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Clicking on a business listing on Google with zero reviews is like walking into a store with no signboard. I just wanna get a sandwich for my lunch, not a panic attack wondering what kind of service I’ll be getting.
“It’d be great if you can give us a review. Do you mind if we send you an e-mail with a quick guide to it?”
This is the most direct way to ask for reviews. While sending your clients off, you can offer them a simple line as above. A happy satisfied client will be more willing to leave you a review. Follow up quickly with an e-mail with instructions like so. Being requested directly like this, more often than not the clients would say okay. But there is always the risk that they won’t follow up with their promise. Sending them an e-mail can act as a little reminder.
Instead of e-mailing your clients with the guide, you can also just give them handouts. That way it’s even more informative. After that, if you want you can send them an e-mail with the guide again as a reminder. That may come off too pushy though. So make sure your clients are really happy and willing to give you a review before doing this.
That way, perspectively, it would feel more like a “Hey, just in case you need it but lost it, here’s the guide.” instead of “Hey, we need your review, don’t forget to review us now!”
Encouraging your customers to give you a review is ok, bribing them or buying reviews, on the other hand, are not. There are instances where Google would take down reviews if it’s exposed that they’re fueled by bribery. While Yelp doesn’t want you to ask for reviews at all.
Now, what you can do to encourage reviews but in a more offhanded way is by putting up signs in your premise. Stick a little sticker on your door saying review us on Google, Yelp, and Facebook etc. Or put up little signs on your counter. You’re not actively asking them for a review. But you’re telling them that they can give you a review if they want to.
You can also create a “review us” page on your website. Showcase some testimonials, ratings or reviews on your website. That gives them some examples on how to write a review in case they are not familiar with it. Then link them to review sites directly. You’re asking for something from them, putting in some effort to make it hassle free for them will pay off for you in the long run. There are some free websites out there that can help save you some trouble such as Owly, bitly, or this plugin from GetFiveStars.
Now that some reviews started to dribble in, you gotta show them that you appreciate their effort. They are not obliged to give you a review, instead, they’re doing you a favor. So it’s only right if you return the sentiment.
A simple trick to make a thank you message sound more personal is by addressing them by their name. “Thank you, Kate. I’m glad that you’re happy with our service. Hope to see you again.” would sound better than “Thank you, hope to see you again.”
Replying to a bad review though is a little more tricky. First of all, APOLOGIZE. Pacify them first before explaining yourself then offer a solution and finally end the reply with another apologize and express your desire to turn this situation around.
Identify what went wrong is a very important part of handling a bad review. Give them the reason for why it happened. Don’t give an excuse. A lousy excuse will only agitate the customer more. Don’t shift the blame to the customer. What’s worse, don’t take it personally and go into defensive mode. Remember that it’s business and you need to stay professional.
Notice how they both sound apologetic and tried to make amends. A review posted online is there for everyone to see. You wouldn’t want to get into an ugly argument because of a bad review in front of every one of your potential customers. Answering a bad review is showing every potential customer out there that you care. It shows that you want the best experience for your customers. That you will go to great lengths to make it up for any less than satisfied customers. That is what I call great customer service.
Now we want reviews, but we also only want good reviews. I mentioned how answering to a bad review can show the potential customers that you care. But isn’t it better if you don’t get any bad reviews in the first place? A way to help curb on bad reviews is to make sure you resolved any complains before they have the chance to reach the reviews sites. You can achieve that by encouraging feedback on the spot. In your premise where you’re present and can have a face to face conversation with an unsatisfied customer.
Again you can go the more straightforward way or the offhanded way. The straightforward way is, of course, asking something along the way “Is everything ok? Can I help you with anything?”. Make sure you tend to the customers’ need. If you’re running a service-based business. Let the customer review your work result and make sure they’re satisfied with your work. If they aren’t, you can handle the situation right away.
Like before, you can put on little signs around your premise. “Ask us anything!” or “Approach any of our staff members if you need help.” Putting up signs like this around the store can encourage customers to reach out to you first. Handling any unsatisfied customer first can curb them from having the anger bubbling in their chest and lash it out on review sites. At that time, it will take more effort and time to turn around their anger or disappointment.
Making sure your customers are satisfied and happy is the surefire way to ensure happy review in return. Therefore, start working on customer service to make sure they are having a good experience. Like I mentioned before, happy customers are more willing to leave you a review. Their reviews will also, of course, be positive reviews. The kind that everyone likes.
Reviews are not only useful for potential customers to decide whether they want to pay you a visit. It is also useful for the business owner to understand what people like or don’t like about your business. Monitor it actively so you can express your gratitude to happy customers. Handle any less than satisfied customers. Along the way, you can understand what you need to do to give your customer the ultimate experience to make sure they’ll only be leaving you praises on the internet.
Little gestures are what make an experience unique. Here’s a personal example, my favorite Japanese restaurants provide every table of customers with warm hand towels before the meal is served. That little gesture really makes the difference. You can start putting in little uniques gestures that may enhance a customers experience. Then monitor the reviews to see whether they noticed. If they do, voila! Now you know what gives you extra points.
Thank any customers who give you a suggestion, or have listed out what they like or don’t like about their experience with you. Compile all the points together. If a point is being mentioned frequently, take it into consideration and make a change accordingly.
This can only be achieved if you actually receive reviews. Be it good reviews or bad reviews they will be helpful for you to gain incredible insights on customer experience.
Last but not least, everyone takes pride in owning a good business where customers are satisfied and good reviews are gushing in. However, don’t take it personally if a bad review does happen.
You did everything. You encouraged feedbacks from customers. You attend to their every calls and cry. You trained your staff to be as attentive as possible. But still, one morning you woke up to a one-star review after a long hard day of work. I can imagine how heartbreaking this is for you. But does the customers care that they broke your heart? No, they won’t. For them this is business and they only expected the best for what they’ve paid.
So you gotta remember to treat it as business as well. Stay professional, remember that business is business and customer may not all be friends. Put on your best business smile (although they can’t see it behind the screen you get the gist), apologize and offer to amend to turn that angry customer around. Pull your hair out if you want. But once again they won’t care.
So the best way to handle this is to don’t take it personally and treat it as professional as you can. Make sure they’ll be satisfied with what you can offer as a peacemaking handshake. Turn that angry customer into a happy one, make sure they leave you a good review this time. That is the only way you can win this and gain something in return.
Encourage reviews either by actively asking or subtly by putting on “review us” signs. Respond to your reviews professionally but with a personal touch. Encourage on the spot feedbacks to curb any bubbling negative reviews. Take what your customers say into consideration to provide them with better service and lastly stay professional. Don’t take bad reviews personally, remember that business is business. If you manage to turn an unsatisfied customer into a happy one, consider that a win.
Updated: 16 February 2019