We’d much rather plant a tree than twist your arm for an online review.
For the Millennium Group, a small technology company serving small businesses and individuals, the whole notion of asking for online reviews for our business was an anomalous idea; never fitting into our company’s mission and incongruous with our modus operandi. The whole notion seemed to fly in the face of our Midwestern manners, especially since our staff had forged strong relationships with our clients and our clients had reciprocated their appreciation on a daily basis. Most of our business came from word of mouth and we felt awkward and uncomfortable any time we tried to ask for reviews.
After decades of running our business we had only lost a few clients (typically when they had large overdue accounts) and only two such entities left rambling, incoherent and deceptive reviews on social media. We figured anyone in their right mind who saw these negative reviews would smile and fully understand the underlying issues, and therefore there was no sense in feeling vexed or distressed.
Nonetheless, we felt the paradox. After all, we specialized in technology: we built websites, used social media and newsletter services and consulted with our clients on how to build and manage their online presence. Over the years, we witnessed how crowdsourcing and consumer reviews revealed both the bright and dark sides of technology (and humans) – it could be heartening and informative or outright nasty, ugly and bogus.
The Hard Truth
If you are in business, you have to deal with your online reputation. Your products and services may be superb, but if you do not have a good Google rating, it can all be for naught. We entered the Brave New World years ago and life will never be the same.
A large industry has popped up to help businesses boost their online presence and manage the good, the bad, and the outright morally revolting aspects of business reviews, blog comments, and social media posts. No company or industry is immune from public reviews and they can literally make or break you.
“If you care about A) winning new business from the internet and B) not bleeding business to your competitors, then you need to be paying attention to what’s happening with your online reputation and how that compares to the reputation of your direct competition. Because you baby, are now in a five-star arms race.” – Starloop.com
The new reality is that now 92% of consumers read online reviews and make their decisions accordingly.
After several of our clients recently asked us for advice on this issue, we dug into it again. The results were disheartening. There are lots of sites that will give you fake reviews for a price (don’t even consider it) and countless website widgets and plugins designed to get customers to review your company. There are reputable independent consumer review organizations such as Which, Angie’s List, Trustpilot, Yelp, Foursquare, Yahoo!, Merchant Circle, TripAdvisor, TestFreaks, Choice, and of course, Amazon and Google – and a dazzling number of companies that promise they can get online automated feedback from customers, such as GetFiveStars.
The premise to most in the industry is “Ask for a review”.
It was a Forbes article entitled “How To Get Hundreds Of Positive Online Reviews “ by Shep Hyken that caught my attention. The author had interviewed “Daniel “Danno” Vivarelli of Starloop, “a young business that has a system to elicit feedback from customers, and even more importantly, get good feedback posted to a public review site.”
An inner smile emerged as I read the article and I was soon on the phone with Danno, himself. After a few days of doing my homework and exchanging emails with Danno, we were sold on his simple and elegant process and the philosophy behind it – so much so that we decided to try it ourselves.
It helped that Danno is a young Canadian entrepreneur that looked and spoke without the typical marketing BS. It helped that he was curious and chatted without sales pitches or strict scripts and with an unconstrained impulse to laugh without premeditation. It helped when I heard his daughter giggle in the background and Danno explained that his family was in Spain, on one of their stops in a long extended journey to experience the world with his kids. He clenched it when he described himself as looking like a bald hippie and chuckled at himself. And it helped that he was passionate about planting trees.
Invitations and the Law of Reciprocity – Starloop
The splendid simplicity of Starloop is premised on these principles:
- Don’t ask for a review. Ask for engagement
- Don’t settle for shallow interactions.
- Mitigate negative comments sincerely
- Make it easy, ethical and automated
- Do good deeds and good will come back to you – (Starloop honors the Law of Reciprocity by planting a tree on behalf of every customer who leaves an online review. Their goal is to plant a million trees in countries facing serious deforestation.)
- Trust your audience and give them the dignity they deserve
- Use kind, clear, concise and thoughtful language.
- Don’t make your customers feel harassed or uncomfortable
Over the last week, I have riddled Danno from Starloop.com with questions. How can I assure my customers that you will indeed plant a tree for every review they post? Can I customize the messages to our customers? Where do you plant the trees? Which organizations do you work with to plant the trees? Is there a contract we must commit to? Will this work for a small company like ours?
Danno patiently answered all my questions:
- Yes, you may customize your customer’s messages so that they know they are from our company.
- The best way for Starloop to get a maximum number of trees in the ground is to use tree planting partners with established teams and operations already on the ground. Among the best we’ve found are Trees for the Future, Tree Canada, American Forests, Eden Projects and WeForest.
- Peruse the clothing company 10tree.com to see how they obtained unimaginable success by planting trees and being socially responsible. Visit Trees for the Future to see how their stories are changing lives and the earth for the better.
- Stop the program whenever you want. You are free to go anytime. Starloop has a 30 day, no fuss, money-back guarantee.
- Starloop will work with all kinds of businesses, whether they are large or small, product or service-oriented. See the progress of companies using Starloop in real-time, online.
- You can always get in touch with us. We’re here to help you grow.
The Millennium Group has decided to partner with Starloop and at one time or another, you may experience the application yourself. We hope that you will be candid about telling us what you think of our services and that it will be a quick, pleasant and encouraging process for you. We will share our experience with you in newsletters and blogs, and since we already feel Daniel “Danno” Vivarelli is as authentic as they come, we look forward to helping Starloop plant a lot more trees. – Jinx Davis