You might be asking yourself the question: “Why do I even need reviews?” A huge portion of business owners believe that because their business comes in via referrals or convenience of location, online reviews have minimal to no effect on their business as a whole. People will drive farther to visit someplace better.
The truth is that, in a world where the use of the internet and technology is ever-increasing, reviews can make or break a business’s reputation and income. While it is important to try to get more good reviews than bad reviews, that’s a subject for another blog post. The end game is to increase the number of reviews in general.
The first thing to remember is to never directly ask a customer to leave a review, especially in a way that seems like a bribe. This may seem on the surface to be a good idea because hey, we all need more reviews, and why not ask the customer to write a good review? The problem is that most review databases—the most prominent being Yelp—have a filter system for reviews. Reviews that seem biased towards the company will be filtered out of the group of recommended reviews, because they seem fake. Aside from the fact that these good reviews will be filtered out, most review sites have a strict policy against reviews that look like the product of bribery. Basically, asking for reviews not only turns off potential customers to your company, but you’ll end up right back at square one with little to no reviews. If you’re really desperate for reviews, you can consider posting a sign on your front desk or website with the words “Check us out on Yelp!” This seems to the customer to be less pushy, and will remind them that leaving a review is a great and easy thing to do. Of course, there are many sites other than Yelp that people go to for reviews, and you shouldn’t neglect your own website. At the end of an appointment or transaction with a client or customer, it’s not a bad idea to give them a short step-by-step guide describing how to leave a testimonial on your own website, Yelp, Google+, etc. A good way to get reviews without specifically asking for them is to send a follow-up email after the customer’s appointment or purchase. Keep in mind that this depends on your business—if you handle clients in a one-on-one, personal way, such as a dentist’s or massage office, it would be appropriate to send an email thanking them for choosing you, and perhaps reminding them of anything they may need to do after their appointment. After this expression of thanks, you can remind them to check you out, either on your website, your social media accounts, or on a review site. If the business you do is more of a one-time purchase, there isn’t much you can do, other than always providing excellent customer service. There are many people who are frequent users of review sites, and you never know when you’ll come in contact with a customer who is used to posting reviews. Good customer service is always key to getting good reviews.
Looking deeper into social media outlets, you should know that your business needs to possess and be highly involved in several social media accounts. Consider which of these outlets has the most involvement from your customers and the general public. Becoming involved and active on your various accounts will help reviews come naturally, but you can try for an extra push. A good way of utilizing social media and getting reviews simultaneously would be, for example, adding a note at the end of a blog post that says something along the lines of: “Like this post? Check us out on Yelp!” Remember that every business starts somewhere, and don’t get frustrated if your business lacks reviews at first. Directly asking for reviews will almost always backfire, so don’t get too desperate. Engaging in good customer service and social media, as well as getting your name out to the masses, will help reviews roll in by themselves!