How to Get Reviews to Grow Your Business
Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Build a solid collection of reviews and share what your happy customers have to say about you and your business.
Don't just say you're the best at what you do, show it through reviews. Gathering reviews is also a great way to set you apart from your competitors and help wavering customers make up their mind.
“Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company." ~ Tony Hsieh
It's easy for anyone to say "We are the best" or "We are number one" but before you make that type of a claim, make sure you have true testimonials to show for your hard work and dedication. So where do you start? Like anything else in business, you need to have a plan of attack. Write out your steps and make sure the process is solid from start to finish.
Timing is everything
It's easy to think a request for review should be sent out immediately but rarely is that the case. After selling to your customer or working with your client, you want to allow them time to gather their thoughts and appreciate the items they purchased or the services they received. Sending a request for review right away ends up feeling pushy and can turn people off, leaving them with a sour taste for your brand.
Make the process simple and personal
My favorite brands and items I've purchased over the years are from companies who take the time to make my purchase personal. From handwritten notes to personalized packaging, the small details make all the difference. Included in many of these packages was a simple card thank you with clear details on how to leave a review. The easier and more personalized you make the sale and follow up process, the more customers will want to review your brand and share their excitement about what they received.
Social media is a powerful testimonial tool
Social media is an extremely powerful tool for testimonials. Not only do sites like Facebook make it easy to leave reviews for local businesses, but it's also a way for customers and brands to stay connected. Like Google, the more reviews/recommendations you have, the higher your listing is within search. Facebook has become a go-to for searching for local businesses like restaurants, spas, hairstylists, etc. If you are social media savvy, you may want to connect with your customers via messenger. See how they are doing, how they enjoyed their time with your business, and if they wouldn't mind leaving a review. Don't want to invade your customers privacy? Make a scheduled post every week or so, asking for recent customers to leave a review and let them know you are always around if they aren't completely satisfied.
Watch for unsolicited and negative reviews
Opening your business up to receiving reviews means you will need to also be aware of unsolicited or negative reviews. Check your business listings daily and keep tabs by using Google and Facebook business apps on your phone. Replying quickly and swiftly to unsolicited or negative reviews shows future searchers that you take your brand/business seriously and engage with customers as quickly as possible.
Note on negative reviews ~ When a negative review comes in, rightly or wrongly, your first instinct may be to ignore it. I have always advised my clients to take a different approach. Having someone leave a review is much like having a customer come directly to you in person to complain. If that customer was standing in front of you telling you about how bad their experience was or how they weren't treated fairly, you wouldn't just walk away and ignore them. You would address their problem, offer suggestions on how to resolve it, and suggest returning in the future for a better experience. Basic customer service rules, right? Unfortunately, many small business owners and even larger brands tend to forget this rule when it comes to online reviews, leaving them unanswered and, at times, replying with an argumentative tone. Keep your responses light and customer service based and do so in a timely manner. The reviewer may never come back to you but what you're doing is showing future searchers/users how you care about your business AND your customers, no matter what type of review they leave.
Follow up on reviews
If you've worked in sales, in any capacity, you have heard the phrase "follow-up" more times than you can count. Follow up calls/emails/interactions can seem tiresome and sometimes like the last task you want to complete. But, those few minutes of contact with your previous customers can help build lasting relationships and repeat business. After a request for reviews has been sent out, you should have a process in place on how often you will reach out to your customer and what that process looks like. Is it sending out future emails? Does it involve more connection through social media? Is it dropping them a note in the mail to thank them again for their business? The key to a successful sale is not the sale itself but the relationship you build after the transaction is complete.
Don't let the fear of asking for reviews stop you from keeping this process part of your marketing plan. It can feel uncomfortable asking for reviews, especially if you are a small business owner. But, if you don't ask then you are losing a connection with your customers. If you don't stay connected, how will you learn and grow? How will you improve your sales and follow-up process or refine the services that you offer? Don't let the fear of negative reviews stop you from building up your brand and pushing you past your competitors. After all, the goal with any business should be building last relationships, creating a solid brand, and cultivating a variety of new and repeat customers.