How to ask for customer feedback – A go-to guide for small businesses

Local search engine optimization - more online reviews
Written by Neelanjana Barua

Introduction

Every growing business should be aware of what their customers think about their services. In-time customer feedback can help you deliver quality services to your customers and result in greater success for your business.

When it comes to in-time customer feedback, the internet is the hub of such activities. And thanks to the mobile era, the frequency, and scale at which customers express their opinions and ideas online has gone up massively. Your customers are constantly sharing their views about your services through online reviews, comments, posts, and tweets on popular social media platforms such as, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, amongst others.

 

If you own a  business, customer feedback is all the more important for you as it clearly states the customer sentiment towards your business. The scale and nature of customer feedback can have far-reaching effects in determining the success of your business.

Why customer feedback matters to your business?

Here are seven points which highlight the significance of customer feedback for your business.

  1. Gives quick insights about your services

Customer feedback provides an unbiased view of your  business. It is written by clients who have availed your services and reveal their actual experience. Such feedback helps your prospective clients in understanding what you are capable of delivering in terms of quality, efficiency and client satisfaction. So, this influences the purchasing decisions of your prospective clients in a big way.

2.Builds credibility and instills confidence

When your potential clients are trying to learn more about your business and come across numerous instances of good feedback, it will make your business appear more trustworthy. Your online customer reviews serve as personal recommendations for your business. They seem to be more credible than the claims you make about your services on your business website.

  1. Makes you more visible online

Customer feedback about your business also works behind the scenes to make your business more visible on Google search results by improving your SEO (search engine optimization). Recency of your online customer reviews is an important factor here because search engines tend to pick content that is fresh and relevant to a user’s search or query. Google gives 9.8% weightage to online customer reviews while assigning ranks on search.

  1. Good feedback gets you, new customers,

From the sales point of view, positive feedback about your business drives potential clients to choose your business over your competitors. Good customer reviews have a strong power of influencing a prospective client’s decision about booking a service from your business. So, when your potential clients read several good reviews about you, they’re more likely to get in touch with you with a business query or a direct booking.

  1. Negative feedback helps you improve

Just like positive feedback increases the chances of bringing in new clients for your business, negative cases present the opposite scenario.

It’s true that negative feedback can hurt your business reputation and make you lose potential clients. But they’re also full of learnings. You can easily identify your unhappy clients with your negative reviews. When you carefully read your negative customer reviews, you’re in a position to understand the sentiments of your clients and figure out the cause of those grievances. Try to analyze the cause and intent behind your negative reviews. This will help you in improving your services so that unpleasant situations can be avoided in the future.

  1. Comes for free

Online feedback is a form of user-generated content for which you don’t have to incur any additional costs. Since your customers are creating the content, it means fewer efforts from you but more benefits for your business.

In simple words,  getting online reviews means that your clients are actually marketing your business. This is a great advantage for small and growing businesses, which do not have the budget or resources for high-level marketing activities. With online customer feedback, you’re able to create greater awareness for your business without making any direct efforts on your own.

But please bear in mind, this does not mean that you can buy customer reviews. While buying reviews might seem like a quick, easy solution, it actually leads to several consequences.

Read: Why buying Google reviews is a bad idea

  1. More than just stars

Mostly, online reviews are overlooked as just ‘star ratings’. In reality, they are much more than that. Apart from being rated between ‘one’ and ‘five’ stars, online ratings comprise of important ‘keywords’. These keywords indicate those words which are commonly used by your customers. When viewed in isolation, they may not mean much to your business. But when grouped together, these keywords can give you deeper insights into the customer sentiment towards your business.

Read about how keywords can help you analyze customer sentiments.

Businesses should aim at receiving customer feedback continuously. Recency of customer feedback makes it more meaningful and helps you stay more relevant.

How to ask for customer feedback?

While getting customer feedback for your business can have a tremendous impact on enhancing the online reputation of your business, the job is easier said than done. Even if your clients are happy with your services, it’s a struggle to get them interested in writing their feedback online. If you try too hard to persuade them with a review request, chances are that they might find you pushy and intrusive.

The good news is –  there are many effective ways of soliciting reviews from your clients without being intrusive.

BirdEye recommends these seven guidelines that need to be followed while seeking customer feedback for your business.

1) Presence on review sites

Identify the top review sites online and register with them by setting up your business account that contains all your important details. Make sure that you mention your business name correctly along with a short description of your services, location, contact details, website link and links to your social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, etc. Having a business profile on Google My Business and other popular listing websites is a must as these online portals serve as a common platform for customers who want to voice their opinions online. When your business is listed across these review sites, it makes it easier for your customers to find you online and share their experience.

2) Review requests via email

This is the simplest things to do if you have the email addresses of your customers. But make sure that you follow these steps in order to create maximum impact with your review solicitation email.

Step 1: Pick a solid subject line

Choose a subject line that starts with your business name and includes a question to keep the tone more conversational rather than a standard line. Using your business logo and name on your email adds a professional touch to your review solicitation request. It helps your clients identify your business and distinguishes it from the email clutter in their inbox. The subject line is the most important part of your email as it is the first thing your clients will read. Your clients are more likely to open your email if the subject line resonates with them.

Step 2: Write down the main message

Your message needs to be simple and clear. All you have to do is to write down a meaningful and personalized message that conveys your interest in receiving an honest feedback from your customers. Tell your customers that you value their feedback and will use it to improve your services in the future. End your message with a thankful message from the team or CEO of your business. Nowadays, it’s become a common practice to send these emails out on behalf of the CEO of the business as it adds a personal touch and makes customers feel important.

Step 3: A purposeful CTA

Without a CTA, the entire exercise is redundant. Remember, your sole purpose is to pique the interest of your clients and direct them to the websites where you want them to write you a review. Make sure that you add a call-to-action (CTA) button at the end of the mail so that your customers are directed to the review website when they click on it.

Tip: You can also use a banner image on your email to make it look more attractive. Pick a picture that is relevant to your services and does not distract the readers from the main message.

 

3) Use SMS to get reviews

 

This is another great option for requesting reviews from your clients if you have their phone numbers. Make sure you pay heed to the following guidelines while sending out review solicitation requests via SMS.

  • Precision is the key

The key to sending out effective review solicitation requests is to be extremely precise with your message or text copy. Keep your messages short, direct and meaningful. Remember to add a link to the review website where you want your clients to leave you a review. You can shorten or beautify the link using free tools like bitly.

  • Timing is of the essence

Remember that an SMS is a more personalized way of reaching out to your clients as compared to emails. So, you want to be sure that you select the appropriate timing for sending out your review solicitation SMS. You don’t want to be disturbing your clients by sending out messages late in the night or too early in the morning.

  • Do not spam

Nobody likes spammers. Make sure that you do not abuse the SMS medium by sending out repeated and poorly spaced out review solicitation requests. A market study says that businesses should only send one text per week.

Make sure that you follow these guidelines while sending out review solicitation requests for your business using SMS. This will ensure greater success in your purpose without the risk of being intrusive.

A solid email & SMS strategy can prove to be very effective in soliciting customer feedback if they’re implemented in a timely manner.

Here’s a quick look at how BirdEye lets you ask your customers for feedback:

(a) Ask for a rating

You can use the standard 5-star scale:

Or use the Net Promoter Score (NPS) method:

Benefits: quick, easy, quantifiable

(b) Ask for a third-party review

Include direct links to the review sites you care about most.

Benefits: Free promotion, boosts ratings, improves SEO

(c) Send a survey link

Get a deeper insight into key areas of your business operations with custom surveys that ask only the questions that matter the most.

BirdEye lets you include a review request within your customer survey, and create a rule that sends only satisfied customers to third-party review sites.

Benefits: Run customer surveys for everything, including market research, employee engagement, customer experience.

4) Don’t forget your website

If you have an official website for your business, leverage it to its maximum potential. Make sure that you include a ‘customer reviews’ section on your website homepage so that whenever a customer visits your website with a business query, they see what your existing customers have to say about you.

  • The homepage of your website is the first touchpoint for your potential customers so it is important that you highlight your reviews section there
  • Make it simple for your clients to leave behind a review on your website
  • Anonymous reviews don’t do any good. Avoid them by all means.

Reviews on your own website

You can allow the clients to ‘sign in’ via their Google or Facebook account and write their reviews. Since most sites allow such sign in options, your clients won’t have a problem with it. This will also ensure that your review collection process is faster and includes a lesser number of steps.

Direct visitors to other review platforms

Provide links to your preferred review platforms on your website. You can also consider adding a short video of the reviewing process for customers so that there are no cases of confusion and your customers don’t have to read lengthy instructions.

5) Leverage social media

Another convenient way of asking for customer feedback is using social media. You can request your followers on social media to write down an online review for your business through Facebook posts, tweets, and direct messages. For example, use Facebook posts to ask your followers to write you a review on your website or other online review sites, where your business is listed.

When it comes to social media, it’s worth mentioning that Facebook has become all the more important as it includes a specific ‘review’ feature. By activating the Facebook review feature on your business page, you can make it very easy for your clients to write a review then and there. These reviews will be displayed on your Facebook page and will be visible to whoever visits you there. This is a great way to generate leads for your business as potential customers will decide to book a service with you if they read good Facebook reviews about your business.

6) Customer surveys can help

You can use surveys to solicit reviews from your customers. A well-designed customer survey will help you get honest answers and influence your customers to write a review.  Send out online surveys to customers who have recently availed your business and find out about their first experience.

Remember to pose a question to test if your customers will like to write a review. Keep that question at the end of your customer survey as it has an actionable element, that is, to get you a new online review. If your customers give you a favorable response expressing their willingness to write a review, you can direct them to the review website in the next step and end the survey.

7) Automate review requests

If you don’t want to stick to a manual process for sending out review solicitation requests, you can always use help.

BirdEye lets you automate the entire process of generating reviews.

How does BirdEye help in getting customer feedback?

As a robust online reputation management and customer experience solution, BirdEye has some interesting social media engagement features to help you solicit reviews from your clients. Birdeye’s review generation along with other powerful features enables you to generate greater online reviews for your business and view them all under a single dashboard. You can get real-time reports to track the performance of your review solicitation efforts.

Check out BirdEye’s Review Generation feature

Before launching your review generation campaign, define your goals and decide how you plan to measure success. BirdEye’s email, SMS and customer survey templates are totally customizable so you can continue making tweaks until you find what’s just right for your business.

BirdEye sends automated review requests several ways:

  • Email
  • Text message via deep linking app
  • Mobile kiosks
  • Drip campaign
  • Facebook
  • Business website
  • BirdEye app on cell phone (iOS and Android)

You can choose a method that best fits for your business, and customize your messages as per your requirements. Whenever customers review your business, BirdEye will send you real-time alerts so that you can respond to them immediately.

To learn more about BirdEye’s Review Generation feature, you can watch this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmLGmO5Fv6Y

Sign up for a free trial at BirdEye to know how it can add more value to your business.

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