Last month I wrote about online reputation and touched upon reputation management. This month’s article will expand upon the topic, but once again in the interest of full disclosure, I do offer reputation online reputation management and online reputation restoration services. If you would like more information about reviews, click this link for a short Video.
As you well know, there are good reviews, and bad reviews. We all like the good reviews as good reviews build our reputation and reassure skeptical potential customers to at least give us a try. Bad reviews tend to scare potential customers away and hurt our business. This is why it’s vital to have a system in place to monitor your online reviews, notify you whenever a review is left, can solicit reviews (yes there IS a way to solicit reviews without violating terms of service), and can bury bad reviews where few (potential) customers will see them.
Let’s start with having a system. A reputation system can be as simple as having a form on your website that customers can click on and leave you feedback. Facebook offers reviews as a standard (and free) service as part of your corporate web page. Or you can be proactive and drive customers to your web page form or Facebook review page with an email message asking for customer feedback via a link in an email marketing message. Just be sure to make it easy for customers to find your feedback system, and promote it on a regular basis, such as monthly.
Of course, asking (or begging) for a review might put you in violation of some review sites, so let me show you an example of a right way to ask for and capture a review. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sending an email message (or text message) to your customer asking for a review, as long as you are driving traffic to an online property you control. Here is a screen shot of one of the email messages I send out on behalf of clients to their customers.
Notice that the email has a field that personalizes the message. Where the word Customer is encapsulated with Curly braces, the customer’s name will be inserted.
Notice in the body of the message it’s explaining that this drycleaner cares about its services provided to customers and that the cleaner would appreciate knowing how they are doing. Then the letter goes on to include a call to action asking the recipient to click the link to leave a review.
Now one of the all-important parts, when the customer clicks the link on the email message, they are taken directly to page and a form that the cleaner controls and monitors.
It’s a pretty simple form, isn’t it? No need to be overly complicated, and just so you know, this form also happens to be mobile friendly so customers can use it on their mobile devices. With more and more folks using mobile devices for everything, it’s vital that your forms be mobile friendly!
Let’s carry on. The customer fills in the form, and clicks submit.
Pay close attention now, as this is where proper system design can give your reviews an incredible amount of leverage, and/or prevent a bad review from getting out and ruining your reputation.
Did you notice the five stars in the form above? Well, they are there for two reasons.
1) The customer can give us a rating of 1 to 5, with one being the lowest score (a bad rating), and five being the best score (a high rating).
2) We have built in some intelligent programming into the system where IF a customer selects a 3 star or less rating, the system will automatically capture the form data as given by the customer, and email it directly to you or whomever you designate to deal with unsatisfied customers. This enables you to be aware that you have a service or quality issue that needs to be addressed.
There is some significant psychology at work here. Once an upset customer has filled in the form, spilled their guts, and let you know what is wrong in 1,000 words (more or less); the customer usually feels better. I know from the years that I worked my front counter in my own plant, once a customer has let it all out, they become more relaxed. It’s like getting it out of their system is therapy, and the odds of an upset customer carrying onto Yelp, Google Reviews, or anywhere else to type their gripes out all over again is highly unlikely. This is why once a three star or less rating is given and the form is filled in, the submit button is pressed, a simple ‘thank you for your comments, we will be addressing your concerns and be in contact shortly’ screen is displayed. The bad news is captured, sent to you (or your staff), and you can now deal with the problem, and the bad news should be relatively contained saving your reputation from being trashed and sullied across the internet.
But that’s not all.
If the customer fills in a FOUR star or higher review, we again deploy some intelligent psychological design. The customer fills out the form, but on a good review, the system does something different. Pay close attention again as this is where you can avoid violating terms of service on many a review website, and give good news leverage that will bury accumulated bad news (and restore your reputation). Take a look at the screen shot below.
Notice what is done here?
First off, the system saves a customer from having to retype their review in its entirety on another review website. We have made it insanely simply to just copy and paste everything the customer typed. And then to make it even easier for customers, we’ve added LINKS directly to your review listing on other review websites. The system will paste the copied review on the linked review site(s) and the customer simply has to click submit, and your good news is added to Yelp, Facebook Reviews, or Google Reviews. Easy peasy!
So how does this NOT violate terms of service, did you not just ask for a review? Well, no. You asked for a review on YOUR own system and page. This system has enabled your customer to copy and paste their words on the other review systems. It’s splitting hairs to some degree, but it’s splitting hairs that DOESN’T violate terms of service, and that makes all the difference.
So why is it so vital to get your reviews on other review systems anyway? Well, simply capturing reviews that you repost on your website or store on a subscription as service reputation service certainly can be helpful, but not entirely useful.
Reposting reviews you have captured on your website looks nice, but how much traffic does your website really get? Take a look at your website’s traffic report. How many hits does your home page get? Now compare that to your reviews and testimonials page, how many of your website visitors are drilling down to the testimonial page? Probably darn few.
You need to get your reviews out there. As I mentioned in my previous article, Google is scrapping reviews from their own and other online review systems and including them in search results. It’s highly unlikely the reviews you’ve reposted on your web page are going to be picked up by Google and included in search results. But it is VERY likely that reviews that your customers have carried onto other systems like Yelp and Google WILL be picked up and included in search results.
And, if your review system is suppressing bad reviews, and amplifying good reviews, that good news is going to be picked up and spread across the Internet. And the more good news is spread; the old bad news gets pushed off of page one and two of search results.
Why is it so important that the old bad news gets pushed off of page one and two of search results? Well, it’s like this, most folks tend to read search results like they read a newspaper or magazine, if nothing catches a reader’s attention in the first two pages, its highly unlikely the reader will read page three, four, or five. So, getting bad news pushed to page three, four or five means it’s not likely to be read, let alone seen.
The last reason why it’s so important that reviews be seen on more than one platform is again related to human nature. We are not exactly monogamous by nature, when a person sees reviews across multiple review sites, those reviews get much more credibility. Congregating many reviews on just one system tends to create the impression that someone is stacking the deck. When you see far too much good news in just one place, people tend to get suspicious that someone might be gaming or exploiting a system. It’s simply too difficult for one person to fool multiple systems. Thus, having reviews across a variety of systems makes your reviews much more credible. Again, psychology at work.
Lastly, you do need to work your review system on a regular basis. Simply creating the system and having it sit on your website waiting for a customer to stumble upon it and leave a review is not a good strategy. You do need to be proactive, reaching out to old and new customers asking them to submit a review. I would not ask the same current customers over and over to place a review, but I would do periodical follow ups at least twice a year simply asking, How we doing? I would hit up every new customer within thirty days of them trying you out for the first time. And ask them, How was your first visit? And I definitely would use reviews and testimonials in any advertising I could, as it does calm skeptical customers and gives them confidence to try you out because ‘other folks have had good experiences.’ We are social animals, so use that psychological trait to your advantage.