Should You Stop Asking Your Customers for Reviews?

Because businesses have actively solicited customer reviews (and other feedback) for years, many online review sites look like over-caffeinated click-a-thons. It’s hard to sort out the helpful from the hype. But it’s clear that consumers want to consider other customers’ opinions and experiences before they buy – in other words, businesses need reviews. Savvy online shoppers, however, are becoming jaded, as they know they must read between the lines, sorting the real reviews from those that were planted or paid-for.

Business owners are sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place, too.

Yelp and Yext are both trying to help, in different ways.

Yext, the New Kid on the Block

Most people probably have heard of or have used Yelp’s reviews. These reviews live only on the Yelp site and help educate Yelp visitors on the businesses listed on Yelp.

Yext reviews are different. Yext reviews appear on only your site so are visible to all your visitors, and importantly, no competitors’ reviews appear (unlike on Yelp, where competitor reviews are 1-click away).

Also, and very notably, the average number of stars your business receives will appear in-line with Google’s search rankings.

How important is that?

According to Yext, internet users click 50% more often on starred listings than those without: because the stars make them stand out and because reviews truly influence buying behavior.

Remember, Search Engine Optimization (getting more traffic from search engines) is a 2-step process. First, your page has to rank well in Google’s search results (ideally on the first or second page) and second, visitors have to click on your listing rather than all the others on the search result page.

Most people forget that second step and that those noticeable stars will lead to more organic visitors to your site. (Read more about how the stars can can boost local rankings.)

Yelp Reviews

Since 2004, Yelp users have written about 150 million reviews, and the company works hard to help consumers sort out what’s real and what’s helpful. So while it may sound counter-intuitive for a review platform, Yelp strongly, clearly, and repeatedly has told businesses using its site to STOP asking their customers for reviews.

In 2018, that’s probably just a little too idealistic. “Everyone’s doing it” isn’t the best defense, but let’s be real: everyone’s doing it.

Wherever sales are made – online or off – shoppers are implored (and incented) to provide reviews. Receipts from Taco Bell, CVS, Kohls, Famous Footwear (among others) beg shoppers to rate their services, sauce packets, shoes, and to describe their service experience. Most of those requests come with incentives, and customers who complete reviews earn rewards ranging from points, coupons and free sandwiches to sweepstakes entries.

For its part, Yelp doesn’t seem to mind going against the grain. The company’s clearly-stated policy prohibits listed businesses from soliciting reviews directly from customers. Yelp regularly identifies organizations it believes is “gaming the system, ” and penalizes them.

But Everyone’s Doing It – And You Should Too

We like that Yelp is doing what it can to actively weed out reviews that don’t meet its standards.

The ground rules it has established for businesses are designed to serve customers as well as listed businesses (and Yelp of course).

In our opinion, Yelp should be concerned about the businesses that are trying to game the system (contests, discounts, fake reviews) but not target those which are acting in good faith when requesting that customers rate and review their products and services.

It should be noted that Yelp does recognize that most businesses are playing fair: the company points out that it recommends nearly three-quarters of the reviews on its site.

So Ask Your Customers for Reviews – And Don’t Stop There

Your prospects read reviews and weight them heavily in purchasing decisions. According to Forbes, “88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

We recommend that our clients structure their businesses and train their staffs to stack the odds in their favor of getting good reviews by providing great products and services. We also recommend they manage those reviews by requesting that happy customers post reviews using Yext. The reviews can be automatically fed to a website – usually the Home or Testimonials Page, * and their stars will also appear in Google results when prospects are searching for your business.

Takeaway: Yext reviews and ratings being displayed on your website is good – and at the same time, your website gets more natural search traffic. A no brainer given Yext’s modest cost.

In other words, as long as you’re treating your customers (and review site partners) honestly, asking for reviews is good – and Yext reviews can make a good thing even better. Yelp reviews appear only on Yelp, but, that’s not necessarily bad. If you’re a local, B2C business in fact, it could be critically important so Yelp has its place in the review universe too. (Yelp may be all a local restaurant needs!)

Questions about managing customer reviews, Yext, local search, or understanding how reviews sites affect buying behavior? Contact us.

* you do have a Testimonials page on your site, don’t you?

Sales Renewal’s insight:

According to Forbes, “88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.” Are you putting the right reviews in the right place?

5 minutes read