Reviews, Recommendations & Referrals by Len Carroll of Affordable Business Websites

I learned, early on, that to succeed in school I had to be proficient at the 3 R’s –reading, riting and rithmatic (guess spelling didn’t count for much back then). To have a successful internet presence for your business today, you still need the 3 R’s. Only difference is, they stand for Reviews, Recommendations and Referrals.

A sales theory that’s been around for a long time goes like this, a customer who has a good experience will tell one person, but a customer who has a bad experience will tell ten! With the ability of the internet to spread information exponentially, this theory takes on frightening implications. The customer who has a bad experience with your product or service is much more likely to take the time and effort to post about it on review sites and social media outlets. One more proverb for you – bad news travels fast!

Anyone who’s been in business for any length of time is going to have a few disgruntled clients, but there will be many more satisfied ones. The trick is to get that silent majority to speak up. It’s not rocket science, all you have to do is ask! Ask on the phone, ask through email, ask on your invoices and print material. Ask for Reviews of your product or service. Ask for a Recommendation of your company. Ask for Referrals to new prospects. Eventually your good reviews will push the bad ones down the list and they won’t seem so damaging. Remember, people expect a few negative reviews, so it’s not the end of the world when you get them.

Start with your most loyal customers, more than likely they would be happy to help you out. Ask them face-to-face or over the phone, then follow up with an email with links to a few sites like or Describe your ideal client and ask if that reminds them of anyone they know and can refer you to. Tell them you would like to find more customers just like them. Asking for an introductory phone call or email is going to improve your chances or scoring that recommendation or referral.

Countering bad reviews with positive ones is good, but the best thing you can do is to respond to the reviewer directly and discuss their concerns. After all, they are or were your paying customers. By opening a dialogue you get past their frustrations and maybe receive some valuable feedback about your business. Here’s a link to a Yelp video on this subject to reviews. According to Yelp “Responding to reviews is a great way to learn from and build goodwill with one of your most vocal customers”. Yelp allows businesses to respond publicly and privately to user reviews. Don’t forget about your positive reviewers, thanking them is a good way to let them know you’re paying attention and you care what they think.

Google is the biggest player in the online marketing arena, so ignore them at your own risk! Google Places has a 1-5 star rating system for busines reviews that show in their search results. Click on the Google Reviews link and you can read them all. This can be especially important if you’re a local establishment, as people searching locally on Google through mobile devices or home computers, will have instant access to these product/service/business opinions.

Let’s close by listing a few of the more popular review, recommendation and referral sites;

  • – the largest
  • Google Places – claim your profile first
  • Angie’s List
  • – claim your profile
  • – late arrival showing promise
  • – a favorable post is easier to get than a review
  • – receive recommendations from other professionals
  • – great for product reviews

There’s hundreds more, so find the ones that carry the most influence in your type of business.

If you have any questions contact me at your convenience. To see if you’re ready for a business website take the Website Aptitude Test from the menu link above.

Len Carroll – President
Profile at

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