The consumer market is a highly competitive one – now more than ever. Everybody wants to have a piece of the very big pie. As a business owner, it’s not enough that your product has excellent quality. You should also know how to get the word out there. The most effective way is to get more reviews that showcase an excellent business reputation. You want to stay relevant and maintain a stellar image in your industry.
I’m not referring to paid advertising, or any marketing ploy that requires a big budget. While advertisements remain as one of the most effective marketing tools, there are other alternatives that are virtually free. Nowadays, you can just use social media to create buzz about your brand. Better yet, having an online review system is an ingenious way where you allow your customers to share their experience with your product or service the easier way.
These days, online reviews both genuine and fake, abound the internet. They are considered an effective marketing strategy to grow your business if you’re a startup. Or to maintain your foothold in the market, if not revive it after its past glory. Yes, your brand is as good as what others think it is. After all, the customer is king. Without people buying your product or service, or at least talking about it, your business may just disappear into oblivion.
Businesses need to have as much wider of a reach as possible. While maintaining the customer base, you still want to acquire new ones. Potential clients as much as more than 80 percent of them, count on online reviews when deciding on a trial purchase of an item or service. Such comments serve as unsolicited advice, if not personal recommendations, given that customers have been found to spend 31 percent more on something that has “rave reviews”.
But then again, you might wonder if such customer reviews are essential to all industries. Say, a company that offers plumbing services. It might be tough to get people to share their experience after having their leaking faucets fixed by a highly skilled plumber. That’s because it seems so basic and uninteresting. So the focus must be on the quality of customer service, friendliness, timeliness, and responsiveness. In that way, the customer will leave a review that mentions how quickly the plumber showed up, how respectful and friendly the interactions was, and that the problem was completely fixed.
For many clients, it’s much easier for them to write feedback on restaurants and online shopping products than express their opinion on something that’s outside their interests. As an example, a foodie can tell you a thing or two about the burger he ate with a passion. It won’t be so difficult getting him to write about it. But even in the most boring and standard product or service, online reviews serve a good purpose.
There is power in the written word. That’s why 94 percent of online buyers would decline to buy a product or service just because of a negative review. As such, a positive online footprint has more than its fair share of advantages.
Let’s get real, sales is the driving force of businesses. As a first time buyer of a particular product, you will feel much more confident about your purchase if a lot of people agree with you. Social approval is deeply rooted in human psychology which can affect decision making. There are times that customers can be so happy about your product that they can’t stop raving about it. They cascade their positive experience even to other review sites voluntarily. By having this expanded conversation, your sales will benefit more.
Success is easy to see. When customers look up on a product on Google, those with active feedback pique their interest. These ratings, aside from having fresh and fully optimized content, help the business site appear among the top search results. When your website is ranked higher, you are regarded as the authority in your line of business. This means a strong online presence, which can further improve web traffic to your site.
Meanwhile, it’s not enough to garner a number of positive reviews and just stop at that. Consistency and recency may affect their viability. You can have perfect ratings, but the most recent one was eight months ago. Hence, it’s good business practice to continuously encourage customers to write a review to keep it current.
Your brand can use the help of a steady stream of favorable reviews. Such feedback is a powerful mechanism in boosting one’s online identity. Simply put, having more positive reviews can encourage site visitors to trust your website. This can lead to a higher conversion rate. Needless to say, companies who have a few too many negative comments written about paint a bad image, and incur distrust in their business. That is why reputation management is so important. When you put priority in building your online reputation through customer reviews, it will lead to even more online reviews. This adds more integrity to your brand.
There are companies who make it a habit to acknowledge client feedback, whether good or bad, by monitoring their online reviews. Responding to them by way of saying thank you, or by giving special promotions as a reward thereafter, establishes a good relationship with the customer. This proactive review management stance, especially with negative reviews, helps in improving future ratings. When you address feedback in a professional yet personalized manner, it also provides another dimension to the brand as having a face. All these can lead to… you guessed it – better sales!
It would also do your employees good by rewarding them based on the positive mentions they gain from client reviews. Your staff will be motivated to actively advise customers to review your business as part of their after sales routine. The constant reviews will also keep your employees on their toes; to be at their best to represent your company. They would surely not want to be put in the spotlight in a bad way, which also hurts the brand.
No matter how successful a product becomes, as they say, you can’t please everyone. Somebody will still say something bad about you. And it is often that consumers are likely to sound off more when they experienced something unpleasant. Worse, they would even influence others to follow suit. Unfortunately, you put your brand at risk when you have piles of unfavorable ratings under your belt. It is said that with just a single negative review, you have already lost about 22 percent of potential sales. As such, your losses increase exponentially as you accumulate more and more of those dissatisfied experiences shared online.
That’s why even if a business has initially managed to be successful, negative feedback can bring it to destruction. Customer service is an important aspect of any business. Often, that one negative comment can open the floodgates for more. However, it could also be a result of internet trolling and foul play. As such, there are several dedicated review sites that use algorithms which help weed out fake reviews, both good and bad.
Many businesses do this – writing their own positive reviews to uplift their image. How tenacious can you get and create all those fake user accounts just to drumbeat your product? There are also those who are going out on a limb to pay a third party service just to post positive reviews about their company. Sometimes, this is being done to cover up previous negative reviews. One should avoid this dirty business tactic. And besides, it can be quite obvious, and if you do get caught, you lose credibility.
Google’s review system and other popular sites have sophisticated programs that are able to detect suspicious reviews. In fact, Yelp, a local search service fueled by user reviews, has been paying special attention to those trying to beat the system by using internal filters and algorithms. There are those fake negative reviews done by a direct competitor which can be spotted by review monitoring. When this happens, one can end up getting kicked to the curb. Therefore, engaging in this foul practice will do you more harm than good. Definitely not worth the trouble.
So the question is, how do you get people to write a review? What if your product is not exactly the most fascinating thing in the world? But more importantly, how can you gain more positive reviews in the process?
As it turns out, your sales staff or marketing representative is not your best bet at selling your merchandise or service, it’s your customer himself. While it can be a challenge for some types of businesses to get people to provide their feedback with their purchase, it has been observed that many customers are more than willing to help you get more Google reviews. Especially if they have a satisfactory experience with your company. In any case, employing at least one or two, if not all of the following pointers will earn positive ratings for your brand in no time.
There are missed opportunities when surprisingly, many businesses don’t bother to ask their customers for their review. Whether you are the customer service manager or sales rep, don’t hesitate to ask them for a review after they have made a purchase, or a service has been completed. Keep it tactful and do not put them on the spot such that they can’t say no to you. Telling a client to give you glowing reviews bluntly, is highly inappropriate, and surely not the right way to go about the drill.
Timing is key. When you see them in their element after buying an item in your store, with a smile on their faces, that’s a good time to proceed towards them and engage in a small yet friendly conversation. You can break the ice by asking open-ended questions such as how they are liking the product, or how they find the service that was rendered to them.
In case there was a problem, you have to make sure you have addressed it first and was able to turn it around, before you ask them for their review afterwards. You can always explain that you are open to constructive criticism in your continued efforts at further improvement of your product or service.
You can request for your client to write a review for the product or service by including a note on their digital invoice. This will give you a fresh off the boat experience review, which hopefully will be positive in nature. For companies with electronic mailing lists, you can run an email campaign which triggers automatically after a purchase. An example being done by Lyft, which is a ride sharing company, is to send an email asking the customer to review their service after the trip. What’s great is that you can do away with the fancy copy and be direct to the point.
Asking customers to review your company can be attached to a product survey as well. You can also post on social media – the fact that people bother to look at your Facebook wall means they might as well be game for giving you a good review. Customer support forums are also great avenues to collect reviews as the users are active in their communication to help out those within the social community.
However, it is important to engage the customers based on the platform you’re using. As such, if you’re asking for Facebook reviews, it’s best to reach out to the client via messenger. When crossing platforms though, just integrate your request accordingly. For instance, you can incorporate your Yelp review link in your email signature. Adding a short guide or advice on how to optimize the use of your product is a nice touch. It can help turn around an otherwise bad review.
You can also benefit from clients contacting you through your chat facility. Your chat agents can simply request the customer after completion of the session by redirecting them to the review page. The same goes for customers who call your business number.
If your company sends out postcards from time to time, you can promote the review habit by placing a corresponding QR code which when scanned, will send them to the site. When you have a brick and mortar business such as a restaurant, you can place your review reminders on the tables. Alternatively, you can do it the old school way by placing small review cards instead where the customer can write a review. You can encode their reviews on your site later on, thereby saving the customer the hassle of going online just to review your service.
Many sites have their own review system where customers can give their two cents on the product or relate their experience. For online transactions, you can always include a link which will direct them to the review page. Simplifying the instructions helps so that it won’t discourage people from putting in a good word for your company. You can also show in-app pop-ups after a verified purchase in your online platform.
Whether you already have your own review system or not, using other review-specific sites do not only increase your feedback, but also your reach that strengthens your online presence. You can start off by creating business accounts on at least 3 sites such as Google, Yelp, and Amazon. However, make sure that you choose the appropriate review site for your business to better target your audience.
Your company profile should make a good impression by providing sufficient content such as a general introduction, official photos, contact details, etc. In other words, you should present it as you would when you wrap gifts. The packaging should be attractive that you can’t wait to unwrap it (by writing a good review in this case).
After you properly setup your business page, customer engagement increases by more than 35 percent. You must note that each external review site may have different guidelines. Knowing the rules will help you take advantage of the system. Google and Yelp are known to have strict policies. They will remove reviews that are in violation of their rules.
If you are going to promote the review culture in your business, then you have to make it a simple and quick procedure. By placing short notes, QR codes, either on your physical store or online portal, you can easily remind your clients to do their part. Tell your customers where to go exactly, and ensure that you provide the correct and updated links. On your own review page, it would help if you don’t just place a “comments” space. Remember that not all customers are articulate. It could in fact intimidate some of them to write in the blanks.
Notice how the above sentences are somewhat leading for the customer to see the positive in your product or service? You will keep those positive reviews flowing much easier. For online shopping, we suggest you allot some time. Such as a week from delivery receipt before you solicit their product review via email. Definitely not immediately following the order. After all, these people are taking the time to write their comments. They may be extolling your virtues or carefully putting into words their valuable and informative feedback. They are not getting anything in return by doing this.
Meanwhile, it’s never a good idea to incentivize customers as a way to bribe your way into getting a positive review. Essentially, the review is going to be biased and tainted with dishonesty. Many review sites also penalize companies for this type of practice so it’s best to veer away from this strategy. What you can do instead is to reward the client after his review, which he is not aware of prior, by way of future discounts, or priority access to first dibs as a special token of appreciation.
You know how some customers unwittingly promote your brand by simply mentioning it in their social media posts? And often tag the brand? When they say they are currently in your salon, or just left your place? Why not take advantage of this moment to ask them for a review? A good reputation monitoring software could help you track these mentions of your brand. During these instances, it’s highly likely you’ll get positive comments from them. They would even appreciate the fact that you sought them out, so all the more they will tend to emphasize the kindest words they can say about your product or service.
So what do you do with the not-so nice comments? A few bad reviews here and there are actually normal. What matters is how the company responds to criticism. Are they willing to correct the problem and appease the customer by replacing the product or offering a full refund? After all, nobody is perfect. When companies address such bad reviews, it can actually turn them around. It is possible for some reviewing systems to revise the original poor rating given this scenario. This enables others to see how proactive your company which may translate to more positive reviews in the future.
Make sure you walk the talk. Don’t expect to get glowing reviews if your product or service is inferior. Work on the quality for both your product and the service you render, and everything else will follow. Because even if they find the product to their liking, but were treated shabbily at your store. Or the online process was painful, they will tend to harp on the negative. When you value customer satisfaction and consider all these aspects, it will not be difficult for that individual to share his positive experience online. Even without asking for it.