As marketers, sometimes we need to be honest with ourselves. People generally approach marketing and advertising with skepticism. “Of course you say you’re the best, you’re trying to sell to me.” That’s why our recent blog post emphasized the importance of inbound marketing and providing customers useful information.
But there’s something even better than that at gaining a customer’s trust - reviews. Reviews are powerful because they come from a third party. They’re more objective, and they are seen as more credible, unbiased and accurate than anything you could possibly say.
Where do people post reviews?
People rely heavily on online reviews, so it’s no surprise there are countless platforms for people to rate, rank and comment on your business. Social media sites like Facebook and Google Plus let customers leave a review and rating. Dedicated sites like Yelp have millions of reviews.
Amazon, eBay and other online shopping sites all let you review products and sellers. These all represent conversations about your business that you aren’t in control of. And with social media, customers can talk about your business any time, any place.
Why do online reviews matter?
Reviews matter because they will directly impact whether people will purchase from your business. According to a study by Zendesk, 88% of customers have been influenced by an online review. That’s consistent with another study by BrightLocal, which found that 88% of users read online reviews and 72% trust a business more after reading positive reviews. Reviews influence people and are a valuable source of information for customers researching a brand or product.
How do I get more (good) reviews
If you’re a small business, the easiest way is to just ask. Determine which customers are most likely to provide a good review. Look at your interactions with them and see if there was anything that stood out, or if they have already expressed their gratitude in some other way. These highly satisfied customers are poised to become brand ambassadors and are more than likely willing to provide a public review.
To get more reviews, you also need to provide a forum that you have some control over. If you are active on Facebook be sure to turn on the review option for your customers. Similarly, Google Plus allows customers to post reviews, and your average star rating will show up next to your name in search results or your company’s preview page. This will often be the first thing people see when searching your business, so make sure you direct your happy customers to these sites. Having a few sites you are in control over lets you monitor the comments and reply to each customer's post.
How should I handle a bad review?
No matter how well you run your business or how great your products are, you will inevitably get negative reviews from time to time. Responding to these the right way can actually build trust with your audience and overshadow the negative comment itself. When you receive a negative review, there are three things you need to do.
First, respond immediately and politely. Thank the customer for their feedback, promise to improve and apologize for their experience. Next, provide the customer with a phone number or email address for them to get in touch with you. This is important for two reasons. One, it shows that you are legitimately interested in their feedback, and two, it moves the conversation outside of public view. It gives you back control of the situation and ensures your weaknesses are not discussed further online.
Finally, provide the customer with something as an apology. Coupons, small gifts or refunds are all cheap to distribute and can end the experience on a positive note. The same Zendesk study found 62% of B2B and 42% of B2C customers purchased more after a good customer service experience. It is also well understood that it’s cheaper to retain a current customer than it is to acquire a new one.
If you are receiving multiple negative reviews, it’s time to consider how you can improve your business. Once you have made changes, publicly acknowledge the reviews again and explain the changes you made to address their concerns. This will help bring people back to give you a second chance and will discredit the negative reviews posted before you improved.
Go on, get reviewed!
Reviews are a powerful part of marketing, and while you cannot control what people say, you can encourage customers to leave positive reviews and ensure you properly address negative ones. As social media, online review sites and digital shopping platforms all grow, reviews will play a powerful role in the customer’s decision making process.
Want help getting more reviews for your business? Get in touch with us and ask about our consulting services.