The right way to generate reviews for your local business.

Posted Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reviews are an important part of this business. Starting out especially. People may trust a store with a low review track record, but someone in his apartment with 2 good, and 2 bad reviews – his business is done for.

So, what do we do to get good reviews? There are several methods people use. Some are good, some are bad. These will be real life examples from real businesses, names omitted. I will also use social analogies to these methods. I have said many times before that repair is a social business, and building your business is social as well.

 

 

First method – offer a discount to people who leave in store reviews. $10-$20 off their repair service if they leave a review in the store. They will feel “guilted” into leaving a good one – even if you don’t pressure them. There are a few problems with this approach.

  • Reviews are filtered by many services if they notice patterns. Such patterns include a bunch of reviews from new Yelp! or Google Places users from the same IP address.
  • The right person may eventually let out that they were given a discount in exchange for a review, which will make people question the validity of your entire page – and your business.
  • It’s just lame.

Remember that kid in 3rd grade that let all the cool kids & bullies play with his toys, because he wanted to be liked by them? The kid that let people drop his game boy without asking for it back? The kid who would do other people’s homework? He was pathetic. That’s who you become when you start bribing customers to leave reviews. Did it work for him? Did anyone genuinely like or respect him because he passed his Game Boy around or wrote their book reports for free? It didn’t work for the kid in the schoolyard, and it won’t work for you now. Don’t do it. There isn’t enough money in the world that would pacify me sitting behind a “$5 off if you like us on Facebook” sign. Don’t buy like.

Second method – offer a coupon through a review/social media service to attract people & reviews***. Yelp! have deal coupons, Google has Google offers, Facebook has offers. All of these steer people towards your business and away from others that don’t have deals. Also, Yelp! ask people to follow up with a review if someone has purchased a deal. This is a great way to generate reviews and awareness for your business.

***Please do not mistake the 20% off or $10 for $25 coupons for groupon/livingsocial like services.Offering 40%-70% off will hurt your brand and your business. I am referring to small coupons here, not price gouging where you’re fixing iPhones for $20.

Now you may be thinking – the first and the second method both involve you paying for something, what’s the difference? Think of it like a club. Paying a cover charge to enter a club where you meet women you may sleep with that night is very different from hiring a prostitute and having sex with her in your apartment. They both cost money,and they both may end in the same outcome, but they are very different ways of getting there. You may prefer the more direct approach of the latter, but again, look at real life – the people taking that approach don’t seem too happy… do they?

Third method – fake reviews! Simple, make a bunch of accounts, log in from a bunch of different wifi hotspots. Clear your cookies each time and make a new email/social media account and voila, tons of fake, positive reviews.

The problem with this method is that it is incredibly transparent, and again, also lame. This is akin to hiring people to pretend to be your friend at school. Or, hiring escorts to follow you to a club and chat you up so you appear popular. If you think you won’t be found out, think again. People will notice, review sites will notice. The time you put into this nonsense you could have put into any other form of advertising.

Fourth method – provide “grand opening” type deals. If you’ve moved into a new location, go the extra mile while first open. I’m not saying you should treat people like garbage after your first five star review comes through, nor am I saying you should perform repairs for free. Just give people the idea that they are special. A little more individual attention, and a little extra service, in the beginning – especially if you’ve moved to a new location! For example, if it’s a very simple data recovery, give it to them for free when they buy a new drive. If you charge extra for immediate service, and it’s not too busy – waive the fee – “just for them.”

It is true that most people do not stop to leave reviews for a good experience. They expect something to work the way it should. They use the product/service, get what they expect, and go on with their life. People typically do not stop to leave a good review unless something goes above and beyond. It’s your job in this method to not only go above and beyond with service, but set their expectations properly. Make sure they expect what they’d get if they went anywhere else. Then, dazzle them by exceeding those expectations 100fold.

Similar to a relationship, coming home and ordering the same takeout and watching the same Seinfeld rerun before bed just doesn’t cut it. You haven’t done anything worth making her mad, but you’re not making her happy either. Switch it up a little if you want glowing reviews.

Fifth method – ask! There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for a review. Asking for a glowing one or putting words in their mouth is one thing. Asking for “a review” when someone comes around to it – is not bad.

Now, what I will tell you, do not solicit reviews from everyone. Solicit reviews from happy people only. You may be thinking, hey, that’s cheating! Well, it is, but it’s legal cheating. Get used to it. Do you introduce angry ex-girlfriends to new women you meet? Do you discuss your prior relationships and how they failed in detail on a first date? Fuck no. You put your best foot forward. You don’t cheat to make yourself look better than who you are, but you’re definitely not going out of your way to make yourself look worse either.

Every company does it. You’ll hear the Department of Homeland Security and the NSA brag when one of their measures resulted in a 9/11 bomber being caught, but if some innocent peanut farmer winds up in Guantanamo, they’re not going to encourage FOX to talk to the peanut farmer. It’s just business – we should not bury our failures, but we’re not going to advertise them either. And that’s ok.

Lastly, a tip. Don’t take it personally.

Some people simply aren’t going to like you. Some people won’t like your service. Sometimes, you may even foul up and deserve the bad review. If you truly earned your bad review, and you know it – extend an olive branch.

Let’s define an olive branch. An olive branch is resolving the situation with a peace offering to fix the problem even if it means losing a little money or inconveniencing yourself by making this customer your first priority. Maybe, offering a discount. An olive branch is not a full refund, or a bribe to remove the bad review. No one benefits from this, and if your client smells it on you – you’re now their bitch. No one respects a bitch. Offer enough that you can say you made your best effort to keep bad karma away. You can’t please everyone, but you want the least amount of lifelong enemies as can be out there if you are in the service industry. I know, the business is your baby, and the idea of someone hating your baby is sickening, but you cannot resort to such means to keep people from hating your baby. If full refunds and bribes are used to clean up all of your wrongdoings, you might as well be Ted Kennedy.

Further, pick and choose the people you extend olive branches to. Some people are crazy. You can’t do anything about crazy people – they hate you for who you are, not because of what you did while working on their device. They carry bad karma with them and cause miserable experiences on themselves & others, and you can’t pacify them regardless of what you do. Sometimes you need to realize a problem customer and just let them go. The energy you spend trying to please someone who will never be happy will take away from your ability to help other customers. On rare occasion, the bad review is fake, so you are actually fighting a ghost.

Point being, don’t become one of those lunatics like Dietz Development or Amy’s Baking Company that goes to the extreme because of one angry customer. Standing outside your ex’s apartment throwing rocks through her window or salt & sugar water in her gas tank is not as productive as going out and meeting other women.

This isn’t the only way, but it works. We have a great review history. Considering how late we were to the game compared to other local businesses, that have been open 5-10 years before us, we have caught up and surpassed many local competitors with no scummy tactics used.  Sure, we have some negative. Then again, I point out the bullshit in our industry on a weekly basis. We have industry low prices that piss off competitors, anf a no-nonsense method of dealing with difficult people. I have told people to go fuck themselves and thrown customers out of the store. I use cutthroat tactics to give our business a competitive edge over the rest. It’s amazing there aren’t barrages of people lining up to throw rocks through the window! Above all, we’ve been understaffed from the beginning. Where other businesses have 4-10 people on staff for a given workload, we have 1-3. So, I’d say 4.5-5 stars on every social media platform there is is pretty good, and if someone like me can follow this advice to success – so can you!