You know you need to encourage customers / clients / patients for reviews. If you don’t, you’re stunting your local visibility and your ability to get the phone to ring. Easier said than done. Your effort to earn reviews quickly turns into a juggling act:
- Some customers may need instructions.
- You want good reviews.
- You want to be ethical.
To accomplish all that takes strategy on your part, as I’ve described before. But what about your customers’ role? What do they have to know? More than you might expect. I can think of 12 points (in order of importance) that you should make sure your customers know before they write you a review:
1. It’s OK not to write a review. (We also appreciate testimonials, by the way.)
2. If you simply don’t feel like reviewing us, please feel free to tell us why. (For example, did we ask too early? Does it seem like too much work?)
3. Any site is great. But if you truly have no preference, we always like reviews on [Site A] or [Site B].
4. We appreciate detail. Please write about whatever parts of your experience with us you’d like to write about. But if you just don’t know where to start, maybe mention the specific service we provided, what problem caused you to come our way in the first place, and what you thought of our customer-service.
5. We want your honest opinion.
6. We’d love to know how we can do a better job.
7. Here are some instructions, in case they help. Of course, please let us know if you still have questions.
8. It’s fine if you’d rather not use your full name or real name. Even on Google+.
9. It’s OK to name names, if one of our people was especially helpful. In fact, we’d appreciate it.
10. It’s great if you feel like reviewing us on more than one site, if you’re just as happy as a clam.
11. We’d love if you’d mention how you found us in the first place. (Did you read any reviews?)
12. You can always edit your review later.
A couple notes
#4 (about how you appreciate detail):
This is the only good, ethical way to encourage keywords – which may help your rankings, and which on Google+ influence your business’s review snippets.
#7 (about providing instructions):
#10 (about posting more than one review):
Yelp is the most likely of any site to take down a review if it’s a duplicate of another. I’ve noticed Yelp to be lax about duplicate content, though
What to do
I’m not saying you should rattle off that long list to all your customers. That may overwhelm them. Just get a sense of what they probably know already, and then find a way to impart the rest.
That’s a lot to absorb for you, too. But you’ve got to try. Being 100% clear about what you’re looking for and not looking for is the only way to encourage reviewers and good reviews without being pushy.
By the way, I suggest you also read this excellent old post by Mike Blumenthal. It will help you internalize the points I mentioned. That is the goal here. You don’t want to over-explain yourself to customers, but you do want to address their concerns proactively or as they come up in different situations.
Any points you’d add? What do you tell your customers? Leave a comment!