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Get Grateful to Improve Your Ratings and Reviews

Previously Published On LinkedIn as, ” Ratings and Reviews Rule the Web and What You Should Do About It

Did your dentist’s office used to have a three-ring binder on the waiting room table? Mine did. It was full of letters from satisfied customers in plastic sheet protectors. Testimonials from a satisfied patient that arrived in the mail.

Testimonials. Ratings. Reviews.

The ultimate expressions of gratitude online today…even better than a thumbs up or a barrage of fire emojis, are reviews and ratings.

Have you thanked someone for great service? Have you told someone’s boss that they have a stellar employee? I’ve worked in both sales offices and call centers. Customers rarely call support or sales to offer a compliment or say thank you. We reach out to complain when things don’t go as expected. As a result, businesses work hard to survey customers and solicit feedback. How much does your business benefit from good ratings or positive reviews? 

Online reviews and ratings drive business today. It’s easier to do than writing a letter. Giving rewards for quality products and services is at our fingertips. We can put that “Gratitude energy,” back into the universe in a way that is truly helpful. 

I’m guessing that there aren’t three-ring binders in anyone’s waiting room anymore. However, both having gratitude and offering testimonials for a job well done are no less important. The internet has become a vehicle for learning about what service or product you will choose long before you try it. You post on Facebook asking “Know a good barber?” or “What’s your favorite Thai restaurant?” Once you have a short list, what do you do next? 

You check the reviews. You see how many stars and ratings have been posted.  It has become part of how we decide to buy most everything. We even use ratings to decide what recipe to use for making meals at home. 

All recipes screenshot highlighting areas where users can provide ratings and reviews

Online Ratings and Reviews Have Influence

Online reviews and ratings drive business. Testimonial Engine says that 72% of customers don’t take action until they have read reviews. Positive reviews and ratings are the linchpin for attracting new business. They are more important than your own content for top of the sales funnel lead generation. The influence that online reviews have on consumer and business buying decisions is profound. Third party validation prior to making a decision to act gives the buyer all the power. According to a 2018 survey conducted by BrightLocal:

Positive reviews make 68% of consumers more likely to use local businesses. 

Negative reviews stop 40% of consumers from wanting to use a business.

91% of 18-34 year olds trust online reviews equally as much as personal recommendations. 

Online reviews and ratings are so important that in 2016 Congress passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act, which prevents businesses from punishing or threatening customers for leaving a negative online review. Businesses won’t last long if they provide inferior service or products. 

Snapshot from a Review

The reviews that we have access to are better qualified and authentic. Our snapshot of a product or service has gotten deeper and broader in many cases where it’s needed. A One-to-Five-Star Rating isn’t always enough., for example, provides detailed ratings and reviews of business software and services. When viewing a software vendor’s product the criteria that you can use to make an informed decision are deep and wide because the data is now being collected and used appropriately. 

Business Today Must:

1. Pay attention to reviews.

2. Ask for ratings and reviews (72% of us are more likely to give a review when asked!)

3. Respond to reviews. Hubspot has a great 10 minute read on thisThe Ultimate Guide to Responding to Positive and Negative Google Reviews [With Examples]

 As an organization of any kind, business, non-profit, school or healthcare provider, I encourage you to have a strategy for ratings and reviews that is integrated with all departments and business functions – not just customer service. *

I want to encourage your generosity and inspire you to write more reviews and give more ratings.  

We’re Still A Bunch Of Lurkers Online

The Wide World Web has become a high speed delivery service for all manner of goods, services and communication – good and bad. This is an opportunity for good. As a web world, far more of us consume than create. The 1% rule applies to most every community online. 90% of us consume and observe, 9% participate and 1% create. However, when I consider the importance of ratings and reviews to the process of attracting customers and generating leads for new business, it seems like a great place to express gratitude. 

Perhaps you’ve written a recommendation for a student or an endorsement on LinkedIn for a vendor? We all want and need this kind of testimonial. We all need to ASK to be reviewed and to be prepared to act on the feedback. We hope that our businesses and products get the magic 5 stars. Why not make it a regular practice to give great ratings and reviews when they are earned and deserved?

Where Do you Give & Get Your Reviews

The number of websites used to encourage ratings or aggregate reviews is on the rise. [I’ve included a list of some of the major Ratings and Review sites below]

Where do we look? ReviewTrackers survey data says that 63% of consumers check Google My Business reviews first. Makes sense as Google is #1 for Web traffic globally. Facebook, Amazon and Yelp follow in that order. 

Some of the most popular review and ratings sites can be found below. There are many lists of review sites online. 

Yellow Pages




Facebook – link to Facebook Recommendations, an Underrated Gold Mine For Social Proof which covers:

  1. Why Facebook recommendations are important for your business
  2. How to attract more Facebook reviews
  3. How to convert positive reviews into traffic, leads and revenue business software and service reviews



Better Business Bureau 

Sitejabber ratings and reviews of businesses including Home, Garden, Art and Fashion

Manta ratings and reviews of business including Industrial, Agriculture and Technology

Angie’s List offers profiles, listings, ratings and reviews for private practices and hospitals


Side Note: Although Bing is behind in share of search traffic, it is worth noting that they offer a free business listing and opportunity to develop ratings. Take advantage of it – it’s free real estate. Anytime you can influence your search results in a positive way it’s worthwhile. 

Once a Day Have Something Nice To Say 

Give reviews. Rate products. Provide worthwhile data for others to make the same kinds of decisions that you are making. Are you going to write to let someone know they did a great job? Wonderful. If not, at least mention them in a review. There is a lot of talk about gratitude in business. This is how you can execute.

Perhaps this is a good time to start providing as many testimonials and good reviews as we want to get?

*A strategic approach to ratings and reviews is a component of an effective modern digital business. It should be a component of the digital transformation discussion particularly in sales enablement, if it is not already. Further, it is a component of growing online community AND, it is part and parcel to better results and metrics in online employee and customer communities.


  1. Ridings, Catherine & Gefen, David & Arinze, Bay. (2006). Psychological Barriers: Lurker and Poster Motivation and Behavior in Online Communities. Communications of the Association for Information Systems. 18. 329-354. 10.17705/1CAIS.01816. 
  2. Belleflamme, Paul and Peitz, Martin, Inside the Engine Room of Digital Platforms: Reviews, Ratings, and Recommendations (February 22, 2018). Working Papers, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, WP 2018 – Nr. 06 . 
  3. Sinan, Aral, (2013, December 19) The Problem With Online Ratings. Retrieved from
  4. Helversen, B.V., Abramczuk, K., Wiesaw K., Nielek, R. (2018). Influence of consumer reviews on online purchasing decisions in older and younger adults, Decision Support Systems and Electronic Commerce,
  5.  Alexa Web Site Rankings by Category: Consumer Opinion

Strategic Alliances: How we do it at Citrix

Strategic Alliances are a core component of bringing innovative products to market in the digital age. “Having an agile process with executive and cross functional leadership involvement is paramount to success,” said featured speaker Steve Blacklock, VP of Global Strategic Alliances at Citrix. Steve spoke yesterday evening at the 2nd AAC Meetup to an intimate group of fifty at Workspan HQ in San Mateo. Enterprise technology professionals that participate in the Alliance Aces community got a window to a core component of digital transformation – Alliances for cooperative product efforts at enterprise scale that get to market before the market moves.

According to Steve, “The strategic partnerships that don’t get realized are those that take too long.  Innovation in partnering and forming these alliances is required. You just don’t have as much time as you used to before the market (evaporates).” 

Some key points to consider based on how Citrix addressed alliance initiatives:

Maintain these “Principles for Success:”

  • Clear Vision/Strategy Framework
    • Setting clear vision/strategy/initiatives/execution framework for team and measuring success
  • Focus on Leverage
    • Consistent focus on points of leverage in developing plans and programs
  • Everyone Sells!
    • Setting up team to evangelize, carry flag for alliances – every conversation is an opportunity
  • Recognize & Execute the Opportunity
    • Executive engagement – making the most of the opportunities and making something of them with top execs
  • “Creative Tension”
    • Creativity with your partners competitors is a great motivator
  • Create leverage – Strategic, Technology and Solution, Marketing and Sales. 

Execute with process and less bureaucracy with an executive level, cross-functional committee that has a clear charter and expected outcomes.  

The committee performs monthly reviews of formal, well-defined submissions that include all aspects of roadmap and go-to-market for the alliance outcome. 

Leverage Rules

Citrix uses four pillars of leverage in determining the value and maximizing the opportunity of each Strategic Alliance:

Strategic Alliance presentation at Workspan by Steve Blacklock at Citrix
Steve Blacklock addressing the Alliance Aces Meetup at Workspan

Successful Alliances require considerable attention to keep the train running down the track. It’s an orchestration of alignment between corporate strategy, internal and external evangelism and governance.  

Some of Steve’s closing (overarching) points included:
– An existing function has to manage and own the initiative – NOT the Alliance team
– Discipline is key – the process is constantly reinforced with consistent and frequent communication.  

Note: An interesting comment concerning NDAs in strategic alliance programs resulted in Amit Sinha, Workspan Co-Founder and CFO, suggesting the use of a one to many and/or a many-to-many NDA for all participating partners.This is worth following up on with Amit and Workspan

Are you working on Alliances and partnerships? It’s a moving target that requires change as part of your process. Connect on the Alliance Aces community to learn and share best practices.  


Sales and Customer Community: Where’s The Bridge?

I’m perplexed by the disconnect between customer community and sales. Does your business connect community interaction to the sales process? How are you doing it? What are your results?

The keys to understanding your customer’s journey and having your sales team meet its quota can be found in your customer community.

The disconnect between sales and community is common. There are very few enterprise sales organizations making this connection. My experience with sales, marketing and community leadership suggests that there is money on the proverbial table if these business areas can align their goals and objectives. There is valuable data, interaction and talent in customer communities that is not being leveraged directly by sales. Customer community is typically owned by Customer Service or Marketing/Communications and is most often viewed as an instrument for reduction in churn rate and customer service cost. These goals result in bottom line impact however there are top-line revenue gains being missed.

There are companies that have a measure of integration with sales in place. Organizations that have sales as part of the customer community roadmap either:

a.) See community as a lead generation tool. Typically this means making some or all of the community open to the public, or,

b.) See community as a direct sales channel, stuffing the community with offers and sales interaction, eroding the customer-centric nature of the community.

I can game out the sales ratios and likely see a revenue gain in either case above. However, there is significant potential for middle-to-bottom of the funnel increases in effectiveness. Sales leadership understands how the modern digital sales funnel has evolved – making conversions in later stages of the sales relationship necessary to remain competitive. Online customer community must remain a non-threatening, non-transactional place. So, how do you get to the revenue gain?

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) Or How to Actually Operate at Digital Speed

“The Sales Process is not linear or cyclical,” 
Rachel Miller, Senior Social Strategist,

Customer Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are a critical puzzle piece that must plug into your sales enablement initiatives. Customer community can help increase sales and contribute to sales enablement success by developing direct relationships with active community SMEs. this serves top-line growth in the following ways:

  • Improve qualification rate
  • Improve the psychographic depth of customer persona(s)
  • Improve understanding of the customer journey and critical milestones
  • Correct the sales process to accurately reflect the customer journey
  • Improve sales stage accuracy and forecasting
  • Reduce Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

An SME can be an influencer but they don’t all want to be one. It’s the external SME that isn’t looking to influence as much as to contribute and advise. You get up-voted and popular in a customer community if your answers have value. Does that mean you’re an expert? Maybe. But there’s more to it than that. The Community Roundtable has helped deploy a variety of tactics to identify SMEs in the launch of new online communities. The work is predominantly in employee communities where there is some historical data and activity. Active communities engaged primarily in customer service and advocacy models may have a more challenging time finding out who, externally, can help. HOW to identify and engage the SME is a tactical exercise to be explored further and it’s critical that you get this right.

Only the SME can help clarify your customer personas, customer journey and participate in your content strategy. Weaving SMEs in customer communities into sales enablement functions is a path to a steadier flow of up-sells and renewals, increasing Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR).

What is being Measured?

Community reporting and analytics do not relate to sales. Most online community KPIs are connected to traffic and engagement and not to metrics that could help refine sales process and content strategy around the customer journey. Valuable communities require engagement, contribution and problem solving. It’s important to measure these attributes to ensure the communities’ continued success. It’s not enough though, to get to the potential ROI from digital community that builds prosperous relationships.

Marketing is interested in who can further the message. Advocacy is the highest level of customer participation. Community KPIs are built around customer service and/or marketing objectives, missing the mark in acquisition and institutional adoption which are critical to meeting revenue goals.

Drawing stronger lines from Community Management strategy to Sales Enablement, such as length of the sales cycle, conversion rates in the funnel and sales velocity (how fast leads are becoming customers) is a path to growth through better customer relationships and understanding.

Community Sales Integration Framework 

Sales gears turning graphic

I am driving toward proper integration of digital community with sales enablement and sales processes. There is evidence that, at a minimum, the tools exist to allow for better measurement, to arrive at a process for reducing sales cycle times and to produce content that is more effective both in the middle and bottom of the sales funnel. Doing this now will produce a tremendous competitive advantage. Putting the framework in place and piloting some existing communities will help establish a maturity model and best practices.

Propel It Forward

Perhaps you have some evidence of this being done at some level of maturity that can be shared? Are you as a Sales or Community leader? Do you work in an organization where community activity relates more closely and in better cooperation with sales strategy that I’m seeing? What would integrating your community into the sales enablement process mean to you?

[1] The Community Sales Integration Framework and Maturity Index is due to be released in early Fall, 2019 by C7group. We are actively seeking Community and Sales Enablement professionals to contribute insights, best practices and pitfalls to avoid.

This blog post was first published on LinkedIn here.


How to Close B2B Sales in the 4th Quarter

I hope this will help you as you plan and consider how you’re tweaking end-of-year strategy.  Perhaps it will provide guidance for mapping sales content to the proper stage in your sales process.

This video includes what I believe are critical components of B2B Sales for the next few years.  I know the changing sales funnel and it’s intimate relationship with the customer journey must dictate content strategy.  Closing 4th quarter sales requires a simple (not easy) formula.


Please share your thoughts and participate in a conversation around what I believe are the critical component for B2B sales, particularly in the Software as a Service (SAAS) marketplace, these next few years.

Thank you!

There are several slides shown briefly in the video. You can download a PDF of the slide deck here.

Let’s Talk!


You Can’t Control Customer Behavior Online

American Genius published an article, “Corner Bakery Cafe forbids photography inside their restaurants, ‘it’s policy.’” It is another cautionary tale about bad decisions with regard to customer engagement and misguided social media policy. The Corner Bakery Cafe forbids photography inside their restaurants. As author Marti Trewe says in the article, and I agree,“Unfortunate and misguided.”


It  has never been easier to spread your reputation and garner attention, especially for a business like a restaurant. In fact, social communication is partly responsible for the meteoric rise of the gourmet food truck sector from 2011 until now. There are tons of success stories, especially in the restaurant industry, of getting referral and repeat customers as a result of shared stuff online. After all the heart and soul of “social media,” is user-generated content.


Your business is online and in social channels. Whether you choose to actively participate in the conversation or not is your choice. Never expect to control the conversation. Any attempt to dictate customer behavior can be damaging to your brand.

If our company were to do an analysis of Corner Bakery Cafe then trying to prevent customers from sharing anything online would be a significant weakness. Chain stores of this size (170+ locations in at least 17 states) are beyond this phase of maturity. Many are now figuring out how to train and engage their employees to safely take part in social channels. If you’re still considering public engagement then you are behind competitively in most markets.


  1. You should not attempt to control customer behavior (because…see #2 below)
  1. You cannot control customer behavior
  1. We are in the age of the empowered customer. You must find a way to weave the experience you create into the customer’s journey.
  1. Digital interaction is part of our lives now. We share information in the moment. You can choose whether or not you embrace it personally. However, as a business, organization, team or nation, your choice SHOULD BE dictated by your audience.

Note: Corner Bakery Cafe has an active presence online with popular, carefully managed profiles on most public platforms.


Why Are You Still Using That Stupid Password?

I’m not sure why this article from Slate, The Internet’s 25 Worst Passwords, and What They Say About You, popped up in my blog and article feeds today. It reminded me, though, of some of the clients that we work with and how they treat the password field. Short, easy to remember lousy passwords  – and they’re all the same for every website, social platform and web service. Aren’t we all reading the horror stories of compromised accounts and information?

Listen Up Already and Don’t Get Hacked

It drives me a little batty. We’re not an internet security company and don’t provide security advice but I’ve been around computers and network systems for awhile now.  I’ve had conversations with software and network security professionals that have changed my own behavior. Some of these talks were a little scary with regard to how vulnerable we are especially if we don’t do a few easy things to significantly decrease our odds of being hacked.

Security of stored digital information is relatively new. There are services available that permit you to enter your email address and learn “Which Of Your Accounts Have Been Hacked.”

Manage Your Information S.M.A.R.T.

When we engage a new client and have responsibility for online properties with passwords and login information we use a Google spreadsheet, Client Master Credentials Template. Not only does it serve as a single source of information for projects, it fosters sharing and trust. It’s not recommended as a solution; Usually it ends up being a tool to recommend using better passwords.

Deloitte consulting recommends using the S.M.A.R.T. approach – Strong, Multi-character, Avoid associations, Random, and Tools. Strong means long. The longer the better and the more difficult it is to crack. Multi-character means just that. Use everything that the site allows. No birthdays, pet names, child names -nothing associated with your personal life.

The best thing you can do overall is not even know your passwords yourself. Use a password management tool like Lastpass or SplashID that also has the capability of generating random passwords. The convenience of these tools is that they can easily integrate with your favorite web browser. Once you’re logged-in the software will take care of all your sign-ons with varying degrees of security that are easy to customize. You only remember the one password.

Need some help? Let us know and we’ll point you in the right direction.







Whitepaper: Seven Social Media Mishaps and How To Avoid Them

We’re excited to release an end of year white paper that provides some real tips on doing social better in 2014. Read these seven cautionary tales and the corresponding lessons. We’re confident that you’ll take-away something useful.

Get More Info

Read this social media whitepaper and takeaway the best cautionary tales and practical advice on how to not let them happen to your business.

Simply enter your email address and the download link will be sent right to your inbox.


Social Media Training Discount for Business Owners and Executives

We launched an awesome discount of 50%  (Discount Code: Holidaywish) for one-on-one executive social media training. If you missed it then this is your week to ensure you begin 2014 with a stellar set-up and workflow to integrate social media into your business day. Don’t bolt-on social or try to program it as a stand-alone activity like most other projects and tasks.

man and woman having a conversation at computer keyboard while training in social media for business

Learn how to set-up your web browser, gather information online, synchronize information between desktop and mobile devices and find what you need when you need it. We combine in-person and live screen sharing sessions.

Learn More & Book It

Making time for social is important. How you do it is important. Getting some training that offers you a safe place to get your questions answered will be one of the most important things you do for your business and customers in 2014.

Buy now or get in touch and ask your questions!


Sharing Content – It’s the Little Things

When we sent our Happy Thanksgiving email using Mailchimp it was shared on Facebook. After all, why should our email of gratitude and holiday wishes only be limited to our mailing list? The pesky auto-post-from-one-online-service-to-another. It posted with Mailchimp’s logo from the email.


Perhaps you’ve done something similar. In fact, you may have abandoned some tools in their early releases because they transfered your well engineered blog post to a lousy text-only-link  on Facebook or elsewhere.  It sounds finicky, persnickety or some other thing that ends in “y,” that means workflow on social tools that just works like my toaster.

There is a bunch of little stuff and getting it right takes time.

Social media managers, community managers and many more are fiddling around with getting all of the details right that can contribute to making things work in concert.  And they break. And they change. The mistakes are public and need to be acceptable.

These days, the learning happens live. Right there in front of you. Hopefully it’s something small and annoying like this and not a contribution to the book of digital cautionary tales.

Of course, after seeing the post appear as it did to the right, this help, How can I choose the image thumbnail that shows up on Facebook was easy to find (Mailchimp has great support ). So, we can do it right the next time.

We’re still grateful. Have any of your own tips or mistakes to share?


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