Who Should Ask for Reviews: Business Owner or Employee?

“Phil, how do I get more reviews?”

I’m asked that all the time.

What I’m almost never asked is who should ask customers, clients, or patients for reviews.  That’s a shame, because a good strategy + the wrong person = the wrong strategy.

Business owners or others who work at the company should be the ones asking for reviews.  Not marketers or SEOs. Not reputation-management people. Not programs.  They don’t know the customers, and customers feel zero obligation toward them.

If someone in-house needs to ask for reviews, the question becomes: who?

My advice usually is: the higher up the chain of command, the better.

But there are pros and cons to having the business owner ask customers for reviews, versus having someone else in the company do it.  Here are all the arguments I can think of for each approach:

Why employees should ask for reviews:

Reason 1:  Customers might have interacted only with one specific employee. He or she is the “contact” person for those customers.  A request from anyone else might seem out-of-place.

 

Reason 2:  Certain customers may feel a bond with a specific employee – the one who worked with them personally.

Reason 3:  Employees may have a better sense of which customers are happy versus unhappy.

Reason 4:  The business owner may simply be short on time. (Still, he or she still should ask customers at least occasionally, if for no other reason than to see how well the process works and how customers feel.)

Why the business owner should ask for reviews:

Reason 1:  The customer may feel more important and listened-to. He or she will take offense if the brass seems unlikely ever to read the review, or if the business owner seems “too busy” and sends a messenger.

 

Reason 2:  The business owner is probably the one with the most interest in racking up reviews – the most skin in the game – and is most likely to apply the needed finesse.

Reason 3:  The business owner can see first-hand how well the review strategy works.

Reason 4:  The business owner is in the best position to field complaints and to make big-picture changes if need be. As Mike Blumenthal has said, “the issue is happy customers.”

Reason 5:  The business owner should know what’s involved in asking personally for a review, before asking his / her employees to do it. Lead by example.

 

Reason 6:  The business owner is more likely to know the SEO strategy, and to know where the holes are. “We need reviews on Facebook,” or “We can’t ask customers to go to Yelp, or else they’ll run into the filter.”

Reason 7:  The business owner will feel at more liberty not to ask for a review. An employee may ask a ticked-off customer for a review because the boss wasn’t clear about which customers should be asked.

Reason 8:  The business owner can mention that employees get bonuses for exceptional service. I suppose an employee could say, “FYI, I’ll receive a little bonus if you’re thrilled with the work I did for you.”  But that could be awkward.

Reason 9: The customer may feel freer to call out a specific employee who didn’t cut the mustard. Yes, the criticism will sting, but it’s better to have an honest bad review than a vague bad review.  At least one shows you where there’s room for improvement.

Reason 10: The boss will be in an even better position to mine the reviews.

Even though I can think of many more reasons for the business owner to ask for reviews than for anyone else to do it, it’s worth having different people try their hands.  Who knows who will get the most and best reviews.

Who on your crew asks for reviews?

What’s the thinking behind your strategy?

Leave a comment!

Boss Jobs in Local SEO

I’m talking about the specific tasks in a local SEO campaign that the boss of the company must do personally.

boss-jobs

The boss: the one person who can’t quit or get fired, who most wants more customers, and who ultimately has to fix any problems that keep customers away.

The tasks: few in number and pretty easy stuff, but stuff that only one person can do.

Everyone wants a 100% hands-free solution to getting visible in Google’s local search results and beyond – a way to get the phone to ring without his/her involvement.  I offer something mighty close to that, but it’s 90% hands-free; there’s that 10% that the person in-charge must do, or there’s a logjam and the crucial to-dos don’t get done.

I walk my clients through that 10%, and I’m going to lay out those tasks for you right now.

If you’re not the boss, I suggest you saunter over to the corner office now, interrupt your boss’s mini-golf, and have a read-aloud.

If you’re the boss, read on.  Because if you don’t personally do the below, you’re hurting your local rankings and visibility, limiting your ability to attract new customers, and letting down any employees who depend on you for a paycheck.

Boss Job #1:  Understand how long a good local SEO effort can take to bring results, and work on growing other sources of visibility/customers in the meantime, if necessary.  I’m the biggest local SEO advocate there is.  But building a business on one source of visibility is like building a chair with one leg.

Boss Job #2:  Be or hand-pick the person at your company who will do the phone-verifications for the really important listings.

I’m talking mainly about ExpressUpdate, LocalEze, CitySearch, YellowPages, and Yelp.  (And FourSquare, if you’re gung-ho.)

Those sites require someone who works at your company to pick up the phone at the number you use for your local listings and enter a spoken PIN into the site where you’re trying to create/claim your listing.

If you use call-forwarding, that person will need to disable the forwarding so that he/she can pick up the phone at the number that’s displayed on your listings.

If you can do the phone-verifications personally, great.  But if not, hand-pick the person who will.  You’ll want to know exactly whom to take out to the toolshed if it doesn’t get done.

Boss Job #3:  Buy the domain name and hosting of your site(s) personally.

As in not through a third party, even if you pay that third party to do work on your site.

Same reason as for Boss Job #2.

Boss Job #4:  Have personal control of the Google account used to create/claim your Google+ Local listing, your Bing listing, and your citations.

If someone quits or is fired, you should still have access to all your listings.

Boss Job #5:  Oversee the process of asking customers for reviews.

Nobody outside of your company can or should do it.  It’s a question of who in-house should do it.  It should either be someone high-up – so that the customer doesn’t feel like a non-priority – or it should be the person who actually performed the service for the customer.

If you aren’t that person or pick the person who will ask customers, either the reviews won’t come because it’s “someone else’s” job to ask for them, or the results won’t be good.

Boss Job #6:  Oversee the writing of any blog posts or “content” that’s put on your site.

I do NOT mean you should write each piece (or any) personally, nor do I mean that you should even critique or proofread more than a few of them from time to time.

What I am saying you need to do is make sure the person who does the writing (1) won’t pump out keyword-stuffed drivel that’s laden with anchor text and that might win you a black eye from Google, (2) won’t plagiarize, (3) won’t incur photo-copyright violations, and (4) won’t write stuff that’s so bad that would-be customers hit the “back” button.

The good news is everything else you can delegate to employees or to people with the necessary skills.  Yep, I’m referring to that other 90% of the work that goes into a good local SEO campaign.

Any other “boss jobs” that you can think of?  Questions about how to do any of them?  Leave a comment!