I’ve been involved in online marketing and the review industry for a number of years and if there is one constant I hear from business owners, it is frustration about getting their customers to review their business. I’ve learned a number of valuable lessons and insights, from both reviewers and businesses about what works and what doesn’t and in the process I find myself learning more than I imagined about human nature.
When I started in online reputation marketing I imagined that the majority of customers would leave feedback, if invited to, but I’ve learned that not all will, and that’s OK. The key to building an online reputation is established by three things – persistency, patience, and acceptance. That means persistence in asking for reviews, patience in building an online reputation over time, and acceptance that not all customers will review, even if they are overjoyed with a product or work done.
Human beings are easily distracted and generally lead busy lives. So when customers say they will leave feedback, some will either forget to, or will lose their focus. It’s important to realise that and not to take the failure to leave feedback personally. There is absolutely no reason not to follow up with them and remind them. Many who are asked twice will review but after asking twice with no result, it is best to let it go. That customer, who is incredibly satisfied, is still an advocate for a business and will spread goodwill by actual word-of-mouth. Furthermore, they will more than likely be a return customer, purely because they are satisfied.
Persistence in asking is not about hounding a customer, it is about setting up and adhering to a ritual, and establishing routines for inviting customers to leave feedback. That can take different forms but once established and put in place, customers will review.
The first step is to ask – to invite feedback when a job is completed, to plant the seed with a customer that their point of view is valued and appreciated. The next step is to include a link to leave feedback in the invoice. The third step is to follow up that request in an email a few weeks later. That process, for example, automates the review request and normalises it as an essential element of a business’ practice.
Patience goes hand in hand with acceptance and persistence and removes frustration when not all customers review. In my professional experience, I would say that a 50% yield of reviews from requests is good, anything over that is great, and anything under that requires fine tuning the review request process itself.
I am occasionally surprised by business owners who can’t commit to the honesty and transparency of online reviews, telling me they don’t want to ask their customers for feedback as they are uncomfortable about imposing. Well, reviews are an established facet of the relationship between business and customers now. A created fear should never be an impediment in life, or business and there is far too much to be gained from online reviews, and far too much to lose from not committing to online reputation marketing.