IMPORTANT UPDATE as of JANUARY 28, 2012: We have verified that RatePoint, the service reviewed in this article, has abruptly announced the shut down of operations.
Water spurting everywhere inside your house inspires you to move fast. When this happened a few years ago, we found a plumber in the phone directory, but it took more than a few calls. And we were playing the homeowner’s version of Russian Roulette because we had no idea who would provide the best service.
That’s changed today, of course. There’s Yelp, Citysearch, Google Places, Angie’s List (which rocks). If you’re wondering if your customers are reading the reviews that others post on those sites and elsewhere, then this post is for you. I’m reviewing RatePoint, a fee-based service that helps you encourage and manage customer reviews and feedback. It offers tools to help you request testimonials and develop your online reputation.
If you need just a bit more info about why you should pay attention to the rapidly moving online reputation management space, read Lisa Barone’s post Small Business Owners Still Unsure About Social Media. It raised some interesting points and created a great conversation (read the comments on that post). The two main takeaways that I want to restate here:
- 47 percent of SMB owners either aren’t sure or don’t think their customers spend time on social media sites.
- 24 percent of SMB owners don’t think their customers do research online before finding them.
The easiest thing to do is believe and act like your customer is reading those reviews, because, well, they are. You are losing business if you don’t take this part of your business seriously. RatePoint is one of the tools that can help you do that. The service lets you easily collect business reviews from your customers and promote them across the Web. You can display them on your website or on various social media sites.
What I really liked:
- The subscription includes a dispute resolution service, which could help you prevent a negative review by helping you privately resolve a customer’s problem or complaint. This is huge for the small company that can use all the help it can get in managing a customer service department.
- I could easily ask a customer for a review by email or via my website with a form (which you can install by simply cutting and pasting a small snippet of code). That’s huge, and half the battle of getting more reviews. Also, RatePoint has a survey tool so you can ask your customers questions to improve your products and services.
- You can connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts to your RatePoint dashboard to help you promote those reviews. Obviously, you can’t change a negative review, but I’ve hired businesses that have the occasional negative review on Angie’s List if the overall rating is positive.
What I would like to see:
- The ability to customize the review form that customers see when they are asked to provide a review. It may be possible from within the management dashboard, but I couldn’t find it. Or, I’d like the default to explain that if the reviewer connects via Facebook, it doesn’t mean that their review will show up on Facebook.
RatePoint provides a helpful and needed service for most small business owners. With the growing power of social commerce, online review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List, you need a system and tool to keep up with what’s being said about you, to encourage your best customers to share their experiences, and to do all you can to prevent or overcome negative reviews.