How To Encourage Customers To Write Online Reviews
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of positive online reviews to your home service business. They are the single best form of marketing because they enlist the power of the internet to close sales for you.
Online business reviews and testimonials fall into the category of “social proof,” something humans look for instinctively. It's why we enjoy "Likes" on our Facebook posts and follow Instagram profiles with a million other followers. People want to do the thing (or buy the thing) that everyone else is raving about. We take that as an indication of its quality, that we’re making a good buy.
Consider the following stats from a BrightLocal study:
91% of 18-34-year-old customers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations
89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to online reviews
Only 40% of consumers consider reviews written in the past 2 weeks
80% of 18-34-year-olds have written an online review, while only 41% of consumers 55 and over have
66% of consumers have been asked by businesses to leave a review
Consumers will read an average of 10 online reviews before they can trust a business
Check out this study from the University of Denver for more details on how reviews drive business.
The problem is, once a sale is closed, most customers consider their role over. Your company is probably an afterthought, even if they like the service. How do you keep them sufficiently engaged to leave a glowing testimonial and a 5-star rating?
The good news is that your customers are on your side. The same BrightLocal study found that of the 74% of customers who were asked to leave reviews, 68% of them were willing to do it.
Read below to learn how to get customers to write online reviews, in seven steps, or use the jump links to skip to a section that may answer your question.
1. Give Your Customers a 5-Star Service
This is Running a Business 101. Five-star reviews must be earned, not just asked for. Lay the groundwork for your online reputation by selling quality products or providing your customers with the best possible service. If you're wondering how to encourage customers to write reviews, start by giving them something amazing to write about.
If you’re a home service professional, using Housecall Pro will turn any customer into a lifelong client. The key to premier customer service is being communicative and open with your customers. With the Housecall Pro app, you can use intuitive features such as online booking, on-my-way texts, personalized text and email, follow-up marketing, and so much more to keep your customers in the loop.
2. Create the Right Spaces for Customers to Leave Reviews
It may be tempting to funnel all customers to one review platform, but that's not how to get online reviews. Different platforms have huge viewerships. If you're trying to direct customers to leave reviews on a site they don't like or understand, they may just not bother.
You owe it to yourself to be on all the relevant platforms, growing your reputation in all of them gradually and simultaneously.
Key sites include:
Yelp.com averages 178 million visitors per day, many of them are repeat and avid users. Your business may already be entered into Yelp.com, possibly with reviews already. If so, you should "claim" your business so you can update it, add content and respond to reviews. Monitor your business' Yelp activity closely. Users can see your response rate and response time. Make sure you understand how Yelp filters reviews so you and your customers don't waste effort on reviews that will never be seen.
The social media giant has 2.7 billion users scrolling through their feeds daily. Create or claim your Facebook business page and engage with your followers by liking or responding to comments and reviews. Like Yelp, Facebook rewards your engagement with visibility.
Leverage the world's most popular search engine with the "Google My Business" feature. To register your business (or "claim" it if someone else has already registered it) you'll need to confirm your address by having a postcard mailed to you. Once this is done, you will have a Google Maps profile (essential for SEO) that prominently displays the reviews people leave.
If you sell products on Amazon.com, eBay.com, or host a store on an eComm platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, you already have the perfect platform for testimonials built into your store.
Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a venerable source of business data in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Your profile on BBB.org is a great place to funnel customers for testimonials.
Review sites for home service businesses include websites such as AngiesList.com.
Travel and hospitality companies may want to solicit reviews on sites like TripAdvisor.com or Oyster.com.
Popular sites to review software companies include G2Crowd.com and FinancesOnline.com.
The restaurant industry uses sites like OpenTable.com and HappyChow.com.
3. Time Your Request Right
It's not just about how to encourage customers to give feedback ... when you ask makes just as big of a difference. When you ask for the review will vary based on the type of business. Ask customers for positive reviews when the customer:
demonstrates or experiences success with the product or satisfaction with the service.
re-orders or purchases again.
tags your brand or comments on your social media.
spends time browsing your website.
refers another customer to you.
If none of these apply, ask 3-5 days after the sale.
Even if a customer agrees to leave a review, life happens. The customer might forget. Don't be discouraged. Follow up 5-7 days later and see if you can get the customer to leave that review right then and there.
4. Ask Open-Ended Questions First
Don't just barrel right into the request for a review. Remember, five-star customer service comes first. Starting with an open-ended question is a great way to grow customer trust. For example:
"Were you satisfied with our service?"
"Can I answer any questions about the product?"
"Were you considering purchasing again?"
"Any suggestions on how we can do better?"
This can be a source of helpful customer feedback in its own right. It also protects you from the faux-pas of asking an unsatisfied customer for a review.
5. Ask For The Review!
This is the critical step—you get nothing you don't ask for!
Consider the following methods when asking customers for a review:
Provide a follow-up call to check their satisfaction or offer value-giving tips about their purchase.
Send a follow-up email or text message. Preferably the message would be personalized. Use automation if your volume is too high.
Use the direct-message function on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter if the customer tagged you or liked your content on one of those platforms.
Meet in person at a follow-up lunch or coffee meeting.
Ask at an event or open house you host.
Consider asking passively by giving the customer a review first! This is common in apps like Uber or Airbnb. Absent that, you might leave the customer a positive reference on LinkedIn.com. Only try this if you have built a relationship with the customer, though. If you're still basically strangers, it comes off as creepy.
6. Make it Easy for the Customer
You are asking for a favor from your customer. Don't make them work too hard. Streamline the process with one or more of the following tactics:
Include links to your review sites in your follow-up emails and text messages.
Provide links on your website to your review sites with identifiable "badge" icons (the Facebook "F" icon, the Google "G," etc.).
If you want more Facebook reviews, request them via Facebook Messenger from your business page.
Make it fun! Try the "Happy Face" landing page. Customers are directed to a page where they can rate their service by clicking on a "Happy Face" or a "Sad Face." Make sure to include direct links to your review sites as well.
7. Incentivize ... the Right Way
Some businesses offer an incentive to customers who leave a review. This might take the form of:
offering coupons and offers.
entry in a contest.
a gift card or cash rebate.
in one popular case, a pledge to plant a tree in a foreign reforestation area!
Tread carefully. "Paying" for positive reviews is often against a platform's terms of service. You could be kicked off the platform or even fined. A good rule of thumb is to incentivize reviews, not positive reviews. Even if the customer leaves a bad review, follow through on the incentive. That may seem scary, but it's the more ethical choice, can increase customer satisfaction, and may protect the good reviews you already have.
What if I Get Bad Reviews?
Don't worry about whether or not you get a bad review ... because you will. You can't please everyone. Every business gets bad a testimonial sometimes. How much damage they do depends on how you respond.
If you get a bad review, here’s how you can respond to negative reviews:
ALWAYS answer it publically, responding directly to the post, on the platform. Your silence leaves a vacuum, which copycats might fill with even more negative feedback.
Answer promptly. This shows you to be an engaged business owner who values customer satisfaction.
Do not be defensive or angry. 67% of customer complaints are focused on unpleasant representatives. Be courteous, respectful, and objective.
Empathize, apologize, and propose a resolution to make it right.
Key Takeaways on How to Encourage Customers to Write Reviews
Knowing how to get customers to write online reviews or give feedback can be tricky. Learning the ins and outs of maintaining a positive online reputation starts with online reviews, as hundreds of positive reviews can boost your brand, while one negative review can shatter an entire company. So, delivering top-notch customer service, offering quality products, and maintaining a strong online presence can help grow your business. When encouraging customers to give feedback, make sure it’s timely, easy, and on various platforms such as Yelp or Facebook. Using these seven tips will get you 5-star reviews in no time!
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