Thanks to the Internet, word-of-mouth advertising for the small-business owner is powerful and long-lasting. When an infinite number of reviewers can share their opinions online, the potential for exposure and increased business becomes exponential.
According to the Harvard Business Review, online peer-to-peer reviews are powerful because they give customers a good sense of what it’s like to use your goods or services. Small-business owners can tout their services, but customers are more likely to believe other customers.
OPEN Forum community member Robert Chamul understands the game-changing results of reviews, which is why the owner of Mr. Sewer Rooter recently asked the community:
“What’s a great way to get customers to write reviews for you? I just started my plumbing and sewer contracting company and wanted to get feedback from our customers of our service.”
Based on their experiences, several OPEN Forum community members chimed in to answer Chamul’s question.
“The best way to get reviews is to ask for them,” says Jeff Motter, CEO and chief marketing officer of East Bay Marketing Group. “And the best time to ask is when you finish the job and are with them.”
"While excitement and satisfaction is still in the air about your service, ask for some feedback," agrees Bret Bonnet, chief marketing officer of Quality Logo Products. “Don’t be afraid to say to clients, ‘Hey, if we helped you, we'd be grateful if you let people know.’ They might take to Yelp themselves."
Make It Easy
A certain percentage of satisfied customers will take the time and make the effort to review your company on sites like MerchantCircle and Yelp, but an even larger percentage are more likely to do so if you pave the way and make the process as easy and convenient as possible.
“Create some sample testimonials that they can use as a model, and give them a form to fill out,” Motter says.
If you meet with customers in person, give out business cards that list your URL on various review sites so that it’s easy for them to locate places to leave a review, and include your email so they can send the review directly to you if they prefer, says Bonnet. “A line that reads, ‘Send us your feedback or questions' works well,” he says. Or send such information out via email right after the job is complete. Include a brief questionnaire or survey.
Bonnet also suggests placing a feedback form on your website and posting a status update on your company Facebook page that asks how you’ve been doing. Existing and new fans will see the post and hear about how pleased your customers are.
"Don't be afraid to offer some sort of minor incentive for submission," suggests Michael Korolishin, an intern with Media Wizardz. Give out incentives that make sense and relate to your business, such as percentage off coupons for future services or products, free gifts and promotional pieces.
If you want to build up reviews quickly, try holding a contest. For a specified period of time, enter anyone who gives a review into a drawing for a more expensive and impressive item, such as an iPad or a gift card.
Spotlight the Customer
Most people like to be the center of attention. When you do receive referrals, highlight those customers who took the time to provide them. Ask if you can share their testimonials on your website and social media, and make the mention even more of an event by including a picture of the person with the testimonial.
Or go a step further and create a short video of you interviewing the satisfied customer, suggests Jason Reis, owner and lead programmer of Flehx Corp. “After a service call is complete, you (as the owner) can make a video personally thanking the customer for giving you the opportunity to work for him or her,” Reis says. “The video would be 30 seconds or less. Make sure to mention the customer’s name at least twice in the video. Then post the video to YouTube and send the customer a personal email with the link to the video. This is sure to get your customers talking about you in a very positive way.”
Follow a Routine
Not everyone will get around to giving you reviews, even when you ask. But if you incorporate the task of making the request into your regular business routine, you will begin to accumulate an impressive amount of reviews.
“Create a process that you and all of your people will follow on each and every job,” Motter says. “This will guarantee that you will have testimonials and referrals. The best part is that if you do this, you will have designed a real business system that will always produce results.”
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