We live in an age where word of mouth advertising and positive reviews can literally make or break a company. Online reviews are so easily accessible and so heavily relied upon that they’re often a first line of information for many people when it comes to choosing a business, buying a product or hiring a professional! Moreover, companies like Yelp! and even social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have realized the power of reviews and have now made it easier than ever for customers to leave them.
The result of all of this is a necessity for businesses to focus on bolstering their online reputation, by soliciting positive reviews from customers who are willing to give them. This isn’t as easy a task as it might sound, however.
Understanding the reviewer
There are three levels of reviews and three distinct segments of users who are going to leave them:
- The positive reviewer, who is going to leave glowing feedback for your company based on a fantastic experience.
- The negative reviewer, who will be prompted to leave negative feedback based on an experience that leaves them feeling dissatisfied.
- The neutral reviewer, who will not often leave a review without being enticed or prompted, but who can be persuaded to leave a generally positive review.
As you might imagine from the descriptions above, the major focus of a campaign to generate positive user reviews for your business online is going to focus on the neutral review group. Positive and negative reviewers will generally lend their voice to your reputation without being asked to, which means you’re going to be mostly focused on getting reluctant customers to share their opinions in a positive manner.
Getting a handle on the review process
Many companies make a single critical mistake when it comes to soliciting online reviews: they don’t control the variables of the review.
What does this mean? Well, in simplest terms, it means not taking into account the thought process of your audience when asking them to leave an unbiased review of your business.
For example, if you send off an email to 1000 customers asking for a review of your company, you’re leaving a huge chunk of variables unaccounted for:
- Do you know if the last experience of each customer was positive or negative?
- Are they a recurring customer or a first time customer?
- Are they familiar with leaving reviews on various websites or unfamiliar?
The above are just a few examples of variables that could dictate a review one way or another, and these are variables that you need to try and control when it comes to determining your company’s reputation!
Techniques for soliciting the right reviews
Targeting a neutral audience and controlling the variables that might dictate a review can be encompassed with the right execution when asking for feedback. Here are some good examples of solicitation campaigns that have been proven to yield not just more feedback, but positive feedback:
- If you have a customer service email, consider having representatives send feedback links and surveys after a complete resolution of an issue. If the issue was resolved quickly, thoroughly and to an acceptable level, in a friendly manner, a customer is more apt to leave positive feedback about their experience.
- Consider running a survey campaign after a huge sale or discount period. Customers will be happy because of the recent discount and will be more apt to leaving positive reviews because their purchases will have more perceived value.
- For service-based businesses, ask for reviews in a manner that conveys the importance to a customer. “Much of our business comes from word of mouth,” or “we get a lot of business through the reviews people leave,” or something to that effect. Empathy is a strong motivator and sometimes, people simply need to realize the power of their reviews in order to leave them.
The concept of every good review solicitation campaign is simple: inspire someone to leave a positive review. And while the concept may be simple, the execution is not always so simple, meaning you may have to get inventive with your methods. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different campaigns on a micro-level to see what works for you, then expand this idea on a macro scale to really build your business’ reputation online.
If your business isn’t focused on garnering online reviews from customers, it should be. Take the first step in the right direction and give some of the ideas presented above a thought. Once you get the hang of shaping your online reputation, the rest is up to your customers—try to make sure you’re hearing nothing but good things from customers who are happy to tell their story!