Previously, good reviews might help a potential customer decide whether to purchase your product or service . . . once you’ve already done the hard work of getting that individual in the door (real or virtual). Now with web sites and apps dedicated to company reviews, they can actually be a form publicity . . . serving as the driver that leads the potential customer to your doorstep. So . . . how do you get reviews? If you already have an established business and customer base, sure, reviews will just happen. And they will help you get more customers, which will land you more reviews, and so on. However, if you’re at the beginning stage of your journey, getting a large number of good reviews may be a little more challenging. In that case, you can take a few steps to help speed the process along. . . .
1. Get your company listed on review web sites.
If your company isn’t already listed on Yelp (or whatever the review site is for your industry), your happy customer probably isn’t going to go to the trouble to add you . . . so lay the appropriate groundwork in advance. Make sure you know which review web sites your customers go to and add your company along with as much additional information as you can (pictures, address, phone number, etc.).
2. Ask your customers for a review.
I believe the most effective way to convince a happy customer to go the extra mile for your business is to personally take the time to ask for a review. If asking in person isn’t possible and you have other contact information, send an e-mail or a text. Be sincere and straightforward.
3. Ask again.
You don’t want to make yourself a bother, but one follow-up is completely appropriate. Your happy customer could have had every intention of posting a review for you and simply forgot; a simple follow-up could make all the difference. If, on the other hand, your customer never intended to write a review, ignoring two of your attempts probably won’t be too traumatic for them.
4. Display a sign.
A personal request isn’t always feasible. For those occasions, a sign placed in a prominent area (possibly next to your register) that makes the request visually can be a good idea. (See: Creating a Review Request Sign in Microsoft Word)
5. Include a request with your product.
Another option for a less personal request is a physical note included with your product – the more you can make the request stand out, the better your chances of getting your customers’ attention. (See: Clever Customer Service)
6. Reply to existing reviews.
Some review venues enable you, as the owner, to respond to reviews. You can thank the customer for their kind words or you can try to explain or apologize for less-than-stellar feedback. Sometimes, your visible presence will encourage other customers to share their thoughts.
7. Offer an incentive.
You can always sweeten the pot a little by offering a dollar amount or percentage off on a future purchase as a thank you for a review, which could help with repeat sales as well.
8. Offer a product sampling.
If all else fails, you may need to be willing to give away your product or service for free in order to get your initial reviews. You can either utilize a company to supervise the process, you can informally reach out to people you know, or you can post the offer on social media.
9. Be review worthy.
This one is entirely open to interpretation and can be tailored to represent your unique brand . . . whether you ship your product with a free bonus item, offer an appealing gift wrapping for free, or send a thoughtful thank you note after a purchase, try to do something that makes your company and product stand out from the crowd a bit and inspires customers to rave about their experience.