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Customer reviews and feedback. You want them. You absolutely, totally want them.
They tell you how you are doing, how much you are being loved (or despised), where you are going wrong, and how to set it right. They build credibility for you and improve your online presence. A recent survey of 1000 consumers revealed 67% people trust online reviews:
This alone is reason enough for you to start being proactive about collecting them. Once you have understood the critical importance of getting your customers to advocate your business, which is what user reviews essentially are, you’d want to get started on making this a reality without any further ado.
Here are a few tried and tested ways of garnering more and more positive reviews and customer feedback to boost your business’s credibility.
Send Out Requests for Feedback
“You miss 100% of shots you never take.”
– Wayne Gretzky
Gretzky, the greatest ice hockey player ever, inadvertently revealed a thing or two about life, and a lot about business.
Don’t think people will leave excellent reviews for you just because they loved your latte or admired your decor. They may very well appreciate you as a company and all that you offer, but customers often don’t go out of their way to make that appreciation public.
Instead, just ask. Plain and simple. Even Amazon does it!
Send out timely reminders in the form of feedback or review requests to their inboxes. Request them to leave their feedback on your website (and make sure you include a working link to the reviews page). This could be in the form of a survey, a comment or a rating.
For those interested in in-depth research, you can opt for focus groups or interviews over the phone, Skype, or even in-person. You decide what would serve your purpose the best.
Phrase Your Request Carefully
Since every review you receive is a big deal, and not something you should count on happening again and again, you want to make the most of it. Be very clear about what you want to gain from that review and word your request accordingly to save both your and your customer’s time.
You can invite people to share their thoughts about their experience with you on your website, or you could ask them specific questions and encourage them to expand on them. If you are looking for specific feedback, make it very clear in the way you structure your request or the following feedback form.
Wink, Wink, Nudge, Nudge
Since you are asking somebody to spend their precious time penning a glorious review for you, it’s only fair if you gave them something in return for the effort.
Incentives also have the effect of turning a lukewarm inclination of doing something into proper action. If someone is genuinely happy with you and wouldn’t really mind saying as much on your website, sending across a feedback request with an incentive thrown in is very likely to produce a helpful review for you.
This incentive could be in the form of a voucher, a discount, a deal, a special one-day offer at the start of a sale, cash back, anything. Use your imagination and market intelligence to come up with something your satisfied customers would find it difficult to get out of their mind.
Remember that you can only incentivise customers to write reviews on your site. Third party sites like Yelp forbid incentivizing customers to write reviews for your business.
Sign Up with a Review Website
This is the easier and often more reliable way of gaining desirable customer reviews.
You sign up with a review website and they do all the work on your behalf. They contact your customers for you, encourage them to leave their feedback, mitigate negative reviews, influence consumer shopping behavior, and give you an improved presence on search engines.
Of course, you can do all of this yourself. But do keep in mind that this is serious work and requires time and commitment on your behalf, so that the important work of collecting reviews isn’t relegated to the backburner because you are dealing with urgent operational tasks every day. It’s always better to have a specialist solicit reviews so that you can hit the necessary numbers and frequency.
Encourage Them to Like You on Social Media
Composing a 140-character tweet is a lot easier than writing a 400-word review. The former is also more likely to materialize than the latter.
Why? Because people are already buying directly from social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram have all introduced their own “Buy” buttons for social and mobile. And ecommerce platforms like Shopify have followed suit, introducing features that allow direct purchase from social feeds.
Include links to your social media pages in order/delivery confirmation emails, allowing your satisfied customers to easily express their happiness with you on the platform of their choice.
It won’t take long and people are mostly already logged into their social media profiles anyway, further increasing the possibility of you receiving a flattering social media mention. These may not be as detailed as reviews on a website, but are still helpful since they are public acknowledgments of the efficacy of your products or services.
Professional service providers can get clients to recommend them on LinkedIn.
Do keep in mind, however, that if you don’t do a good job of satisfying your customers, your requests might be ill-timed and get you bashed up well and proper. So make sure that your communication with your customer follows a satisfactory customer experience.
Build a Community
Creating content aimed at removing typical pain points for your customers, or enhancing their life in any way, is guaranteed to bring you more visitors. If you are able to create a great community of people on your blog or a self-hosted forum, you will keep earning user encomiums along the way.
This is by no means an easy task, and requires loads of consistency, patience, and coordinated efforts from a team of marketers, social media specialists, content creators, moderators and community managers. It’s important you don’t let any questions go unanswered or open-ended comments languish. Set goals for the growth of the community and manage the platform like an ongoing project; you could use a project management tool such as Wrike to get team members to collaborate on customer support and content promotion tasks:
Win Them Over with Considerate Behavior
“If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.”
– Dale Carnegie
People who choose to spend their hard-earned money on your products and services trust you at a very high level. When you have people trusting you, you should never ever look at them as just another statistic.
Instead, value them – and the best way to do this is to know everything you can about your customers.
Okay, I realise that might sound a bit creepy but rest assured I’m not asking you to spy on them or anything like that.
But how about paying attention to their shopping history and offering them discounts on the items they usually buy?
An electronic retailer I usually buy my gadgets from sent me an email about an upcoming sale of Apple products. A beautifully done email, full of enticing images and deals, aimed at winning me over.
Ha! I forgot to mention I’m a Windows fan. I own a Wintel PC, a Surface Pro and a Windows phone, all bought from this same retailer.
What did they think I was going to do? Pour hundreds into an iPad just because it’s on sale? Probably not.
I’m more likely to think: “So what? Give me something I actually care about or don’t spam my inbox.” I’m also likely to be annoyed at this retailer for not even knowing my preferences after getting thousands of dollars in business out of me!
Don’t be like all the businesses out there who paint all their customers with the same brush. Instead, send out newsletters, emails, or offers that are actually pertinent to your shoppers’ preferences and their shopping history with you. You’d be surprised how often you will get a big heartfelt thank you from them in the form of a happy review!
Make It Easy for Them
There are many ways of obtaining customer reviews, but whichever you choose, make sure it’s easy for your customers to execute.
If you are requesting a review in an email, the link to your feedback form should work. Don’t ask them to log into their accounts, don’t ask them to enter their personal details all over again, don’t ask questions they need a PhD to understand, and by any means don’t use a CAPTCHA to determine if they are human!
People usually feel compelled to speak only when they are touched, either positively or negatively. And the former is far less common than the latter. Genuinely positive reviews come out of excellent service on your part, there’s no two ways about it. But while doing a great job is the first and the most important part of making sure you attract good reviews, it alone is not enough. You need to nudge people to put their experience with you in words. If you manage to get both parts of this equation right, you will earn plenty of good customer reviews to boost your business.