Reviews are a key marketing tool. When customers don’t know much about a business, they’ll turn to reviews for some social proof. People want to know that the business is credible and other customers had a good experience as well. It gives them confidence in their purchasing decision.
Social proof comes in many forms from paid endorsements, referrals from friends to testimonials and reviews. Recommendations from friends and family are trusted the most, but online reviews are a close second. Many people trust online reviews almost as much as a recommendation from a family member. According to BrightLocal, 85% of consumers trust online reviews are much as personal recommendations
Customers are doing their research. 63.6 percent of consumers say they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business — more than any other review site.
As the social media expert, Brian Solis puts it, “Welcome to a new era of marketing and service in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.”
Don’t get intimidated by the task of asking for reviews. Since customers are relying more and more on reviews, they understand their importance. BrightLocal’s survey found that of the 74% of people who were asked for a review, 68% were willing to write one. All you have to do is ask. Most people will be happy to help you out.
Leave a Note
You can request a review by simply leaving a note on the counter and asking for a review. This can be done with a pen and paper and transferred to a digital review later. It could be facilitated through a tablet left on the counter specifically for the purpose of gathering customer reviews.
Make sure that you leave the request for reviews in a noticeable place that many customers will see as they visit your store. Don’t tuck it away in the corner of the room. Have it prominently displayed on a table next to the checkout. Then customers can quickly write a review right after making a purchase.
After your customers have made a purchase is a great time to request a review. They are likely feeling great about the purchase and have positive feelings about your business. Requesting a review while their purchase is still on the top of their mind is an ideal time to gather a review.
You can send them a poll and ask them to rate their service. Ask specific questions regarding how your business can improve and what they enjoyed about doing business with you.
Don’t wait too long to ask for a review. Customers like to give feedback right away.
Create Multiple Review Options
Set up profiles on a number of review sites. Target the ones that are most relevant to your business. LinkedIn, TripAdvisor, CitySearch, Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Local, and Yahoo Local are just some of the top review sites.
Review sites like TrustLink and Trustpilot are great even for businesses that aren’t review-driven. In fact, Trustpilot has the additional benefit of showing up on Google.
Some customers do check multiple sites when looking for reviews to get an idea of how many positive reviews and negative reviews are online. Therefore, you’ll want to try to get positive reviews on all of the major review sites.
Remind Them Through Social Media
Customers know how important reviews are to businesses. They won’t be turned off by a post requesting reviews of their products online. You can send out a tweet reminding your customers to write a review or post on your Facebook page that you would appreciate reviews.
You can make it a fun post with a quote like this one from Bill Gates. Then simply include a link to a review form for your customers to quickly and easily fill out.
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” —Bill Gates, Founder, Microsoft
You could post something like, “Clear feedback is the cornerstone of improvement.” Sir David Brailsford, Team Sky General Manager Help us improve! And then add a link for a review.
Quotes are very effective with social media. They tend to resonate with many people are very shareable. Adding a quote in with your post will improve the chances of online engagement.
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Even the most satisfied customers may need a little bit of encouragement to put pen to paper and write a review. People have busy schedules and don’t always think about what a review will mean to your business. Therefore, it is a great idea to offer a small incentive as a way to show your appreciation.
Make sure that your offer is for writing the review and not dependent on writing a good review. One way to incentivize many reviews is to create a monthly giveaway where you select a reviewer at random. This doesn’t leave a hint of a transaction. No one will accuse you of paying for a review.
You can also reward your customers with loyalty points for writing reviews. Customers can write a review and earn a free coffee or a discount on their next purchase.
Make it a Routine
When you train your customer service and sales employees instill in them the importance of soliciting reviews from the customers. Train them to automatically ask for reviews and let the customers know where they can provide feedback on the company.
Tell customers where you’re collecting reviews after you interact with them. They get the message with frequent reminders. If you start asking every customer for a review, you’ll quickly make it a habit and gather the reviews that you need.
Encourage Customers to Write Reviews – Personal Reviews
The CandyBar loyalty app allows for personal reviews. You can send an SMS message directly to the customer and request a review from them. They can respond right through their phone.
Most customers who respond on their phone will be rather busy. Therefore, you’ll want to make it easy to respond. Create a rating system and limit the number of questions to five. This enables the customers to give feedback without taking up too much of their time. You may also want to allow a free response section if the customer wants to take the time to add more details to their review.
Respond to Reviews
When customers see reviews and there is no one from the company responding to them, they may feel that they are being ignored. It is wise to have a response to both positive and negative online reviews.
“Don’t waste customers’ time asking them questions unless you are prepared to act on what they say.” —Bruce Temkin, Founder, Customer Experience Professionals Association
Responding to the customers demonstrates a concern and caring that isn’t always experienced by big brands. It can help to create a relationship with the customer and improve customer loyalty.
Reviews are a vital part of a business. Customers rely on reviews for social proof when making purchasing decisions. Businesses need reviews to discover areas of improvement and excellence. Reviews can help your business grow or leave it floundering. With each review that you receive, make sure that you take the time to thank the reviewer and truly consider the feedback that they have provided.