In a recent report, Nielsen published findings that indicate an interesting fact for businesses: Online reviews are among the most trusted sources of information for buying decisions. If you're asking, "so what?" do so at your own peril.
For years, consumers have been able to go online and rate or review a business. You'll recall the old adage, "If they like you - they'll tell a few friends, if they don't like you - they'll tell EVERYONE!" Well, that's become much easier to do thanks to Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp and a host of other Internet resources. However, if you understand this, and you're prepared, those rankings can be a powerful sales promoter for you.
What I find interesting is that many businesses are playing ostrich by ignoring the reviews or failing to proactively monitor them. The fear is commonly express as, "Well, if I give them a way to comment, I might get a bad one." First, admit that they have the ability to comment on you, your business, your service, and their experience, whether you want them to or not. In fact, it's probably already going on. Search engines and directories (i.e. Yelp) have aggregated business data over time and probably have already published an unclaimed business profile. Once that information exists, people can use it to rate/rank you...with or without your permission.
Second, if you had a defective sales process, a faulty experience, or simply an employee who was having a bad day, wouldn't you want to know about it so you could address the specific issue and possibly prevent it from happening again? As someone who's managed sales operations, I know I'd want to know. At least there might be a chance to resolve the issue and turn a disgruntled customer into a neutral party or better yet, a brand promoter.
Third, Google has begun using the quantity of reviews a website is receiving as a factor in how that site gets ranked in the search results. It's not the only factor, but one you can definitely manage. Look for future posts on the topic of Online Reputation Management.
For now, consider this concept. If I know I have a happy customer, wouldn't they want to tell others about me? And if so, wouldn't those comments tend toward the positive? If I could implement a simple system to enable customers to comment about me, would others want to know? Nielsen seems to think so. By the way, ever heard of Angie's List?
Anyway, the key would be to train your staff to look for those opportunities and simply ask for the recommendation. Have the client go directly to a counter top PC and enter some comments, give them a card with the link to your online profile(s), better yet, ask for their email and send them that link. But remember, you have to look for those opportunities. Not every customer is going to follow through, but more often than not, if you're team's consistent, you'll be surprised with the results.
Our company has developed some interesting tools to help you easily incorporate a "rate our business" campaign. You can communicate this face to face, on your website (you do have one right??), and even on your social media outlets (yep, we do that too).
Look, someone once said, "You can have your own opinion, but you can't have your own facts." When it comes to increasing business, why not take advantage of the comments that are already being made? It can lead to higher search engine rankings, better brand/reputation management, and as Nielsen's data proves, it will have a direct impact on your customer's buying decision. If you'd like to discuss how we can help, give me a call.
Here's the link to the Nielsen report summary: http://marketingland.com/nielsen-consumer-trust-in-traditional-media-ads-fall-while-confidence-in-mobile-social-and-online-rise-9712