In today’s post, I’m going to be talking to you a little bit about client reviews, how to ask for them and how to manage them.
Last week, I sent out an email to a number of clients and I asked them “what’s the biggest struggles you’re having right now? What can I help you with? What do you need help getting unstuck with?”
I received a slew of replies with a list of things that I could create some content around to help people just like you (Yup, you. The person reading this post.).
And one of them was actually around improving Google reviews. A client wrote me an email that simply stated “improving Google reviews, especially for either reviews that are super old and/or left for the wrong company, or someone that isn’t actually a customer”.
In a totally separate conversation with a different client a few days later, this came up again. In this conversation, the client also mentioned that they’re having difficulty with Google reviews, and they felt frustrated because they would finish a job, ask the customer to leave them a Google review, and the customer would say “yes, I’m happy with the work, I’ll leave your review”. But a few weeks go by, and they haven’t seen any reviews on Google.
This happens all the time, many find it very frustrating, as if you’re being lied too, but truthfully, if something creates extra work for a person with little to no reward, it’s probably not #1 on the priority list. Don’t be offended, it’s just how our little human brains function. If something is going to take effort, we tend to put it off to another time (and eventually forget about it).
In the second conversation, my client wasn’t really sure how to get people to start using reviews. So they asked us what we thought of giving customers an incentive to leave a review (incentive being a discount or free product).
To answer that question, my thoughts are (and some people may not agree):
#1 – I am not going to give you an incentive to leave me a review.
That’s it, that’s my thought. You probably want me to explain, right? Okay.
I am not going to provide you with an incentive to leave me a review, because I, as a business owner, want that review to be as honest as possible.
By giving you an incentive, you are going to feel like you have to give me a good review, even if you may have had a bad experience. You’re probably going to think that a good review is the only way that you will receive whatever incentive or prize I have promised you in exchange for that review.
I am against it 100%. I don’t think it’s the right way to get reviews. I want people to leave me good reviews because I have done good work.
And if they leave me a bad review, I am not going to be upset, I am going to thank them.
Why would I thank someone for leaving me a bad reviews? Because now I know where my company needs to improve!
So rule number one in this post is going to be “don’t provide incentives for reviews”. Customers should be leaving reviews because they are happy. Plain and simple. Do good work, and if you don’t, learn how to make things better and improve so that you can do good work!
Touching on “Don’t be afraid of bad reviews”, let’s get to rule number two, which is actually:
#2 – Don’t be afraid of bad reviews!
A lot of business owners will receive a bad review and they will automatically reach out to me and ask “how do I bury this review? Someone left me a bad review, can I get other customers to leave a whole bunch of reviews to bury it? Or is there a way I can delete it off my page?”
And my answer is always “Don’t be afraid and don’t bury bad reviews”. The reason we don’t want to be afraid or bury those bad reviews is because – As a business owner, you should be learning from that review.
If someone gave you a bad review, that means that they have had a bad experience while using your service or product. So why would you shy away from that? Use it to learn! Respond to it like a professional, you are a business owner.
Other people will see that you take bad reviews seriously and that you are actively working to change that outcome for the customer so they receive better service in the future. Truthfully, by responding professionally to bad reviews and doing our best to improve, it is going to make you look like a better business, and a better business owner, to both old and new customers. It shows you actually care about the service that your customers are receiving from your business.
So number two, don’t be afraid of bad reviews.
Now, you might be asking “how do we respond to bad reviews?”
Well, we always respond in a very professional manner. The first thing you are going to do is hit that reply button, and you’re going to say to the person “I am truly sorry that you had a bad experience”.
Seriously, apologize for how they are feeling! They took the time to let you know they left your business feeling bad. YOUR business made them feel that way.. so apologize!
It’s not an attack on your character, they’re simply expressing how they felt after using your product or service.
If their name is listed at the top or bottom of the review, then make sure to address them by their name.
“Hi Peter. I am truly sorry that you have had a bad experience.”
When you address someone by name, they will feel like you are paying attention to their concerns and that you honestly care about them, because you have taken the time out of your day to learn their name.
“Hey Peter, I’m truly sorry that you had a bad experience. I would love to know what we can do to make it right. Please email or call me at 555-5555 and we can discuss how we can make it right and leave you feeling like a five star customer next time.”
Always, always, always (I can’t stress this enough), ALWAYS, take it off line. Don’t air your dirty laundry for the world to see. Don’t say “Hey Paul. I looked into this and apparent YOU yelled at my cashier, and you were a horrible customer. So we don’t welcome you back here.”.
For goodness sake! Don’t do any of that! It looks childish!
It will make you look like a horrible business owner to all the other people that see this reply and WERE thinking about using your business. People WILL read Google reviews before deciding to do business with you. So you want to make sure that you remain professional. Take it off line and do your best to make sure that that customer leaves happy, because happy customers refer more people to your business. And referrals are the lifeline of almost every business out there.
So number two, do not be afraid of bad reviews, and respond to them courteously and professionally.
#3 – don’t be afraid to follow up.
If you have asked a customer or a client to leave you a review and a few weeks have gone by but they haven’t followed through and left you that review yet… follow up. Absolutely follow up.
So here is the thing about customers, they have lives, they’re busy. I know right? I’m talking crazy talk here.
If they said they’re going to leave you a review and you’ve left the job but haven’t left them with an easy way to tackle this task, they’ve probably moved on to something else and forgotten about it.
They’ve either forgotten about it, or you’ve made it super difficult for them to leave your review. So don’t be afraid to follow up. You can do it through email or by phone, although I would suggest sending an email as people don’t like to be bugged at home on the phone.
As an example of this, you could send them something along the lines of:
“Hey, we really enjoyed working with you on X. Just wondering if you wouldn’t mind telling us about your experience with us. Let us know honestly how it was to work with us.”
And then follow that up with three or four specific questions about the service or product that you provided to your customer in the same email.
If you’re a landscaper, an example of this could be:
“Hey Paul, we really enjoyed working on your lawn revitalization project! Would you mind leaving us an honest review or telling us what it was like working with us? Were the cedar trees the size you hope they would be? Did the grass look greener after we weeded and aerated? Did our project manager pop by to explain everything that was on the invoice and show you the work that was done? How did your lawn look before and after?”
Ask them specific questions around what you think other potential customers would be interested in reading in order to help make the decision to do business with you.
I myself being in design, strategy and marketing in the digital industry industry have would ask questions like:
- How was the experience going from start to end of the project?
- Was our communication good?
- Did our customer service exceed your expectations?
- Did you see results from the work that we did from for you?
- Did you experience any growth?
- Were you happy with the end product?
- Would you be willing to share your experience with others?
I would ask specific questions about the service or product that I have delivered. And then when I receive those responses back, I would reply with: “Hey Mary, thanks for answering these questions, your responses were incredibly insightful. Do you mind if we use this in a testimonial? Also, would you mind putting these answers in Google Review? I’ve included a direct link below to make it super easy for you”.
I would then give them a direct link to my Google review page and ask them to copy and paste their response into Google.
Which brings us to #4 – Make it as easy as possible.
Now client #2 from above had mentioned to me that he had been asking his customers to leave him reviews and a few weeks have gone by and none of them have left reviews. This is a perfect example of that follow up and making it as easy as possible.
So he has said, “Would you mind leaving me a review?”. And his customer has said yes. He’s gone on to his next job, and then that is the end of it. The review never happened and he doesn’t know what to do next. He’s left frustrated because reviews make a difference in search engine rankings and getting new customers.
The problem with this is by asking for a review, but not leaving the customer with an easy to execute plan (a business card with a simple to enter link, and email with a clickable link), he has now created extra work for his customer. And if you want someone to do anything at all, you need to make it as easy as possible.
It is in our nature as human beings to find ways to make things easy, to find ways to make work easy. And if it becomes too difficult or requires too many brain cells, we’ll find an excuse not to do it, or to put it off until later and in the process either forget about it or check out.
It’s just our nature, as human beings, as being a very intelligent species. We want to do as little work as possible and yet get a fantastic, huge outcome. That’s why “Get Rich Quick” schemes exist, that is why so many people get duped into parting with their hard earned money. Most people when faced with the choice, will choose the path most travelled, not the lesser travelled path.
So when you’re asking your customers to leave your review, make it as easy as possible. Make it so there is no way that their brain can create excuses to put it off until later.
Once you’ve watch the (very) short section of my video showing you where to find your link, you’re going to copy your own link and send it to customers when you ask them to leave your review.
If clicking the link above was too difficult, here’s a step by step checklist with images (see – options!).
In these two images, we’re on my Google Desktop and you can see in the top right hand corner the MV logo. That means I am logged into Google. When I’m logged in, I now see these nine little squares. If I click on these squares, you can see the Google My Business logo here.
Now, if you have not set up a Google My Business account for your business, you’re going to want to do that, because this is how you’re going to get Google reviews. Here’s an article from Bright Local walking you through how to accomplish this.
PRO TIP: People looking for your product or service are going to see your business, they’re going to click on the Google My Business section, and they’re going to read the reviews of past clients to see if you’re somebody they want to do business with.
PRO TIP #2: Having those reviews will also increase your search engine rankings. How? The more positive reviews you have, the bigger the chance you’ll start showing up higher in the search engine for your product or service. Google likes to show relevant information people will find helpful that is being recommended by other people.
You want that social proof, you want people leaving you good reviews, and you want it showing up on your Google review page.
The dashboard you’re seeing in the image to the left is of our sister company Tradies, they create lead generating websites and growth specifically for the trade industry. Check them out here: www.tradies.ca.
We’ll use the Tradies account to show you were to find the link, and in a separate post or video, I will go through setting up a Google My Business Page. But for today, we’re just looking at the reviews.
If you have Google My Business already set up, then you may have seen this, but not noticed it. Scroll down until you see the get my first review section shown in the image. And if you already have reviews, this is probably going to say something like “get more reviews”. Now click on the share review form button. And then we’re going to click “share via email” This will open up your email browser and automatically add the link to the message area.
In our screenshot to the left, it shows “Tradies would love your feedback, please re-post a review to our profile”.
So we’re just going to copy the link shown under the message and leave everything else behind. You can now test this out in your internet browser by pasting it into the address bar and hitting enter.
Once you do this, it will take you to the your business page within Google and it will automatically open a pop up where you can leave a review. You can add pictures, you can share details of your experience. And you can give it a star rating and then hit post.
The link that we just gathered by following the steps above is the link that we’re going to send to our customers when we send that follow up email.
“Hey, Peter, we really enjoyed working with you. Now that you’ve answered those questions would it be okay if I use this as a testimonial in my marketing material? Oh, by the way, would you also mind leaving this as a Google review on our Google My Business Page, here is the direct link. I’ve made it super easy for you, all you’ll need to do is click on the link then copy and paste your answers from our previous email (below) into the post box. Don’t forget to hit post when you’re done!”
You’ve now given them a few easy steps in an order that makes it super easy for them to leave their response on your Google review page. And you’ve given them the direct link to do it.
You’ve cut out all of the work surrounding having to go to Google, look up your website, click on the review button, write a review. Etc.
You have now made this as easy as possible, so easy that even a child could follow these steps. And you’ve also given them a suggestion of what they should be pasting into the Google review form. Now they don’t even have to figure out what to write!
#5 – Guide your customers if they’re not sure what to say
Now if they if you’re not comfortable asking them a bunch of questions, but you’ve had a conversation with them after the job was done and they’ve told you they were happy with the service, write down what they’ve told you as soon as you can. If you don’t have a pen, pull out your phone and type it out in a message, and if you don’t have time to type it out, turn on your voice app and tell your phone what they just said.
When you’re reaching out for that review, you can now send them an email and say:
“Hey, Paul, last time we talked, you mentioned you were going to leave a Google review. You probably haven’t had time yet. Here is a direct link to the post page. When we talked after the job, you mentioned, you enjoyed working with us because we were fast and friendly and your your garden looked fantastic. You liked that when we were done, our crew cleaned everything up and our project manager took you around the yard afterwards to show you the work. Would you mind mentioning this in the review?”
You’ve now used their own words back to them, AND you have written the review for them by using their own words. Again, making it super easy. Now they don’t need to think up what to say, because you have helped them with that. And you’re getting a stellar review 😉
The only thing your client needs to do, is click the link then copy and paste their own words, which you have given back to them, into that Google review box.
If you’re not sure if the customer was happy and you ask for a review, be sure to mentioned that you would like them to give you honest feedback.
And a lot of people are a little bit hesitant to give honest feedback if they’ve had a bad experience because it is in human nature not to want to be confrontational, but by assuring our customers that we want honest feedback so we can improve our service, and that we care about wanting to be a better company so we can serve our clients better, it will be another reason for them to keep in contact with you in the future!
Again, now you are showing that you actually DO care what people think about your service, and you want to know how you can improve and serve your clients better.
On the other hand, if you honestly don’t care what your customers have to say, then there’s really no point in asking for reviews at all. But the majority of business owners actually want to improve their services.
So we’ve touched on responding to bad reviews, however, let’s touch on responding to the good or the neutral reviews that we’ve received. And in doing so I will answer that last question from this email of “improving Google reviews, especially for either reviews of super old and or left for the wrong company or someone isn’t actually a customer.”
#6 – Respond to ALL reviews (almost)
It’s incredibly important to be professional when responding to bad reviews. However, we don’t just want to respond to bad reviews, we want to respond to ALL reviews that have something to say.
If it’s just a star rating, and the customer hasn’t left any content, I wouldn’t feel the need to actually respond unless it’s a one star rating. And then I would respond and say something similar to “Hey X, can you please get in contact with us? Let us know what how we could have provided a better experience for you as we’d like to improve.”
If it’s something like a three or a four star rating, I might respond and say, “Hey Mary, thank you for leaving us a review, what could we have done differently to get that extra star? Please give us a call or contact us via email at [email] to talk about what we can improve on or do differently to give you a stellar experience next time.”
Again, take that offline, if it is a five star review, and there is no comment left, there is no need to reply or leave a comment on it. I’m looking for those three, four and five star reviews where people have actually left a comment, I want to respond to those.
When responding, you always want to thank your customer for leaving your review, whether it is bad or neutral or good, thank them, because they have taken time out of their day to help you as a business, build a level of authority, and the level of trust with other customers who are thinking about doing business with you.
It’s all about building trust with your brand. So start by thanking them.
If someone has left a review for the wrong company, then just say “thank you for leaving the this review. I think you may have gotten us mixed up with another company, this is what our company does” and just explain who you are and why you think they may have left a wrong review. Or if you have the time, point them to the right company. It’s a little bit of extra work, but people will remember that you went out of your way to help them.
Now if it’s someone that isn’t an actual customer..
I have had this happen to my company in the past, where someone left us a very negative review. It was someone we had never done business with before. Rather than trying to bury the review or delete it, what I did was take the time to respond to the person and let them know that they had actually gotten the wrong company.
That as a company who works with a small number of clients at one time. I’ve made it a point to always remember every client we have ever worked with. We’ve been around for 10 years and we want to make sure we give our customers stellar service, which also includes remembering who they were, their company and what we worked on, even if it was 10 years ago.
Anyways, I had never done business with this person, and I have no record of them. However, I made sure to let them know we had not worked with them in the past, but would be more than happy to get on a call or have them come by the office and see how we actually do business.
Now, they never did respond to my invitation. And that invitation remains open to this day, but I 100% would have met with that person to find out why they had mixed our company up with someone else and left a bad review.
I would have shown them that we have nothing to hide, and how we do business – customer satisfaction first.
Once again, it all comes down to responding professionally. Explaining you “think they might have mistaken your business with another company. Perhaps you’d like to get on a call and chat. And we can, we can see what the issue is and why you might have thought it was us.”
That is pretty much it. So again, those six points were:
- Don’t give incentives for reviews. That is number one, we want honest reviews, we do not want to coax people into thinking they have to give us a good review. We want people to be honest, because this helps us improve as a business.
- Number two, don’t be afraid of bad reviews. If you have a bad review, respond to them in a respectful and professional manner. Learn how to improve from that you got into business to serve others. So serve them the best way that you can.
- Number three, don’t be afraid to follow up with a customer if they said they would leave you a review and few weeks has gone by without a review in place yet. They’ve probably gotten busy. So make it is easy as possible for them.
- Number four. Make it super easy for the customer to leave you that review!!
- Number five, guide your customer if they’re not quite sure what to say. Or, if you have a specific way you would like people to respond to you then just ask them a few questions, guide them to a proper review. It could all come down to someone just doesn’t know what to say once they get on that Google review form. So help them out help them with it. Remind them of the service you provided, reminded them of things they said to you, and guide them in that review.
- And number six is respond to those reviews, whether they’re good or bad. Take the time to thank your customer. Take the time to respond to those reviews and your business will grow.
Having that trust factor, having those reviews, will improve your search rankings. It will improve client trust in your service or product, and your business will grow.
Let us know in the comments if you’ve found this article helpful! Cheers!