Business review sites continue to proliferate the web. Local directories and search sites have joined the customer review bandwagon of dedicated review sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp and DealerRater. As a result it is becoming increasingly important for businesses of all sizes to devise a thoughtful strategy to encourage positive internet reviews and maintain control of their internet reputation.
Popular review sites such as Yelp.com, DealerRater.com, and Local.com have strict policies about reviews in order to maintain the legitimacy of their brand. They strongly advise against asking customers directly for positive reviews. Posted guidelines suggest that reviews are best when they happen organically. However, businesses are motivated to seek out the best and most positive reviews in order to maximize their online reputations.
The following recommendations are biased towards the interest of the business, but remain ethical and transparent. Since these ideas are relatively generic, specific strategies need to be tailored to the particular industry and customer.
- Ensure customer comment cards and surveys ask for an email address, then followup on all positive surveys pointing them to your preferred review site.
- Train staff to encourage customers to visit your website to post comments on a survey page (web address on a receipt works well). Then, followup on all positive comments with links to the review site. Followup on criticisms with good customer service.
- Pass out note cards with an invite to rate the business on the review site and reward and/or recognize staff who do this well.
- After making a sale, invite the customer to visit the site and make a comment.
- Have a kiosk, tablet or computer available in the business for clients to post reviews.
- Invite people who make positive comments via the web, word of mouth or social media to make their voice public on a review site.
For more specific ideas on strategies for your particular business drop me a note or comment on this blog with your own ideas!