Five star reviews for your business are fantastic, but four star reviews can be your cash cow. Read on to learn how to maximize your positive review volume.
You've heard the saying: no one is perfect. Well, no business is perfect either, and your customers know that.
That's why aiming to earn only 5-star reviews is shortsighted. By targeting only your happiest customers, you could be missing out on a valuable resource: namely, your mostly happy customers.
They're the people who have generally positive things to say about you but might have a few minor criticisms, or else they reserve 5-star reviews for only their very favorite businesses.
No smart business owner would ask a clearly unhappy customer to write a review. But if you write off the mostly satisfied customers and focus only on the people who might write rave reviews, you're leaving money on the table.
The Psychology of Online Reviews
Imagine you're in a new neighborhood and you're looking for a pizza place. You head to your favorite review site and find three nearby options.
- Place #1 has 5 reviews and a 5.0-star rating.
- Place #2 has 35 reviews and a 4.3 rating.
- Place #3 has 100 reviews and a 3.0 rating.
Which one would you choose? Most people choose place #2: it has enough reviews that you feel you can trust the consensus, and a pretty good overall rating. While the first place has a better rating and the third place has more reviews, the second place has a good mix of both, and its 4.3-star rating tells you it's a good bet.
That's how the typical customer thinks, anyway. Consider the findings of a recent survey. Respondents were asked: what minimum rating would a business would need to have for you to use them?
- 42 percent said a business should have a minimum rating of 3 out of 5 stars.
- 37 percent said a business should have a minimum rating of 4 out of 5 stars.
- 8 percent said a business should have 5 out of 5 stars.
That's good news for you. Only 8 percent of customers think businesses should have 5-star ratings. The majority of people are happy to use a business that has a 4-star or even a 3-star overall rating.
Many customers are savvy enough to know that some businesses use unethical means to earn reviews, like writing fake reviews themselves. To them, a business that has a perfect reputation online might actually seem a little suspicious, like it's too good to be true.
A business that has a few average or even negative reviews, however, seems real and trustworthy. And as long as the majority of reviews are positive in nature, that business looks like a good option.
How to Get Good Reviews
Ready to start earning those 4 and 5-star reviews? Here's how to do it:
First, ask your customers for feedback. You want to gauge each person's experience with your business. Ask questions at the end of your interaction, such as "How did we do today?" and "How would you rate your experience with us?"
When the person's feedback is positive - or even just mostly positive - ask for a review. Say something like, "Glad to hear it. It would be amazing if you wanted to write us a review on Google to let other customers know about us!"
Note that you should change up the sites that you name, which will ensure you're sending customers to a variety of review sites. That's important because 37 percent of customers go directly to a favorite review site when comparing businesses. Your goal is to get positive reviews posted regularly on all the major sites, so each customer can find them no matter what site he or she favors.
A Few Tips for Getting Good Reviews
Select a Mode of Communication
Customers want you to be able to interact with them in various ways and through several platforms. The world is centered online, and you'll earn more 5-star online reviews if you're just as adaptable.
Sending out SMS and email requests a few times until the customer takes action is usually the best way to go. This ensures that you're well-represented in the two areas where clients are most likely to search. You may even ask for reviews at the counter if you have a brick and mortar business.
Make it Simple for Customers to Get in Touch With You
Not only should you reach out to customers, but you should also make it simple for them to contact you if they need to. Have a publicly available email address, a phone number where customers can reach a live person, and social media profiles. Make sure your customers can quickly reach you with questions when making a purchase or with any other issues they’d like resolved.
Respond to Negative Feedback Immediately
Answer as soon as possible when you receive a bad review. Don't get defensive or retaliate in haste. Remember – class over crass! Try to come up with a solution or, at the very least, convey your company's side of the story straightforwardly and professionally.
Even if you can't immediately resolve the issue, at least react to their review or remark to let them know you're working on it. Follow up with your customers once you've rectified the problem.
Never Pay for Reviews
Customers prefer authenticity, so always keep your business dealings and customer interactions organic. Nobody wants to be taken advantage of, and potential customers will outright avoid you if they feel your reviews are phony.
Don't let yourself believe you can get away with it. It's difficult to mimic a true customer's genuine excitement, so it’s easy to identify whether a review is phony or not.
Give Incentives to Your Customers
Customer feedback could mean the world to you, but your customers have very little to gain from them, unless, of course, you offer something in return (discounts, cash back, gift vouchers, etc). While this may look like borderline paying for a review, it isn’t, and many businesses offer such incentives.
Just make sure that you offer the incentive regardless of whether the review is good or bad.
Of course, only use this method if you can afford to do so – no point bleeding out your business.
Use Sampling Programs for Your Products and Services
If you've launched a new product or service and you’re not seeing any new customer reviews, you may want to consider opening a product or service sampling program.
Reach out to micro-influencers, bloggers, and sampling communities that are willing and able to provide genuine feedback about your services. They can also create visually-appealing review videos that'll increase customer interest in your business.
Automate Your Review System
Talking to customers about their experiences and asking them to write reviews is a simple process, and it only takes about 30 seconds. Yet on busy days, you might not have 30 seconds to spare - and even when you ask customers to write reviews, they might forget your request and never writing anything after all.
So how do you go about making sure you get a large volume of generally positive reviews on a consistent, ongoing basis?
Let an automated system like ReputationStacker do the heavy lifting for you.
It works like this: after you enter a phone number or email address for your customers, the ReputationStacker system sends them a single-question survey. Customers who aren't satisfied are directed back to you, so you can determine how to address their concerns. Satisfied customers are directed to the review site of your choice, making it easy for them to write you the positive reviews you've earned.
Look beyond 5-star reviews to see the value in 4-star (and even a few 3-star) reviews.
Sure, ideally you'll give all your customers a 5-star experience, but the reality is that some people won't rate you as highly, and potential customers reading online reviews don't expect to see all raves.
Getting a mix of positive reviews can actually be better for your online reputation, since most customers have realistic expectations for businesses. Make sure that every customer with something good to say about you is reminded to write a review by using an automated system like ReputationStacker.