Q. I own a small business with a local shop plus an online store, and I’ve been told I need more customer reviews for my shop. I’ve heard there are tools that will get the shop reviewed online. What are these tools and do they actually work?
A. Customer reviews of your business, such as seller ratings on Google or brick-and-mortar reviews on Yelp, are a growing priority for small businesses, as well they should be. Despite the importance of online reviews, soliciting customers for reviews on a regular basis can be a challenge. A “mom and pop” owner who is already overburdened with running his or her shop may find it difficult to get out there and chat up happy customers to encourage positive reviews.
Below, we’ve listed four tools designed to help businesses gather reviews. These tools are geared toward online purchases. They allow the business owner to set up post-transaction customer outreach seeking reviews. The customer reviews are posted on the tools’ own website, not on the business’s site. These tools won’t help with Yelp listings or other popular review sites with which you may be familiar.
Customer Lobby will contact customers for reviews on your behalf by phone and email. The reviews are posted on a third-party independent website that can be found in Google search results. Customers with Google+ or Yahoo profiles are also directed to post reviews there.
Shopper Approved asks customers for reviews on an online thank-you page after a purchase is complete. Each review is posted on an optimized web page that can be found in search results. The more ratings and reviews your business receives, the more pages are created. A 30-day free trial is available.
Demand Force solicits customer reviews from an automated ‘thank you’ message sent immediately after a visit to the business. The company offers a syndication service in which the data is sent to Google, so a client’s Google Plus page is kept up-to-date with new content. A free demo is available.
ResellerRatings offers a customer follow-up platform to gain reviews for your business. In addition to your business’s reviews being listed on their site, ResellerRatings has the distinction among the services listed that the reviews feed into Google’s seller ratings list for your business. These seller ratings display alongside your business in Google Shopping listings and can result in gaining stars on your Google AdWords listings.
Do these tools work? We’d have to say “Yes,” but they come at a cost. ResellerRatings in particular drew a great deal of ire when it cranked up its prices dramatically over the past year or so, given that it was one of the few third-party rating sites that feeds into Google. All of the capabilities of these tools could probably be reproduced by a do-it-yourselfer at a lower cost, with a bit of time and technical know-how. However, if you have more money than time available, these tools could be a good choice for you.