This is a tough time to be in business. Not because of the global economy. I’m talking about the Internet.
Sure the Internet does all kinds of wonderful things for anyone with something to sell. But it allows every customer to become a reviewer.
It’s incredibly easy for a disgruntled customer to give you some bad press.
So what are you going to do?
Start encouraging your customers to write reviews about your business.
Reach out to them during checkout, after the purchase, in e-mail newsletters, in company mailings and at other touch points. Teach them how to leave reviews and direct them to the appropriate sites. Don’t be heavy-handed about it, but do let customers know how important those reviews are to your business. Reviews are the links of local. You need to start figuring out how you’re going to solicit reviews from customers in a way that won’t turn them off.
Then take it a step further. Educate your customers. Because I bet many don’t know a lot about reviews. So start with your blog and your e-mail newsletter.
Educate customers about what is available
There are so many places for your customers to place reviews. Point them to these places:
There’s something worth emphasizing about Foursquare. Not only is it worth encouraging customers to check in, but ask them to leave tips in Foursquare. When other Foursquare users are in the area, they can see what customers have to say about your business.
Show them what other customers write
This is a little bit of the chicken vs. egg dilemma. But if you do have some good reviews, show them off.
- Quote them on your web site
- Print them and display in your business or office
- Quote them on a Facebook page
This acts a collection of referrals and as examples for other customers. Hopefully it will inspire them once they see that other people do it. (It’s that first follower thing)
Encourage and show reviews of other businesses
It’s a fine line between being helpful and pushy when asking customers to review your business. How do you avoid looking like a narcissist?
Encourage customers to review other businesses. Who should you choose?
- Members of your MasterMind or BNI group
- Businesses you buy from
- Anyone in your social networks
So start by writing these reviews yourself. Use your writing as an example.
This has the obvious benefit of being helpful to another business and shows you’re willing to pay it forward. By the way, writing reviews is a good way to create more content that links back to your business.
Customer reviews can be some of the most powerful content in your marketing campaigns. It’s tricky because you don’t have control over it. But by being thoughtful and helpful you can encourage good reviews that lessen the impact of bad reviews.