The one secret you need to know to get great customer reviews

When is your customer’s enthusiasm the highest? After a great experience, right? After you’ve done something awesome, your customer WANTS to support you and tell other people. This same method applies to those of us who want great reviews and testimonials, too. My rock band taught me this lesson many years ago, and this idea applies to every industry. So what’s the secret to great customer reviews and how can you ask for them immediately?

Think of the last time you went to a concert for an up-and-coming band. On the way out the door, after you experienced a (hopefully) great performance, you walked by the merchandise table — commonly known as a merch booth. That’s the place where the performers will sell CDs, clothing, posters, and the like. Many times, they’ll be there to autograph the merchandise and chitchat with fans too. At this point, fans will “vote” on how they feel about the band’s performance by spending money — or not — on merch.

Why do the performers go to the merchandise table immediately after the show? That’s when the fans are still experiencing the afterglow of the concert. This is the absolute best time for someone to purchase something from you, and it will generally be the highest price you can charge for your merchandise, too. The “half-life” of this enthusiasm is extremely short, and is almost non-existent after a week or so.

Our rock band first performed at Summerfest in Milwaukee in 2002 on the stage in the picture. The flow of fans in and out of the stage bottlenecks at one specific point marked by the red arrow. Naturally, this is where the band sets up their merchandise table. Summerfest wants to attract great bands to play at their festival, and if the band sells a lot of merchandise everyone is happy. This setup is no accident.

“Okay,” you might be thinking, “ but I’m not in a business where a performance can sell something for me.” You’re wrong. In your business, you’re “performing” constantly. Any time you’re in the presence of your customers, your interactions with them are being judged and their impression will influence others. These performances can help you ensure future revenue by letting the world know your customers are happy. After that interaction concludes ask immediately for feedback, and if it’s positive request a great review from that customer. What’s the key here, though? You need to ask immediately.

When your customers have a great experience, ask them right away to complete the review on the phone they’re carrying with them, and request they use whatever ratings site you feel is most pertinent to your customers. We all need to use technology to our advantage in this respect. Since everyone is connected to the web constantly, how much time will it take your customer to do the review? Sixty to 90 seconds, maybe? The secret to a great customer review in this case: being front of mind. Once he or she gets home — or even back into their car — the likelihood of a review dwindles substantially.

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If you’re running a retail establishment or restaurant, you need more than the obligatory “Review Us on Yelp” sticker. Have your server or staff person give them a gift certificate for themselves and a friend after the customers complete the review on their phones. Your great reviews will skyrocket past your competitors. As long as they’re at it, encourage the customers to talk about their great experience on Twitter, Facebook, or another social network of choice, too. Consider providing another reward for this, as well.

If you’re in the kind of business where public reviews are uncommon, and letters of recommendation or referrals are, this secret to great customer reviews is every bit as applicable. After hearing great feedback from your customers, you should ask right away for recommendation or referral letters.

Another major benefit to this approach — as customers write recommendation or referral letters for you, it forces them to crystallize their thoughts about your “performance.” Said another way, these customers will be writing the script they use to recommend you to others. The next time an acquaintance of theirs asks about you, they can cite the letter or even give it to someone on your behalf.

How will you capture you customers’ enthusiasm? Looking forward to hearing your comments!

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