In today’s increasingly cynical society, customer reviews have become more influential than ever. From Which? and Trustpilot to TripAdvisor and Amazon, online reviews can persuade potential customers to trust a brand and make a purchase. As a result, obtaining and publicising reviews is increasingly vital for any online business.
Listed below are some of the ways companies can assemble a portfolio of positive reviews and glowing testimonials:
- Ask in person. A polite verbal request for a review is by far the most effective mechanism for acquiring reviews, though some online businesses don’t enjoy this degree of client interaction.
- Follow up sales or service with a feedback form. Ditch long submissions in favour of a simple form asking for a customer’s name and the product/service purchased. Request a star rating or mark out of ten, a headline and a brief (optional) review.
- Email signatures. It’s a fairly crude technique, but adding a “Review us” URL into an email signature can encourage people to add their comments. However, this does prevent any screening processes that could be used with the previous suggestions.
- Create a dedicated web page. If customers can see where their comments are going to end up, they might be more likely to add a review of their own. Ideally, any searches for the company name and “review” should list this page within the top ranking results.
- Invite people to post reviews on dedicated review sites. Ciao, Reviews and Tipped are some of the most popular online reviews portals in the UK. They filter out spam and junk comments, often with navigation filters that can identify certain types of review.
- Harness social media. A Facebook profile is a great place to receive online reviews, and some small businesses rely on these in lieu of websites. Twitter is popular for customer service, though its 140-character limit constrains the length of the comments.
- Use LinkedIn. Debate rages over whether or not LinkedIn is a social media platform. This world-leading business communications tool features testimonials, which tend to be well written and fair. LinkedIn pages also appear high up in search engine results.
- Offer incentives. It’s not cheating to offer customers a discount or bonus in exchange for taking the time to write a short review. They might need an incentive to set finger to keyboard, regardless of whether their comments are positive or negative.
Having acquired online reviews, it’s crucial to harness them effectively. Once reviews reach triple figures, it’s possible to calculate customer satisfaction percentage scores and use this data in marketing materials. Satisfied clients can be tempted back with discounts or incentives, assuming they’ve consented to future contact. A dedicated Reviews or Testimonials web page provides a forum for feedback, while posting selected comments on social media reflects a commitment to getting things right. Don’t get carried away editing people’s statements, though – try to keep them in context, and don’t publish one good sentence from an otherwise negative or critical review.
Finally, don’t be afraid of negative testimonials, since audiences often disregard complaints that aren’t relevant to their particular concerns. Even a strongly critical analysis can become a positive brand advert when it’s handled correctly. Resolving an issue through social media or a comments page provides an enduring illustration of a company’s commitment to customer service, along with a willingness to resolve any issues that might arise. Allied to a clear returns policy, evidence of troubleshooting and dispute resolution can reassure prospective customers they’ll be in safe hands. It will also encourage the original reviewer to provide repeat custom.