Encouraging, collecting, and sometimes requesting reviews from your patrons is a regular part of the business, but is it actually hurting your business? According to Yelp, it could be.

Old habits die hard, and one of those habits is asking customers to leave reviews online for our business. Unfortunately, this winds up only being mentioned to happy customers and not so often toward upset customers. This is perfectly natural for obvious reasons. But unfortunately, this leads to biased reviews and can leave a significant gap in your feedback. This is important not just for growing your business based on constructive criticism but also for customers to get a full view of how your company operates.

To the surprise of some, the businesses that do the best on Yelp aren’t the ones who solely target happy customers or have strictly positive reviews but the companies that provide high-quality care across the board, without consideration for who is the most satisfied or most likely to leave favorable reviews. 

Seems sort of obvious now, doesn’t it? But how do we go about breaking the habit of how we request reviews now that we know this?

  1. Request reviews from everyone equally, not just the clearly positive experiences. This takes time and repetition but gets easier over time.
  2. Remove the request from mailing items that go out to subscribers. This applies to both web and mail. Instead, use a tool like ReviewMaxer that follows up with customers that have actually been in your store recently.
  3. Stop running competitions for staff members that encourage the collection of reviews. This ends up more often than not feeling like an aggressive pursuit of the customer who just wants to shop.
  4. When reviews are mentioned, do not say “sharing your positive experience with us.” Customers should feel empowered to leave any review, good or bad.
  5. Avoid offering rewards for completion of reviews, whether it be free food, shirts, or event tickets. Offering money in exchange for reviews is not only unethical but may be illegal in certain circumstances.

To ensure the best shot at the best looking review collection, treat all of your customers as if they could be the key to the next favorable review. Empower customers to share their opinions, good or bad, without asking them to leave a review for you. Provide a quality and memorable experience for each customer, and the reviews will come in.

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