people would see through the falsehoods. He lost the election and as I asked why, I got time and time again that people thought the statements might be lies but because he didn’t say anything, they assumed they were true after all.
It is also a fact that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. What has made this change in trust? Social media.
Remember when you heard that word-of-mouth advertising is the best type of advertising? It used to be that if you did a great job, people would recommend you three times in two years average. If you wronged them, they would tell 7 people in a week. That was then.
Today, if you wrong a customer, they may put it on a social media site and within hours 3,000 people could have read about it. You need to get great reviews to counter this or you need to stop these reviews. And here is how:
The Great Online Review Plan
1. Start with an outstanding customer service program. Everyone in your business needs to be a part of this. Make sure that every customer leaves (in person, on the phone or over the internet) feeling like they got better service than they could get anywhere else. This is a culture that needs to be developed within the company. One person that isn’t all about taking care of the customer will ruin the experience for the customer.
2. Ask as they leave – Make sure that the last person to talk to them as they leave, asks about their visit. Ask open-ended questions that bring out what their experience was like. A survey can help you determine how great their experience was.
3. Ask for a great review – When their experience is positive, ask them for a great review. Let them know that you will send them an email in the next couple of days to get the review handled. If you get it right then, that’s great too. That is a testimonial and should be used on your website as well. It won’t be able to be used on the review sites unless they enter it there themselves.
4a. The email – Be sure to have a program and procedures in place that gets that email sent out to them within two work days of when they were working with you. Make sure that it asks them for a great review to help others know how well you helped them. The email should have two buttons that allows them to choose “I have a great review” and “They didn’t do so well.” The first button, see 4b. The second button, see 4c
4b. Ask again – Send them to one of the review sites that they use – Google +, Yelp, Facebook or whichever that would be best for your industry. (Restaurants love Urban Spoon and travel-related companies use TripAdvisor.)
4c. If not great, have a plan on how to handle it – Have it so that if they aren’t satisfied they can send a message back to you, rather than to the review sites directly. Now you can help resolve the issue before it goes online.
5. Send them a “Thank You” email when they have reviewed you.
One more thing that has helped my customers is to ask for a referral in an email that you send out about 3 days after the “Thank You” email. If you don’t ask, you may not get referrals and if you do, you’ll get lots.
One customer of mine adopted this plan and now gets 15 to 20 referrals per week. He also got 35 reviews in his first month and averages 25 great new reviews per month. He has automated this process with a program called Signpost (see below).
One last story:
I was visiting with a local business last week and he mentioned that he only has one bad review. It said “They have terrible people working for this company that talk down to you if you have a simple question. Man was very rude and wouldn’t give the time of day to you unless it was going to benefit him. He then proceeded to hang up on me….will never consider doing business with (Company name went here) or recommend them to anybody.”
This was a telemarketer that wouldn’t take no for an answer. The owner kept saying that he wasn’t interested and that he would hang up but the person persisted. The owner finally hung up on the telemarketer. The review showed up a few minutes later. This is becoming more common.
Is it hurting his business? Probably. How can he deal with this? Respond to the review. I suggested something like: “It is my policy to never hang up on anyone, vendor or customer, unless they are a telemarketer that won’t stop pestering me when I have said “NO” or the person becomes abusive. As you were a telemarketer and overly persistent and wouldn’t take no for an answer, I warned you that if you continued, I would hang up. I did just that and I am telling others of what you are doing. You didn’t call to be a customer but a persistent salesperson. I wouldn’t buy and you gave me a negative review. I stand by my policy and the right to hang up on you!”
The bottom line – Online business reviews are not just great but VERY important to your business. They need to be great and you need to have a plan to implement the process of asking for these reviews. If you get a bad review, contact the customer and resolve the issue. Then, when they are satisfied, ask for a new review. Many times resolving an issue well does more for your company than an okay review.
Want to automate getting GREAT reviews? Check out Signpost. Click here
Want more information? Contact me.