Reviews and testimonials are often overlooked by many businesses. A quick search on Google for cleaners can show me 10 different listings. Many of these listings don’t have any reviews. But a few do.
Who do you think I am going to do business with first? The unknowns who have no reviews, or the 5-star cleaners with reviews that say things like: “They saved my priceless sweater”. Most people are going to choose the 5-star cleaners. They have proof they do a good job.
Humans are driving by a desire to follow a leader. When given the choice to try something new by ourselves or to follow the beaten path, most people choose the beaten path. It saves us the energy of having to find out for ourselves. It also saves us from the potential risks.
Having reviews can help your business stand apart from the crowd. In the sea of listings, reviews give you an instant leg up on every other business. And the more the merrier. More reviews help to reinforce the proof. It is harder to fake 20 reviews, but it could be easy to fake one.
A review can give me an idea of your product or service before I even try it. If the review describes your process, or how the product worked for someone it may help me decide to buy. They can also be used as a filtering tool. If the reviewer describes a product that does x y and z, but I need one that is similar but does a b and c then I will move on.
Now I know what you are thinking, ‘Hey, I just lost that sale’. But the truth is 110% the opposite. You saved yourself from a bad sale. Don’t you want all your customers to be happy with their purchase? What about your return policy? Do you want to have the costs involved in doing a return? By skipping that sale, you may have just saved yourself a ton of work.
Reviews and testimonials are not just for your Google listing. You can add reviews on your website itself and in your marketing materials. When people arrive at your website, they may not have found you through a listing that showed your reviews. It is entirely possible they have never seen any reviews of your business.
By adding reviews to the website, you are helping to enforce the social proof that you have built on other sites. The same goes for your marketing materials. Adding a few well-written reviews from your clients could be the very thing that pushes you over everyone else. A little proof can go a long way.
Getting good reviews
Let’s face it, people are busy. Most people will not remember, or flat out do not have the time to write a review. But this can be easily overcome with some advance work on your part.
Put together a page of questions. Ask detailed questions about how the product or service helped the client. Use questions that will give you more than just a yes or no answer. Try to keep the form short and to the point. Remember, they don’t have a lot of time to give you. You want to give your questionnaire the best chance of being completed.
Once you get the questionnaire back, take their answer and compile the review. This is not the case of filtering the bad. You need to use their words, tone, and inflections (and sometimes even spelling and grammar errors). Remember they wrote this review. You are just compiling their words together.
Once you create the review, now you need to send it back to them for review. Have them read it over and sign off on it. Make sure they agree that the review states everything they wanted to say, and is still how they feel. If they sign off, you can either have them post it on places like Google or get them to send you a photo so you can use it in your materials.
Some people do not like to include a photo. While it does a stronger sense of proof (real people rather than talking heads) your review can survive without it. And places like Google do not normally attach a photo anyhow.
Don’t wait for them to come
Make sure to give your questions to those clients you enjoyed working with. Remember the example from above. We filtered our clients by the reviews. You can attract clients you enjoy working with by having reviews from those that you previously enjoyed.
You have to be proactive in asking. 90% of clients won’t just jump online and write a review. And it seems a good chunk of those that do go out of their way to write a review are the ones you don’t want. Make sure you are asking the right people.
Respond to reviews
Many places allow you to respond to the reviews that you get. Make sure you take the opportunity to respond. Let the client know how much you enjoyed working with them. Thank them for the review.
Don’t just respond to the good reviews. Address the bad reviews as well. Make sure you still say thank you and let them know you will be in touch (if possible) to address their concerns. This shows others that while everyone has not had a perfect experience, you care about your customers and want to help make the situation better. Never respond in anger, or rudely no matter what the tone of the review.
Deal with problems quickly
Remember how I said people who are unhappy will leave a review faster? It is always better to head off bad reviews or problems before they happen. Once it is out there it is very hard to take it back. If a job is going bad, start doing damage control.
Make sure you communicate well. Be proactive in your communication. One of the biggest things that can cause people to write a negative review is when they feel they are being ignored. Especially after they have spent money with you.
Reviews are an awesome tool to help you win new business. And they are pretty easy to get with a little pre-planning. Take the time to plan your review process and determine how you can use them in your marketing. Then get out there and start asking previous clients for new reviews.