Are reviews important? In today’s internet world, consumers are armed with more knowledge about the businesses and services they use than ever before. Rarely will a modern consumer make a decision on a product or provider before considering their reputation first.
So where do customers go to learn about your reputation? What signal does your online presence send to these prospects, before they’ve even called you? And most importantly, how can you leverage the power of this important resource to squash your competition?
This is the most important part of the Power of Reviews! Reviews don’t just tell your prospective customers about your prowess and place in the market. They send the signals to search engines (ie. Google, Yelp, Yahoo) that get you noticed.
If you’re searching for a dentist and don’t know who to choose, what do you do? Maybe you ask a friend or a family member for a recommendation. But if you’re visiting a new place, or entering into a space or industry that you have no connections to, who can you ask?
The answer is Google, or any other search engine. Consumers are so used to being able to type whatever question they have into the magic box, and have the exact answer spat out to show them the way.
Google Search: “best dentist Chicago”
How could an algorithm like Google’s determine who the best Dentist in Chicago is?
By reading reviews! And I’m not just talking about Google reviews (though the search engine loves to reward businesses that use their tools). Search engines also comb 3rd-party websites designed specifically to aggregate and gather reviews of professionals, businesses and more (think something along the lines of “ratemydentist.com”.
Websites like Google remain popular because they provide the best & most accurate results for their users. So its not just the business with the biggest spend, its the business with the biggest positive following.
Its not just the business with the biggest spend, its the business with the biggest positive following.
Depending on your industry, its possible lots of established players have little or no reviews. This is particularly true in the local business space, where there might be old-school competitors with little creativity but a bigger spend than yours.
Take real estate for example – an industry known for being intensely local and having a few big fish in a small bowl. As a newcomer to the party, how could someone ever hope to compete with an established agent, broker or group with an advertising budget 10x the size of theirs?
By leveraging smarts and creativity. In this case – REVIEWS. Most businesses, especially those that have been around for a longer period of time, are used to an older way of doing things: Avoiding public feedback from Customers & Clients at all costs.
Why? Because when they started their business, reviews only came back when they were BAD. And you can’t get a negative review if you don’t ask for a review at all.
If you understand that the most important websites for your business (ie. Google, Yelp), favour providers with the highest ratings, how could you not leverage this?
When you close a sale, and the client gets their product or completes their service, what is your next step? Just move on?
Once the deal is done, and funds are paid, most salespeople run for the hills. They subscribe to the old method of doing business, where a review is just an opportunity to be smeared with negative splash-back. Many salespeople just leave the yucky aftercare to the service provider arm of their business (if there is one).
Why would you waste this Golden Opportunity?
Your client or customer will never be happier than they are at the moment when they get what they paid for. And YOU are the one that gave it to them! This is the moment where you must ask them for a review.
And I’m not talking about the lazy, automated corporate email that comes in the standard X number of days to their inbox, only to be instantly deleted.
You must ask for the review personally (because you are a person, speaking to another person). This is where you can leverage the relationship you’ve just created! Make it easy for your satisfied customer to help you with this – provide direct links to a few spots, along with kind words and no pressure. You’re asking as a friend – and friends help friends out.
Your competition may have been in business two decades longer, and have ten-times the ad budget. But with a little bit of personality and winning service, you could have double the clout in a fraction of the time. Poof.
If you can, ask some recent clients or customers for a review (or two!). And if you have no one you’ve worked with recently, that’s OK. Get started on a strategy to never waste the Golden Opportunity to get a positive review again.
And if you’re a small business (say, with a shop front), a small investment to get the ball rolling on reviews is absolutely worth every penny. Maybe its a free coffee if they take a card with a few links on it. Or perhaps its a no-pressure discount of 5-10%, if they have the time to repay the kindness with a review later.
Anyone can spend money to generate leads, but buyers can see through that and truly only want the best for themselves. So they take reviews seriously, and are only going to be more educated and do more research in the future.
As long as your customer is satisfied (Rule #1), you should have no problem asking for the positive reviews you deserve. You’ll see it paid back in spades when your phone starts ringing!