By Susan Stern — Online Reviews, the good and bad, can make or break a business. So, positive reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Manta and Merchant Circle can be key to business success.
Asking for an Online Review
That said, before a business asks a client to consider penning a review, companies must clearly understand what they can, and can not do.
I draw from two real life stories that recently happened. In a nut shell. I noticed two Omaha retailers violated social media sites’ terms and conditions, and one business did worse. So herein, I shall discuss how not to ask customers to write online reviews.
Offering Discounts for Review – Major NO NO
Recently, I purchased a service at one Omaha retailer (I was very satisfied). While standing in line, I spotted electronic signage that stated:
Write a Google review, get $10 OFF your purchase and $5 OFF for a Facebook like.
Hmn… The business, albeit innocently, is in violation of Google’s terms and conditions.
Google’s business review policy hints at using “incentives”:
Don’t offer money or product to others to write reviews for your business or write negative reviews about a competitor. We also discourage specialized review stations or kiosks set up at your place of business for the sole purpose of soliciting reviews. As a reviewer, you should not accept money or product from a business to write a review about them.
So, here’s what I did to help the business. With professionalism and a smile, while handing over money for services rendered, I gave the friendly sales manager a candid heads up: “Thanks so much for great service. Just an FYI. You might want to consider taking down that signage offering a discount for reviews and likes.” I explained why.
Later, the owner called, thanked me for the advice, and the retailer removed the signage. A great end to story #1.
Don’t Pressure Customers
DO NOT Make Sale Contingent Upon A Positive Review
The business owner, with quivering lip and red face, had the nerve to state something like, “I will NOT sell the product to you unless you promise that you are satisfied, that you’ll only write a positive review.” To reiterate, the pressuring business owner demanded assurance that I would only write a positive review OR no sale.
What?! Oh my goodness. The demand was nauseating.
I responded with professionalism and candor:
“Number 1, as an Omaha Marketing consultant, who represents business, I don’t recommend you say that to customers. I’m well-versed on online review ethics. It is improper to base a sale on if I pledge to only write a positive review.”
“Number 2, due to the nature of my business, I tend to steer clear from writing negative reviews: I understand that a bad online review can damage a company’s reputation. I empathize and rather not be involved. So no worries there.”
“Number 3, I haven’t owned the item to know if I works right.”
(Note: What I didn’t say, but I had thought: the salesman left a really poor impression. Sometimes things are better left unsaid. 🙂
I also told the retailer:
“Number 4: If I choose to write a Google review, I can, like anyone. It’s called free speech. It’s my 1st amendment right.”
With my stress level exceedingly high from the conversation’s nature, the business owner left the room, discussed the matter with a level-headed staffer, before the pair returned with a new attitude.
I closed the sale because I really, really wanted the product. I shook hands with the business owner, thanked him and left. No, I was NOT happy with the owner’s “customer service in total,” but the product that I bought is spectacular.
Hopefully, this local retailer learns a lesson from our exchange. I assume some customers might not be so nice.
This Author Shares Story to Educate Business Owners
Will I write a negative review of either business? No, like I said before…
Instead, this Omaha marketing consultant seeks to share these real stories to educate business owners – how NOT to ask for a Google review. Many do not know the rules of the road. Customers should be aware, too.
Right Way for Business to Ask for Reviews
While obvious, no business should demand to know if you’re satisfied and that you would only write a positive review or no sale.
It is also a no, no to buy Facebook likes or offer product discounts for reviews. Doing so violates social media terms and conditions, and is just bad business.
Instead, do this. After a transaction is complete, if you sense a happy client, thank them, shake hands and politely say: “if you’re pleased with the product/service, please consider writing an online review. We appreciate feedback. Thanks for your business.”
That’s it. That’s all you should do – to ethically seek an online business review!
Comment below. Share Your Stories.
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