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Online reviews are powerful. Did you know that product pages with customer reviews receive three and a half times more conversions than those without? According to research by Podium, roughly half of consumers are "willing to travel farther and pay more in order to patronise a business with higher reviews".
When you get your online reviews right, you can build trust, boost SEO and drive up sales for your business. So how do you get this important aspect of customer service right?
1. Respect your customers
“We know the saying ‘Receive good service, you tell one person, receive bad you tell five.’ That old adage is out of date now with social media where you can tell thousands,” says Helen Dewdney, Customer Service Champion. “Exceed customer expectations and they will exceed yours. Respond to complaints in a timely manner and treat people as individuals. Consumers accept that people make mistakes but it's how you deal with them that matters. It's how you make people feel. Make people feel valued and they will shout about your products and service and do the marketing for you.”
2. Ask for what you want
“To gather more reviews you have to ask more,” says Nick Whitmore, Managing Director of Falseeyelashes.co.uk. “Just sending one review request email out is generally the standard - but to boost levels of reviews you can send follow-up emails. You can also look at sending push notification requests, SMS review requests and so on - providing you have permission to do so. By asking more, you'll get more reviews.”
There’s a fine line between badgering a customer with too many review requests, and not being proactive enough to get the reviews you want. The number of follow-up messages you can reasonably send a customer base will depend on the industry and the volume of emails you send to customers generally. A good piece of advice is to set a reasonable limit like two or, at a maximum, three requests for reviews.
3. Offer incentives
“Aside from explaining why reviews are important to you, you can also incentivize customers with discounts, prize draws and free gifts,” says David English, founder of Vegan Supplement Store. This is one of the most direct ways of positively encouraging customers to leave your business a positive review.
“We push for reviews of our products on our website and Amazon store by providing buying incentives, for example, offering a percentage off future purchases,” says Nadia Hamila, CEO of Moroccan food company Amboora. “Sometimes, we have offered influencers or thought-leaders free taste tests in exchange for a review or shoutout too.”
The more specific and relevant the incentive is to the customer, the more likely they are to return the favour and leave your business a positive review. “Depending on your target demographic, you might want to consider what tailored incentives you can provide for customers who leave reviews,” says the team at Tutorcruncher. “For example, if your product is about encouraging meditation and inner peace, you might want to give the incentive of a downloadable PDF guide that goes over some exercises for improving mindfulness.” Match the incentive as closely as possible to your ideal customers’ needs, wants and interests.
It is important to note, however, that some review platforms strictly prohibit incentives for customers to leave positive reviews. Trustpilot, for example, is one of the leading review platforms and has strict rules that punish companies for using financial or material incentives to gain positive reviews. It is best to check the terms and conditions of each individual review platform before offering financial incentives to your customers to leave reviews.
4. Automate processes
While continually prompting customers to leave reviews may seem like a labour-intensive process, much of this can be automated. “We use a customer reviews app which links seamlessly with our Shopify store to collect reviews,” says Liz Barnes from Swetwipes. “We also use links on all our outgoing emails. If we need any extra reviews, we simply ask for them on our newsletters.”
Incorporating a review request automatically into the follow up to your sales process can help with volume of reviews. “Our e-commerce system automatically sends a request for a review a few days after despatch,” says Dipa Shah of Cardology. “People can also leave reviews directly on the product page and we make it as simple as we can for them to comment which has definitely made a difference to the number of reviews.”
5. Learn from negatives
Embracing mistakes and errors can be a good chance to show your customer base that you are honest and open as a business. ‘Negative reviews are a great marketing opportunity,” says Keith Saye of web hosting company Big Blast Design. “You can show real class by replying promptly, honesty and with a genuine desire to deliver to happy customers.”
By proactively responding to poor reviews in a timely manner and with a professional, yet empathetic tone, you can build up trust with would-be customers. Noel Gaughan of Intensive courses echoed support for negative reviews, saying “You learn more potentially from a bad review than you do from good reviews and we encourage people to leave whatever review they would like. If they can see you are taking the bad reviews seriously they are more inclined to book with you.”
And it’s not just replying to a bad review that could win you happy customers. Making a mistake but then responding professionally could earn you glowing reviews too.
“Ironically, we have found our best reviews have come from making a mistake or if a customer complains,” says Jack Sutcliffe, CEO of Power Sheds. “We use this as an opportunity to excel with customer service and make sure we correct the issue as quickly as possible and communicate with the customer along the way. We then check in with the customer afterwards to ensure everything is okay. This frequently leads to a really good review – we don’t ask them to write one!”
6. Seek out specific endorsements
“One of the most important places for a business to have reviews is Google Maps,” says David Whatley, founder of MiShop.local. “The words in the review can influence where your business appears in local and voice search results. It’s not the star rating that influences where you appear in local search but the words in the review.”
“It’s therefore important to encourage customers to write reviews that mention the things you want to be famous for. For example, hand them a card or send an email that asks them to leave a Google Maps review that mentions a specific service. Use different prompts for different services so that you get a good mix.”
7. Add a personal touch
In an increasingly automated business world, there is still plenty of room for genuine personal touches and customers generally respond well to being treated as an individual.
“Try doing something the customer does not expect,” says Jack Sutcliffe. “For example, if we have taken an order over the phone from a customer and if they have ordered a shed for a particular occasion or if our team can remember something of significance from the conversation, we might send a handwritten letter which we send with the shed wishing the customer all the best for the future and mentioning something that was said in the conversation. This has proven to be a really nice added unexpected extra and often leads to a great review.”
8. Consider video reviews
The advantage of video reviews and testimonials is the level of detail you can see and hear compared to a text review, but also the level of trust in the authenticity of the review.
“Trust in our service is really important as we’re going into people’s homes,” says Denni Pavlov of Floor Renovations. “Video reviews are invaluable in building that initial trust. You can see how genuine people are in a video in a way that often doesn’t come through with written testimonials.”
9. Give customers a reason to celebrate you
Ultimately, you won’t gather great reviews unless you’re getting your product, service and customer service right. Treat your customer with care and respect, and you’ll be giving them every reason to write that five-star review.
“Encouraging customers to review you is pretty straightforward,” says Whitmore. “Offer great products at great prices, backed up with great service and people will want to shout about their experience with you.”
So, there you have it, nine things to consider as you try to gain more and more favourable online reviews for your business. As it becomes harder and harder to break through the clutter of the internet, authentic and reliable positive reviews remain an important way to gain customers’ trust and promote the quality of your brand, product or service.
If you are worried about the effects of negative reviews on your business, then Superscript’s range of flexible insurance policies could help you deal with any liability you may have for issues that caused negative reviews, and for the reputational damage it could inflict on your business.
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This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer.
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