You may have already heard that online reviews account for a large part of the business that takes place around the world, but how do you go about getting them. Is it prudent for you to solicit for reviews from your customers and will this not put people off of doing business with you? Is it even allowed to solicit for reviews from people? And what’s involved when you ask for reviews from people?
What do the review sites say?
There are hundreds of business listing websites out there, and it’s therefore not really surprising that they all come with different terms and conditions with regard to the solicitation of customer reviews. We are not going to be able to cover them all in this article. We are, however, going to look at two of the most popular platforms; Google and Yelp?
Google encourages businesses to ask for reviews from customers
On one side of the spectrum is Google, which actually encourages businesses to ask for reviews from their customers. We have previously talked about Google My Business and how you can claim or create a listing on the platform, allowing you to feature prominently in local search on Google Search and in Maps.
Google encourages you, once you have claimed your listing, to remind the people that you do business with to leave reviews on the platform. You are also encouraged, as you can see by reading the article in the provided link, to respond to reviews in a timely manner as a way of building customer trust.
Yelp does not allow businesses to ask for reviews from customers
Yelp, on the other hand, actively discourages businesses that are listed on the platform from soliciting for reviews from their customers. There are several reasons why Yelp takes this position;
- The company believes that reviews should be organic, meaning they should come naturally and not as a result of solicitation.
- Business have a tendency to only ask for reviews from their happiest customers, which tends to distort the whole process, as far as online feedback being supposed to help consumers make informed decisions is concerned.
Yelp actually has software that is designed to detect when a review is from a customer who has been actively solicited to comment on a particular product or service. The company advises that the way forward as far as getting stellar reviews is concerned involves providing a memorable service to customers.
Why Yelp does not allow businesses to ask for reviews
The major issue, when it comes to the solicitation of reviews, is that of trust. With as many as 88% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations, allowing people to only get recommendations from satisfied customers would actually work against the entire online reviews process.
Offering compensation for reviews
If you have researched online reviews long enough, you will have heard recommendations to the effect that the best way through which you can get more of them is by offering an incentive to your customers. This could be in the form of coupons or discounts on their next purchases.
Indeed, many of the Online Reputation Management companies that are out there promote this service as part of their packages.
Yelp frowns upon offering incentives for reviews
The thing to note is that Yelp’s terms and conditions actually forbid the offering of incentives for online reviews. The company is actively on the lookout “to protect consumers from such activities.”
To ask or not to ask
Now, back to the question, should you actively ask for reviews from your customers? Well, the answer is, it all depends on the platform on which you wish to have the reviews posted. If you are looking to have reviews posted on Google and other platforms that allow the practice, then, by all means, go ahead and ask. Otherwise, you should allow online reviews to come organically, which is a much more natural way of getting the feedback that tells you what people really think about your company.
How to properly collect online reviews
As we have already noted, the policies that are used by Google and Yelp are at variance with one another. The key, in any case, to getting people to review your products and services, involves making it easier for people to give you feedback.
Without necessarily soliciting for online reviews, you can have a section where people can leave feedback right on your website. Just take the example of Amazon as an example. The platform allows people to provide feedback as far as individual products and services are concerned. Not only that, but it also showcases the feedback as a star based system.
Automating the process of gathering reviews
One easy way of going about the process involves automating the process of gathering and syndicating online reviews. Most of the ORM companies that are out there provide you with the ability to do this. What happens is that you usually get software that you can embed into your website.
Whenever someone buys from you, the system will then send a request for a review to that person. This is more or less what happens if you have ever bought eBooks from Amazon. Once a sufficient amount of time has elapses for you to have read the book, you then receive an email asking you for a review.
Asking for reviews: Available mediums
So, other than having space on your website where people can ask for reviews, how else are you going to get feedback from your customers?
- Via email
- Through SMS
- Over the Phone
- At the point of sale
It’s all about timing
Whatever the medium that you end up using, getting reviews from your customers is mostly about timing. It’s all, of course, going to depend on the kind of products and services that you specialize in. We have already given the example of Amazon, which waits a sufficient amount of time before asking for reviews from people who buy eBooks through the platform.
You also should avoid being a pest. Under most circumstances, people are not really motivated to give feedback, and asking once is probably good enough without turning them against your brand.