You already know word of mouth is an important way for potential customers to find your business. You do a great job for one person, they tell another, and the next thing you know you have an entire client base that stems from a simple referral. Word-of-mouth reviews work because they are active—the person must choose to pass the referral along—and because they are coming from a known source, they are considered more trustworthy.

What you may not know is that online referrals are even more effective. Instead of a one-to-one communication between one satisfied customer to another potential customer, it is a one-to-many communication: a client leaves an online review on your MSP business, and can be seen by a massive amount of people over time. In fact, it is estimated that on average one person on social media will influence 42 others by sharing their experience with a business.

As captured in the Better Business Bureau's (BBB) whitepaper, Online Reviews: Your Reputation is on the Line, recent surveys hit the point home. Online reviews influence the buying choices of 90 percent of customers (Zendesk Survey), and 88 percent of customers said that online reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations (Brightlocal Consumer Survey Review, 2014). Further, 9 out of 10 people looked at reviews online over the course of a year to help them make a local business decision, with 7 out of 10 people take positive action to contact those businesses after reading reviews (Brightlocal).

Those are promising numbers, so I think it’s fairly clear by now—your MSP business could benefit from positive online reviews. Here are some tips to encourage your customers to leave them.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask.

There’s nothing wrong with letting your customers know that you take online reviews seriously, and you would appreciate if they could take the time to leave a review—especially if they enjoyed their experience with your business. Of course, it’s unethical and potentially unlawful to pay for positive reviews, so always encourage your customers to be open and honest about their experience. Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Facebook and Twitter are all great places for reviews.

Learn how to use social media channels to supplement client relationships!

If you can, solicit these review requests face-to-face or by phone. This type of personal interaction can create a strong emotional connection to the request that can generate positive reviews. And of course, follow up with these clients to politely remind them that if they are happy with their service, a review would be highly appreciated.

There are plenty of other effective ways to encourage reviews and testimonials with your customers. Some include.

  • Email
  • Postcard
  • Online Survey
  • Website Contact Forms

Respond to Everything!

Nothing activates a customer base like engagement. A quick thank you to a favorable review, or a thoughtful response to a more critical one makes your customer feel important, and sets the example to new visitors that you’re passionate, engaged, and interested in the success of your customer experience. It can even be possible to convert a negative review into a positive one just by an appropriate response, and will set the standard for even more favorable reviews. That said, not every unfavorable review will be able to be mitigated, but customers are savvy enough to know that the law of averages is in play, so if the overall trend of your reviews is favorable, you should be in good shape.

Share the Good News.

It’s easy to get excited when you read a positive review about your business. However, before you get too excited, there’s work to be done. Make sure you’re capturing every review, testimonial, social mention and positive note about your business from your customers. These are priceless, powerful pieces of content that can mean the difference between converting new customers and leaving them feeling unsure about your business. A good review is the best advocacy for your value prop, so, with permission, be sure to feature and share these!

Do you need help pulling together client case studies? See what types of case studies are available to you, as well as best places to post them!

Then, use this template to create and customize your own customer case study! 

The Best Tip for a Great Review.

Remember, the best way to get great reviews is to deliver the best possible service you can offer, listen to your customer’s concerns, and make sure they feel empowered and heard. A customer that feels they made the right decision by choosing your MSP business is the one who will be the most motivated to leave a great review, but inversely, the same goes for those who feel they did not receive what was promised to them. Deliver on your services the first time as best you can, communicate in healthy discussion with your customers, and encourage them to leave reviews often, and you will be well on your way to enacting a successful online review strategy.

The preceding data was gathered from Online Reviews: Your Reputation is on the LineFor more great insights, be sure to check out the BBB's whitepaper, and stay tuned for How to Attract Top Talent with Employee Review Sites!