Customer opinions can hugely impact your business. Nowadays, sites like Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor, and Angie’s List give customers the power to rate and review businesses, changing how brands market themselves in a digitally connected world. While some business owners may see this as a scary proposition, others are capitalizing on the power of a great review and a loyal consumer base.
Here’s how you can take control of this opportunity and use it to your advantage in an ethical way.
Before Asking for Reviews
Before you, as a business owner, starts asking customers for reviews, set yourself up for success. Most review sites allow you to create a business profile. While it may be tempting to set up a single profile and direct all of your customers there, many new clients will want to visit a multitude of review sites in order to make their purchasing decisions. Yelp, Google, FourSquare, and sites specific to your business’ field (such as UrbanSpoon for restaurants or WeddingWire for wedding brands) are the safest starting points. Social media, including a Facebook business page, also now asks customers to provide a review.
When creating your review page, include as much information as possible: photographs, contact information, business hours, etc. An empty profile will not look as inviting for reviewers as one that clearly shows who you are and how you operate.
When Asking for Reviews
Once your profiles are set up, it’s time to implement a strategy on how to get reviews from your loyal clients. The best time to ask for a review is right after their purchase—whether in person, via email, or with a link directing them to your review pages.
Many people only take time to compose a review when their experience is negative, it is important to spot the positive interactions or satisfied clients. Happy consumers are often willing to leave positive feedback, but usually need a little push. Do not be shy, as it never hurts to ask directly!
In addition, a follow-up reminder like an automated email, or a more personal thank you card, can be a great way to get consumers to continue thinking about your business. Adding a simple “Please consider reviewing us!” goes a long way.
Avoid Gaming the Review System
Review sites, while popular, are not without controversy. There has been much debate in regards to offering incentives to those who review. This could range from providing an additional coupon or discount, to providing free services and products. While some business owners see this as an entirely fair practice, others disagree and claim it is bribery. For businesses who do practice this, be prepared for fake reviews by non-customers or even a backlash of negative reviews in retaliation.
Websites like Google and Yelp have tried to take these comments out of the system by marking the comments they suspect as being fake or prompted as spam reviews. Too many of such could get the business banned, or even ruin a reputation. While it is ultimately up to you on how your business goes about asking for reviews, weigh in on the pros and cons before incentivizing.
Get Started Today
Armed with an open mind regarding customer opinions, your business is ready to request online reviews. Begin today by first scouting review sites for the ones that best match your business and customer needs. Secondly, create an actionable review requesting plan that includes everyone, from salespeople to cashiers. Finally, get out there and ask!
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