One of the hardest things to do, especially when your business is just starting out, is to build your online credibility. These days, people seem to only speak up when they are unhappy, so the only time managers get called over, or reviews get written is when someone has a complaint. Getting your happy clients to give you a positive online review can seem overwhelming, especially in light of the rules most review sites have.
Recently, a company was asking their clients to post positive reviews in exchange for a discount on their next visit. This request was posted in a community forum, so not only were they offering discounts to existing customers who were coming back, they were asking for people who had never before visited them to write something in exchange for a “kickback” on their first visit. Not only is this against the terms of service of most (if not all) review websites, it also kills the credibility of ALL your reviews, since everyone in the community knows you’re handing out bribes. That makes even the legitimate reviews suspicious to people looking for information on your company.
At the same time, there are “services” out there that offer to get you good reviews… for a price. Never, ever pay anyone for Google, Facebook or even Yelp reviews. The internet is these companies’ business, so they can tell when a slew of reviews are coming in suspiciously, and in most cases they will hide the offending comments, and most likely flag them for deletion. Paid reviews are ALWAYS a Terms of Service violation, and if it happens enough, you might even lose existing, legitimate reviews.
As frustrating as it may seem, your reviews have to happen organically. It may seem difficult, but you have to encourage your happy clients to leave reviews without any promise of benefit to them. And while all of them may not do it, the ones who do will leave heartfelt, honest opinions of you and what you do. So encourage them. As they are getting ready to leave, remind them. Mention reviews on the bottom of their receipt. ALWAYS put a link to your review site on your website, on social media, and even in the footer of your email blasts or newsletter.
If you’re providing a great service, people will notice, and they will tell their friends. Hopefully, they’ll also take a few moments to help you grow your reviews organically.