Published: 16 March 2017
In order to have Google Review Stars to start showing up, you need to have five customers leave a review on your Google My Business page. Luckily for you, Google is making that process much easier for your customers, and doing more to encourage them to do so.
However, there’s more to the Google Review Stars than just getting a straight run of five-star reviews. Here are the top Google Review tips to make sure you use the review system to your advantage...
Never Offer Incentives for Positive Reviews
People can tell when reviews aren’t genuine. Not only that, it only takes one savvy customer to go against the grain and expose your incentive scheme in their review and boom – all the other five star reviews are invalidated in the eyes of your prospects. Not only that - Google doesn’t like it, and since your business depends on them for leads, it puts you in a precarious position.
Even if you presume that someone will only look at the star rating and not the review itself, it’s simply not worth the risk.
We can take an example to see just how damaging this practice can be:
In 2013 there was an enormous controversy with a smartphone game called Dungeon Keeper – the game was advertised as a fun "tower defense" romp, but was direly-boring unless the user purchased in-game currency (micro-transactions) in order to continue playing the exciting parts of the game. This tactic was scummy all by itself, but infamously, the app offered the user free and instant in-game currency if they left a 5 star review on the app store. Users who opted to leave anything but a 5 star review were taken out of the game to a complicated contact form, designed to discourage anything but perfect reviews.
The practice was so shady that ads for the app were banned and EA’s new mobile games are eyed suspiciously by users this day.
You Don’t Want a Perfect Score
No business is perfect and people know it. People generally react stronger to 4-star reviews or a middling 4.4 average rating, because they can immediately presume three things.
1. Enough people have left a review to have a decimal average on your page
2. The reviews are more likely to be balanced, honest and genuine
3. If they decided to read the reviews, they can expect a number of varied opinions that can help them make a decision
All of the above invite the user to enquire further into your business. A perfect 5.0 could be taken to mean that:
1. Only one person has left a review
2. The review could be in-genuine, or faked entirely
A 4.4 average rating isn’t perfect, yet the business is still highly rated and appears more genuine. Purely five-star reviews comes across as a little too good to be true. Resist the temptation to have your star ratings appear immediately by faking or incentivising reviews. Concentrate on providing excellent customer service and you can then concentrate on the next step.
Ask People for Honest Reviews
While you shouldn’t offer incentives, you can ask your customers to leave honest reviews about your business. Encourage them to share how they found your customer service, your products/service and their time within your business.
It may sound like you’re leaving the door open for negative reviews, but a negative review is the best opportunity to showcase your excellent customer service. Respond and do your best to make the reviewer feel satisfied. The important thing to remember here is that other potential customers will be reading this. You may not make an unsatisfied customer happy with your response, but you might convince an entirely different reader.
Asking for a review can be as simple as informing them either through a notice on your reception desk or through a thank you email/letter – but again, don’t incentivise for a good review.
To sum up, while its generally fine to offer a small incentive for leaving feedback, the key is to invite honest feedback. Not only will your customers provide genuine (and useful) feedback, they’ll offer the chance for you to showcase what makes your customer service so great, and make your business more attractive to Google users.
Google Review Tips will help you improve your overall marketing strategy, but a lot more is required to give your business the advantage over competitors. To see what more can be done, give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.