How To Get Your Clients To Write Online Reviews | A David Creation

Posted by | November 11, 2010 | Cool Software, Marketing Advice | 10 Comments

Update to this post (2/6/2012)

Ratepoint is no longer in business. Feel free to read over the article anyways, but no need to hunt for Ratepoint. They got bought out by a competitor and totally changed their services. 

In recent years, another benefit of the technological revolution has been online customer reviews.  Whether they are buying a tractor, a trundle bed, or a toothbrush, people will check out customer reviews on any number of websites.   Today, the majority of homeowners will research your company by searching for reviews by your previous customers before calling to set up an appointment.

This trend was started several years ago by Amazon.com, as well as local restaurants in various locations.  Soon, it spread to sites like Yelp, Google, Angie´s list, Wal-Mart.com, and the BBB online reports.  When a customer has an experience, good or bad, they can go to any number of sites to describe their satisfaction or anger about a product or service.  Now some of the major search engines are beginning to give first place rankings to the companies with the most reviews.

Obviously, this means you want reviews—good ones, and lots of them!  The problem is that your satisfied customers are contentedly quiet, and the ones that make online noise are usually those who are dissatisfied or have a chip on their shoulder.  Also, many of the clients of the companies I work with are busy, wealthy homeowners who have never heard of Google Reviews or Yelp.  They might read some reviews on these sites before hiring a contractor, but afterwards they don´t remember the sites they used.

So what can we do to get our satisfied customers to leave excellent reports about us? Generic emails asking them to write a review won´t work.  A service company has to get a little more creative and personal.  As you conclude a job, talk to the customer by phone or in person and ask them to write a review for you: “Can you do me a favor…” or “Can you help me out with something?”  Briefly explain how it helps you to keep down advertising costs and assists other homeowners in finding you online.  Give them a quick overview of how long it takes and what they need to do.  If they seem willing, then send them an email with detailed instructions, preferably with screenshots.

Besides making it personal, you need to make it easy.  Many customers won’t write a review because they have to register for an account or follow complicated instructions.  To make it easy, I´ve started using a program called Ratepoint.  This is an independent online review program that makes everything a piece of cake, and doesn´t require customers to create an account.  A company can install certain widgets or graphics on their site that will encourage visitors to read recent ratings and testimonials.  It´s like having your own Amazon.com review system right on your site.  Because it is 3rd party, it also has many Search Engine benefits.  For example, Google can discover the reviews and post them on Google Places.  Ratepoint has also made it even easier for customers to share their thoughts on other major review sites: after writing a review (again, without needing an account), customers are invited to share their thoughts further on other major websites.

Another key benefit to Ratepoint is that it can handle your email marketing and any surveys you want to conduct.  It can replace your current email system completely.  I’ve used it for a few clients and I do like it.  However, my favorite email program continues to be MailChimp.  It is just really slick and easy to use.

So remember, personally invite your satisfied clients to write reviews, and tell them how.  Make it easy for them.  Give Ratepoint a try:  Here is a sample of how it looks on a website: Brennan’s Custom Painting

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.

10 Comments

  • I followed David’s suggestion and tried out Rate Point. After signing up online, I got a follow up call from one of there people in the home office in Massachusetts walking me through all the features of the service. He then quickly got me to another person in tech support to get the “Feedback” button onto my website. It was absolutely fantastic service. They make it about as easy as it can be.

  • David says:

    Hey Barry. Thanks for commenting on your experience with RatePoint! They have been one of the most responsive companies to deal with so far for email marketing and online reviews. I didn’t know you were thinking about it too. Keep me posted on getting clients to write reviews! 🙂

  • michael reznor says:

    Problem—I went to Brennan’s Custom Painting, and I don’t see any testimonials from RatePoint (I do see a link to AngiesList). There is a section called “Testimonials”–but i don’t think that these came from RatePoint.

    Separately, customer’s full real names and locations should NEVER be published on online testimonials or reviews. That’s one surefire way to really upset your happiest customers! I googled several of the people who provided testimonials on the painting company you mentioned, and was able to find out WAY too much info about them! About the max you should do is “SusanK, Wenonah”. Full names are much more credible, but don’t do it!!!!

    • David says:

      Thanks for the comment, Michael. I agree to not use Full Names unless a customer fully gives you that permission. I’ll let Brennan know about that, but I don’t have control over his site/testimonials. He does have the RatePoint link on his home page. I see it. Bottom Right Hand Corner.

      But yes…good point on customer privacy! I have it on my site but received their permission! 🙂

  • michael reznor says:

    That’s weird–when I look at Brennans as per your link, bottom right hand corner, I only see AngiesList.

    five minutes later…
    OK I have just found the Ratepoint reviews link. Bottom right hand corner of the *browser* window, in tiny type, where 99.9% of users will not see it. He needs to put it up front and center, big and bold, next to the AngiesList link (where it belongs–why has he got different reviews in three different places on his website?)

    2. Yes, it is “best” if you ask a customer for permission to publish their full name. Still, don’t do it. (1) Many customers will now be reluctant to provide the review you want, thus defeating the whole point; (2) Even if a customer agrees to let you use their full name, one or more of them will call you up some time in the future and ask you to take their name off the web. Do you really want to be responsible for a salesperson/burglar/stalker/ex-husband/worse finding your client, because you published their full name and location?

    “David Chism, San Diego” is easily identifiable; “DavidC, San Diego” is not.

    • David says:

      Good points, Michael.

      The next time I have a conversation with the owners at Brennan I’ll tell them to ask RatePoint for a better button. That is Ratepoint’s standard button. But glad you pointed that out…I wondered the same thing. But again…I’m not his webmaster and can’t tell you why everything on his site is the way it is. Was just pointing out what the RatePoint looked like. Thanks for the insight.

  • Norma Vargas says:

    That’s weird–when I look at Brennans as per your link, bottom right hand corner, I only see AngiesList. five minutes later… OK I have just found the Ratepoint reviews link. Bottom right hand corner of the *browser* window, in tiny type, where 99.9% of users will not see it. He needs to put it up front and center, big and bold, next to the AngiesList link (where it belongs–why has he got different reviews in three different places on his website?) 2. Yes, it is “best” if you ask a customer for permission to publish their full name. Still, don’t do it. (1) Many customers will now be reluctant to provide the review you want, thus defeating the whole point; (2) Even if a customer agrees to let you use their full name, one or more of them will call you up some time in the future and ask you to take their name off the web. Do you really want to be responsible for a salesperson/burglar/stalker/ex-husband/worse finding your client, because you published their full name and location? “David Chism, San Diego” is easily identifiable; “DavidC, San Diego” is not.

    • David says:

      Good points on Ratepoint’s badge not being that findable. Now that I look at what you are saying, that makes perfect sense. Hopefully Ratepoint will see this post and change it!

      As for using first names only or last names only etc. I think you make a valid point. However, our names are already out on the web! I know that sounds silly, but my business has my name all over it. I want people to Google me. Plus I’ve been “googling” customers and prospects for years to find out more about where they worked. I use Linkedin ALL the time to find out about people. If someone tells me NOT to use their full name (I always ask) then I won’t. I think it is up the comfort level of your customer.

  • Nick Dunse says:

    I to liked RatePoint till they went out of business. Was going to try customer lobby until after my first consultation they called me about 39 times!

    • David says:

      Nick…Not sure why Ratepoint went away. They were purchased by Constant Contact. Must have gotten a good buy-out option. Customer Lobby seems ok. Just seems a little expensive…and it is my understanding that it can filter reviews. I don’t like filtering and only showing 5 stars.

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