You've been a perfect vendor (you might even consider yourself a partner), with a track record of exemplary service and responsiveness. Knowing how important reviews are to your marketing success and credibility, so you approach one of your best clients - someone who can't say enough good things about your work - to ask for a review. Your request is met with a resounding "no problem, we love you," but the actual review never materializes. What's up with that?
Believe it or not, there are a lot of perfectly good and legitimate reasons your client might not want to provide you with the sparkling review you so certainly deserve. In fact, a missing review might even be a compliment. Now before you start rolling your eyes at my insanity, consider the following:
1. Reviews Can Be Seen as Endorsements
In some organizations, employees are actually forbidden to provide any official (or even unofficial) recommendations. If that seems over-cautious, know that it probably is. Still, when you look at things from the company's point of view, it's understandable: What happens to their credibility if they are seen as recommending you and then you do something they wouldn't want to be associated with? This is more prevalent in some industries than others, but it's important to know that some connections would love to say good things about you, but can't because their hands are tied.
2. There Might Be a Motivational Factor in Play
Let's face it, some of your clients might be a bit wary of giving you too much praise because they worry your work will drop off the minute they start gushing. In other words, they are afraid it could make you complacent, so they use positive reviews as a motivational ploy, thinking that the promise of a testimonial will keep you working even harder. This can be frustrating, and potentially manipulative of course. It's also an implicit sign that they appreciate that you've done a great job for them and want more of the same in the future. I'd think this one through to see if they are truly a fit for you and your business. Because if they feel they need to dangle a carrot to get you to perform, there's a chance you are actually in a less-than-equal, less-than-respectful relationship.
3. They May Be Suffering From "Secret Sauce Syndrome"
(Tip: this one is the compliment.) Whether they're willing to admit it or not, some clients might be shy about endorsing you publicly simply because they don't want their competitors to find out about the work you do. Perhaps they consider your contribution to be their "secret weapon" or the "secret sauce" that makes their business special. This is a challenge we run into from time to time at KAYAK. While being the secret weapon can make it difficult to get the reviews we want, we have to admit it's the ultimate compliment.
Any of these factors could be enough for a happy client to hold off on writing a review about you or your company. Since the reasons are mostly outside your control, what should you do?
A good first step might be to ask again, politely, but only if enough time has passed since your original request. It might be that your contact intended to give you a good review (and still does) but has just been too busy. Or you could simply move on to the next customer and see if you can get a good review from them.
It might also be worth considering whether you're really setting the world on fire for this particular customer. Is it possible that they're saying kind things about your work because they're hoping you'll live up to the praise or because they're just being nice? Examine your work history for them and figure out if there are things you could be doing to try harder or pick up the pace.
I remember asking one important client for a review last fall. She did one, graciously awarding me 4 out of 5 stars. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked if I could do better or if I hadn't been performing up to her expectations. Her answer was that she loved us and our service, but that could never give a 5-start review until I could anticipate her needs (telepathically perhaps?)
While we're always aiming for that, it's certainly a tall order. A tenuous situation to be in, because that single 4-start review actually lead the way for 2 more immediately after, even though it was preceded by a long list of 5-star reviews. Not an avalanche heading downhill, but it did catch my attention.
Assuming none of these seems like the answer for why you aren't getting reviews, then you have one more choice: Do something so great that they can't hold off on giving you that great review for another minute. Come to think of it, that might be the best choice of all, no matter why they've kept you waiting.
Assuming you got some value out of this post, would you consider writing a review for me? Most won't, but maybe, just maybe, the effort I put in to writing this post helped you and you'd be willing to put that in writing. I certainly hope so. :-)
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