How To Get Online Reviews for Restaurants and More
How to Elicit Online Reviews
Because social media is such a significant part of everyday life, online reviews of your business play a large role in how that business is perceived and defined. Entrepreneurs of all types once relied heavily on word-of-mouth, but now most potential customers want to learn about an establishment or company directly from those who have already experienced it; furthermore, they want opinions from a larger number of people, not just one or two folks they might know in real life who can vouch for the business.
Consequently (depending on the size and type of business), a four or five-star rating holds more weight with a business that has a higher number of individual reviews than with one that only has a handful. For this reason, getting your customers to take some time out of their busy lives to leave a review online should be an important part of your business process. It is worth noting that you should encourage customers to be honest in their reviews, so as not to appear discriminating to someone who may have had a bad experience. The best way to overcome a bad review is to counteract it with several good ones.
The following list offers a variety of ways for you to elicit (but not buy) online reviews.
- Just ask! This may seem too simple or obvious, but customers already know how important online reviews are. When finishing up a transaction, many business owners and their employees ask customers how their experience was that day; if you get a positive answer, follow that up by asking them to take a minute to leave online feedback. You might be surprised by how many people are happy to do so, especially if they are satisfied customers.
- Aim for big third-party sites, not just the ones relevant to your particular industry. In addition to customer testimonials, go for the bigger sites to help your SEO. TrustLink is a general review site which shows up on Google, so you’ll have plenty of online visibility.
- Make it easy. It shouldn’t take more than a few seconds for people to navigate from their mobile device or computer where to leave a review, and you’re best bet is to make your business easy to find and rate on several different sites. Place working hyperlinks on your business website to your review profiles (Facebook, Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.). If possible, hand out small cards with your request for a review that includes links or a QR code to scan. Many companies even have this information printed on the bottom of receipts.
- Keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm your customers with too many places to leave reviews. Guide them to landing pages for sites on which your business may need some extra attention; change this periodically on an as-needed basis. In addition, focus on sites that allow users to login with Facebook or Google because most people will not take the extra time to create a new account just for that review website.
- Gamify the review process. Who doesn’t love a good contest? While it’s important that you should only be soliciting reviews as opposed to good reviews, an effective way to encourage people to review your business is to turn it into a game, no matter how simple. It could be a weekly or monthly giveaway in which a random reviewer is chosen to receive an exclusive coupon or free sample. By making the review process fun, you will attract more customers to leave feedback.
- Don’t forget to say “thank you.” If not in person, find unique ways to thank those customers who have left reviews. If on Facebook for example, reply to each review or comment on your page with a brief word of gratitude. Your patrons will be assured that they are appreciated and in turn will create loyal customers. It may even behoove you to ask for feedback on the spot if your business is conducive to that kind of service; just set up an avenue in which a customer can pull out his or her cell phone and leave a quick rating. Provide a sincere thank you before they leave, and perhaps distribute an exclusive coupon or discount code good for a future visit given only to instant reviewers.
Finally, don’t be afraid of negative reviews. It’s always a good idea to provide a place for customers to leave negative feedback privately. Respond professionally, appropriately, and if possible, rectify the situation as quickly as you can.
Online reviews can have a wonderfully positive influence on your business, so continue finding creative and unique ways to elicit them from your customers. You will be able to reach a wider market and grow your business.