Requesting reviews through other methods
Given that we aren’t really a local business we were just using our own tool built for local businesses — we had to use different methods in addition to Reputation Manager to request reviews. Some of the sites we were targeting, such as Fit Small Business, weren’t available on Reputation Manager.
In these cases, Heather set up notifications for each site and monitored them manually. You can streamline this process slightly by setting yourself reminders, getting push or email notifications, and, of course, using a tracker to monitor progress.
Though volume of reviews was the initial goal, Heather still continues to send out review requests via Reputation Manager and email on a monthly basis (Tuesdays during US Eastern Time’s morning hours have proven most successful) to ensure we have a continuing flow of reviews on our most important sites.
Another ongoing review generation tactic championed by Heather is including review links in emails. Every customer-facing team member at BrightLocal has a URL directing customers to leave a Google review in their email signature. This not only helps to ensure a steady stream of reviews, but it also means we’re offering every customer — happy or otherwise — the opportunity to share their feedback publically.
Incentivize your team
While review gating or incentivizing customers is a strict no-no, there’s no rule against offering incentives to your team internally. In fact, Heather says that this step actually made the biggest difference to increase our volume of reviews.
Each month she runs a competition within the Customer Success team. Reviews are organized by a points system — a review on a high-priority site is worth three points, while a review on a low-priority site is worth one.
The team member who gets the most points (i.e. the most reviews regardless of rating) will receive a gift card (or monetary equivalent) at the end of the month.
Just a few members of the international Customer Success team. Left to right: Heather, Trixy, Vicky, Grazzie.
(Fun Fact: Customer Success team member Trixy won the prize recently and used her winnings to buy the whole near 100-strong Philippines office pizza — if that’s not the nicest thing you’ve ever heard, I don’t know what is!)
It doesn’t stop at Customer Success, though! Another customer-facing team in the company, Business Development, has its own competition going, too. Unlike Customer Success, they’re only awarded points for reviews on high-priority sites, but any time they receive a review that can be traced back to them, they receive a gift card.
Monetary incentives always tend to work well, but these rewards-based systems also reminded teams outside of Customer Success that getting reviews is a key part of their role, too. When review generation was moved from being one person’s job to getting personal time investment from the whole company, we saw a 3x uptake in reviews:
The chart above illustrates how many new reviews we obtained each month in 2019. The bars in green indicate when we began working as a team to request reviews.
The roles that Customer Success and Business Development team members played was instrumental in boosting our number of reviews. In fact, arguably, this had the biggest effect on our increased review generation of all.
Each and every team member took this new project in their stride, working tirelessly to ensure that BrightLocal’s review profiles got the love they truly deserved.
To this day, individuals in the Customer Success team drive the bulk of our new reviews. Whether speaking to customers over the phone, responding to live chats, or emailing back and forth, not only do Customer Success team members provide stellar customer service, but they also ensure that reviews are a priority for both the agent and the customer.
If you’re hoping to boost your review generation, too, it’s vital that you get your entire team (or at least those in customer-facing roles) to get involved. And if you’ve got a team just half as passionate about customer service and reviews as ours is, then you’re sure to achieve similar results.
Respond to reviews
Among consumers that read reviews, 97% of them read a business’s response. So responding to customers that have taken the time to leave feedback is vital.
When it comes to responding to reviews, Heather insists that Reputation Manager simplified the process for her and the team tenfold. Being able to track responses from one unified dashboard saved valuable time and meant that we never left a review behind.
The ability to track responses also means that other team members tasked with responding to reviews, namely our CEO Myles Anderson and Head of Customer Success Vicky Chandler, can easily see what has been dealt with and what hasn’t.
Responding to reviews isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, though. It’s important to note that responding to reviews means being prepared to acknowledge any disgruntled customers, too.
Heather advises responding to reviews as quickly as possible, especially the negative ones.
In the case of a negative review, you should provide public acknowledgment (and an apology if needed) and then reach out to the customer privately to resolve their issue. Remember, review responses are a great converter to other potential customers, so you’ll want to use this as an opportunity to showcase your brilliant customer service.
And, if your customer service is good enough, you might just find you’re able to turn a bad review around. We’ve even experienced instances where Customer Success has been able to encourage previously unsatisfied customers to go back and amend their review to reflect the great service they’ve received. So responding definitely pays off!
Know your reviewers
Once Heather had received enough reviews to analyze the project’s performance, she was able to pull some data to decipher which customers were most likely to leave reviews, who was the happiest, and other useful data points.
Looking at the data, she could track the subscription level of our reviewers and what tools they were using, and could start looking at the trends to learn which customers were most likely to review us.
We found that SEO Pro customers review us more often than Single Business customers, so it might be that we choose to approach more SEO Pro customers for reviews in future because they’ve proven more willing in the past.
Additionally, on an ongoing basis, Heather tracks our incoming reviews (through Reputation Manager and manually). Every time a review comes in, she assesses what’s good, what’s neutral, and what’s negative.
These reviews are then added to a tracker (yes, another one!) including: which site the review was on, what date, what the score was, and what the customer type is.
Tracking these customer trends can provide valuable insight not only to the Customer Success team but to the business as a whole. We now know where our customers are seeing the most value, and so can improve upon necessary features.
For example, if Single Business customers were constantly giving us 1-star ratings, we’d need to question what was wrong with that pricing plan that led to such unrest.
If you too want to track where reviews have come from you can use Bitly codes or even track manually. For example, if a review request was sent out at 10.30am via customer service software and someone leaves a review at 10.36am that same day, you can probably track it back to that customer.