There’s no denying the power of the online arena to increase visibility and boost sales, but with more and more shoppers letting their fingers do the walking, online reviews have become an essential tool for encouraging patronage. Businesses that have high consumer ratings and rave reviews are going to attract more customers than competitors with no reviews, or worse, poor ratings.
Naturally, you want to cultivate an avalanche of positive reviews online, but how can you make this happen when you’re reliant on your customers for this voluntary service? How can you ensure not only reviews, but good reviews?
It starts by providing stellar goods, services, and customer care, all of which make consumers feel valued and help you to build lasting relationships. From there, however, there are steps you can take to get the online reviews your business needs to compete. Here are a few easy and effective ways to generate positive reviews.
1. Encourage reviews
The place to start, of course, is by asking. You can certainly leave it up to the whims of customers, but very few are likely to take the initiative to review your business without some prompting.
There are a couple of ways to go about this. First, you could simply send out an automated email or text message urging customers to write reviews. However, if you want to ensure good reviews, you might want to pick and choose which customers you ask for reviews, targeting those that express satisfaction with your goods/services. Asking in person is also a good idea, especially when you’ve spent time on personal interaction with a customer, as in a retail or office setting.
2. Make it easy
Nobody wants to spend significant time on reviews, so you need to make the process easy. When you send an email or other message seeking a review, add easy click-through to a review site of your choosing. Make sure to select a format that is short and simple.
3. Offer incentives
There is some contention about offering incentives for reviews, but there’s a right and a wrong way to do it. Cash incentives are a major no-no – you don’t want to appear to purchase reviews. However, some businesses offer reward points that could result in discounts or prizes of some sort, with no actual promise of compensation.
4. Mention employee benefits
If customers have a good experience in a restaurant, they might leave a better-than-average tip to reward exceptional wait staff. How does this translate to online reviews? When employees mention to customers that good reviews can earn them promotions, raises, or bonuses of some kind, customers might be more inclined to leave reviews, knowing that their effort can help an employee they feel deserves special consideration.
5. Continue the conversation
When you receive reviews, good or bad, thank your customers for their input. Let them know you’re listening and you value their opinions. In cases of negative reviews, do not clap back, but instead use the information provided as an opportunity to improve and do what you can to work with the reviewer to turn their bad experience into a good one (and hopefully alter the review in the process).