Friday 6 November 2020

Reviews: quality trumps quantity - every time

If you are buying a shirt perhaps the fact that the particular shirt you are looking at has thousands of five-star ratings will give you some comfort, but, by-and-large, if the shirt looks great you are going to buy it.

But where high-value services are concerned? The fundamentals here are altogether different: any business hoping to thrive in this sector, be they legal, financial or medical professionals, estate agents or any other service business that is asking people to part with significant amounts of their hard-earned cash their reviews score - their Google review score - needs to be at 4.5 or above before their reviews even begin to stand a chance of being read. Then the quality of those reviews needs to be high...

  • the written English needs to be as near flawless as possible
  • the content of the review needs to address the issues that most concern a prospective customer

And let's take those two points in more detail:

Written English

You cannot dictate what your customer writes, nor how it is written, but you can influence both in converation with your customer before they write their review by tactfully explaining just how important their review is for your business.


In the same way: customers will often ask you "Are there any aspects of your service that you would like me to highlight in my review?" 

Both the above serve to stress just how important personal contact is if you are to succeed in getting great reviews. It's an extension of your personal service to your customer and should be presented as such to them: "We rely very heavily on our reviews to communicate that value we add to future customers". 

And we cannot stress the word personal - in italics above - strongly enough: there is a completely understandable tendency for some businesses to attempt to absorb review management into the central marketing or admin function but this does not work. Writing a review is seen, by almost every review-writer, as a personal favour to the individual who has provided the service: their lawyer, their financial adviser, their estate agent. We see this time-and-again in the individual reviews: 'Thank you to Laura' not 'Thank you to ABC Plc'. The invitation must be sent by the individual, not the business, and followed up by the individual (for more on this see 'Procedure' below).


There are three main review-gathering mechanisms in common usage these days:

  1. In-app
  2. Text/SMS
  3. Email
And all three have their roles to play. But for complex service businesses, where quality is the aim, Email - plus follow-up phone call - is the only way. Why? Simply because extensive research over many years has shown that the first two methods, whilst capable of eliciting reviews in volume, have a marked tendency to encourage very brief reviews.


The kind of review that SMS elicits:

The kind of review written by a customer that has been approached by email with a follow-up call:

Our benchmark...

See that '...More'? It's indicative of a longer and more detailed review. We aim for at least forty percent of our clients' reviews falling into this category, simply because this kind of review has so much more impact and influence than the 'one-liner'; it's the kind of review that prompts the potential customer to make contact, and that's the ultimate goal of all review management.

It is also interesting to note that in the last example 'Aoife S-G' is a first-time Google reviewer. These are gold-dust, and are very rarely achieved by anything less than the most professional and focussed invitation, both verbal and by email.

The procedure we recommend

The first thing we say to new client businesses is: embed review management into the day-to-day culture of your business. It's not something to do when the office is quiet - although many businesses could benefit from a concerted push during the current 'lockdown lull'! - or at the end of the month; every single customer should be seen as a potential source of a review and the fact that you will be inviting them to post a review should be mentioned and reinforced at every opportunity. 

  • The first mention of the fact that you will be asking them for a review should be introduced during your initial pitch 'I'm sure you will have read some of our reviews, I will be asking you to post one if you appoint us'. This not only warns them that they will be expected to post a review it also reassures them that your reviews are a genuine reflection of your business and not cherry-picked, as so  many people assume
  • Reinforce that mention every time the customer pays you or your business a compliment during the process: 'Thank you, it would be great if you could mention that when the time comes to write your review.'
  • Every other touch point pays dividends: before you send the email inviting the review and definitely as soon as it lands in your customer's inbox. The latter takes response rates from low single digits to as high as fifty percent.
  • Customers will often ask for prompts: "What would you like me to focus on in my review?" Don't be shy!
  • Always follow up if the customer has not posted their review within seven days. 

No single client of ours has ever had anything but a positive reaction to any of these steps; after all, why should they? They have provided the service the customer appointed them for and writing the review costs the customer nothing.

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