Be careful not to solicit good customer reviews. For example, do not offer a prize or discounts for positive reviews. Soliciting good customer reviews will irreparably damage your reputation online and you will lose all credibility for even legitimate positive customer reviews. Here is a story about what NOT to do: I was chatting with my friend Cheryl a few weeks ago and she told me a horror story about this very topic. When Cheryl went to the store (we will keep this story anonymous for now), this company actually refused to provide her with services she paid for unless she posted an online review for them! Then afterwards they called her at home to again demand that she post an online review. Needless to say Cheryl is never going to that store again but she is nice and did not post a negative review either which this store should be thanking her for!
Here are a few suggestions on how to get those coveted customer reviews:
1. Educate your existing customers about how important online reviews are to you. Post a short blurb on your website or blog post. They may not understand how valuable this is to you and many customers would probably be more than happy to post something for you online to help you out.
2. Recognize that logging into a review site to post a review takes time by offering customers a small token of appreciation for their comments. Note I have said “comments” and not “positive review”. It is acceptable to reward customers for posting comments – good or bad. In fact having some not-so-great reviews will help boost the credibility of online reviews of your company as long as the majority of the reviews are positive. Just remember not to cross the line to be seen as soliciting good reviews.
3. Send an email or personally thank customers who have posted comments online – good and bad. People will appreciate the time you took to just say “Thanks”.
4. Print on your appointment cards or other business cards a few of the well known review sites as a reference for customers such as Google Places or Yelp.
5. Post review links on your website, again for your customer’s easy reference. You can email customers the link to this page when you ask them to post a comment.
Finally and most importantly, provide good service or products and value. Nothing boosts an online reputation like doing good work. Period.