online review being posted

Online Reviews Matter–But Don’t Ask for Them

You know that many prospects for your business now shop reviews in much the way they used to use search engines and shop the results of search. Because of this, reviews are important. You’re tempted to ask your customers to write reviews. But that’s not the best way to get reviews. In this post, I explain why it’s a bad idea to ask for reviews, and what you should do instead.

The Transaction

The logical time to ask for a review is at the close of a transaction. The patient is checking out, the customer is paying for a purchase at the cash register, the restaurant patron is paying the check. But that’s a poor time. You’ve done your job of delivering the goods or services the customer wants from you–and the customer has met their obligation, by paying. So the transaction is complete, all obligations are met.

If you ask for a review now, when both sides have met their obligations, you’re asking for a favor–the customer is not in your debt. Your most dedicated customers, who’ve been coming to you for a long time, will feel obligated and will write a review, but most won’t do so. They’re being asked for a favor, and they may or may not get to it. There’s no compelling reason for them to review you, even if they’re quite happy with what they’ve received. They may even be somewhat annoyed that you’ve asked them to do a review.

Yes, if you use this approach, you’ll get a few reviews–but you bother all your customers with a request, and only a few of them will deliver. Do you want to ask a favor of all your customers in order to get just a few reviews?

Another Approach

There’s a way to turn the tables on this situation. Instead of asking for a favor, start the dialogue of getting a review by complimenting the customer! Ask the customer to tell you how satisfied they were with the goods and services that they’ve received. This is not asking them to proclaim your goodness to the world; instead, it’s complimenting them by demonstrating the importance of their opinion of you. Again, not everyone will reply, but at worst you’ve ended the transaction with a compliment to them, rather than asking for a favor.

Once you get a reply to your request for an opinion, you now have an opportunity. You’ve done a favor for the customer by receiving their opinion, and now you’re in a good position to ask for a favor. This is the time to ask the customer to please share their experience online with others, and pointing out that their sharing will help you and others as well.

Another benefit of this approach is that it lets you weed out any customers who weren’t satisfied, as well as that person we all see now and then who complains about things, no matter how good they are. Those people will tell you they aren’t happy about what they received, and now you have an opportunity to find out why and remedy the situation, and not ask them to complete a review.

If you’re actively seeking feedback, you’re likely to receive some surprises, as you learn about things that your customers don’t like that never occurred to you. This feedback will give you a continuing way to monitor just how your efforts are coming across with the people who really matter, your customers.

How to Do This

A good review management service, such as my own, is the way to implement this approach. You can distribute a card the size of a business card that says “How did we do today? Please give your opinion.” and put a QR code to scan and a URL to visit. Both take the customer to a feedback screen where they indicate the degree of happiness. The happiest are then asked if they’d please share their experience with others; the unhappiest have a chance to tell you why they aren’t happy.

Alternatively, if you’re in touch with customers via email, you can automatically send them an email asking how things went, following the same sequence. Or if you have a newsletter, you can simply cycle through your newsletter subscribers, sending out 5 to 10 emails a day asking that same first question. If you have a list of email addresses for all your customers, you can simply cycle through that, asking about the last interaction with you.

The Bottom Line

Instead of asking for a favor by asking for a review, instead do your customer a favor by asking for an opinion. Then ask the happiest customers for a review, and follow up with the less happy customers.

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