“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?
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