Links in this episode: Online Reviews and the Problem of Authenticity
When you want to try a new restaurant, you’ll probably pull out your phone and do a quick Google search for something in your area with decent reviews. Or, maybe you’re trying to find a new plumber and want to know what their customer service is like from someone who has worked with them recently. Reviews play a big role in a consumer’s decision-making process. So how do you go about getting good reviews for your business? Because satisfied customers are less likely than people who are unhappy to leave a review, you should have a strategy in place for getting reviews on a regular basis.
Claim Your Listings
In order to respond to and monitor the reviews for your business, you’ll want to claim your listing on the sites where people leave reviews in your industry. Google, Yelp, Facebook, and Tripadvisor are common sites where people leave reviews. Note that it doesn’t cost you anything to claim and manage your listing, but be aware that the platforms will try to encourage you to advertise with them. This is not required however.
The Do’s of Asking for a Positive Review
The easiest way to get someone to leave a positive review is to ask! In person is best, but call them, email them, direct message them on social media, on their receipts, just to name a few.
What you want to do is make it a regular part of following up with each new customer, because consistent reviews over time are best. There are also a number of platforms that will help you automate the process of getting reviews, but you need to make sure you use a platform that is following FTC guidelines.
The Don’ts of Asking for a Positive Review
The FTC has recently issued updated guidelines to help people understand what is considered a violation of their review policy. Not following the guidelines has consequences. One retailer, Fashion Nova, received a $4.2 million fine from the FTC because the platform they were using violated the guidelines. Examples of some violations include:
- Gating reviews. This is omitting reviews you don’t want searchers to see and only publishing positive reviews.
- People who have never used your business or service. Reviews have to be from actual customers. Sometimes businesses will have employees write positive reviews, and this is also not allowed.
- Offering incentives. You can’t offer an incentive for someone to write a review for you unless that incentive is clearly disclosed. If you do offer an incentive like a coupon or gift for leaving a review, the review must mention that incentive.
Although not against the FTC guidelines, you want to make sure that you are getting reviews consistently over time. Don’t get a bunch at once and then have no activity. The review platforms may hide these reviews if they think you have purchased fake reviews at one time.
Respond to Reviews
Make sure you respond to all your reviews, good and bad in a timely fashion. It lets people see that you are responsive to customers. For a negative review, always be professional. Acknowledge the complaint. Sometimes an explanation is necessary and that is appropriate, but you should offer a way for the reviewer to contact you privately to address their concerns.
Reviews are often the first point of contact a potential customer has with your business, so make them count.