You just got to get out there and actively manage the reviews and ratings online for your business, no matter what your line of business. Need persuading? Some data points:

  • A survey by BrightLocal of 2,300 local shoppers found that 92% read online business reviews and the star rating is the #1 factor used to judge a business.
  • In the 2015 Moz survey of search-engine consultants, reviews were one of the top eight factors they think Google uses to rank the sites of local businesses.

Of course, by “manage” reviews, we mean “get good reviews and lots of stars”.

Or, to put it another way “identify happy customers and persuade them to rate and review, while still keeping them happy.” So follow these steps…

Step 1: Find Your (Good) Reviewers

Right after service or a sale, ask customers for feedback in person, by email or by a follow-up phone call. For instance, you might ask:

  • Were they pleased with the overall experience?
  • What in particular did they like about the experience?
  • What benefit did they receive?

Specifics make reviews believable, so you’re priming the customer to think about what to write in a compelling review.

If you’re not dealing with a satisfied customer, listen carefully to the complaint and attempt to deal with it right away.  Of course, you’re not going to solicit a review–consider yourself lucky that you had a chance to head off negative online comments.

If your review candidate expresses a mixed opinion, play it by ear. You don’t necessarily want to discourage a mixed review: the search engines and review sites are thought to watch for “diversity” of opinion. Too much happy talk and they may consider you a spammer and delete reviews.

Having identified your potential reviews buddies, move them along to Step 2…

Alternative reviews buddies: Anyone who posts a compliment on Facebook or other social media. On to Step 2, too, for them, right away.

 Step 2: Ask for the Review

You followed Step 1, so you are about to ask the customers for the review while they are still at the peak of happiness about their recent experience with your business. But tread carefully. You don’t want to spoil the mood by pushing.

  • Ask if they ever write reviews, or would they consider it now
  • Tell them it would be a big favor
  • Tell them it would mean a lot to you and your business
  • Tell them you are looking forward to reading their reviews

Step 3:  Tell Them Where to Go

Politely suggest that they

  • Go to Google, and enter “write a review for [your business name] in [your town]” in the search box
  • Click on any of the many review sites that will pop up in the center, and enter a review
  • On the box about the business that Google displays on the right, click “write a review” and at least enter a star rating. Or write another, different review on Google.

For the social media users who posted the compliments, suggest they enter a review on your Facebook page.  

Step 4:  Thank Them

  • As quickly as possible, thank them by phone, email or handwritten note.
  • Thank them by replying on the site where they left the review.

Step Never:  Don’t Do These

  • Offer a gift coupon or any other inducement before or after the review. Review sites forbid it.
  • Pay a service that posts fake reviews. This can happen: NY Attorney General Fines 4 Companies for Paid Reviews.
  • Mass mail your customer list asking for reviews. Go back to Step 1: You want to approach customers just after a happy experience. Also, if search engines see a large number of reviews posted in a short time frame, they could tag them as spam and delete them.
  • Set up a computer at your place of business and ask for a review there. Search engines can spot that, too, and delete.

Wondering how to answer reviews (good and bad)? We have an extensive guide for you, including suggested language for many different business types. Download ‘How to Reply to Reviews: A Reference Guide from Dex Media’.