It's a widely recognised fact that 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation*. Below we detail ways in which you can develop a strategy for harnessing customer reviews to help create a positive impact on your business.**
Think carefully about how you are going to collect them. Clearly your own customer survey is one way to go, but just how convincing is this? One way of adding credibility is to use trusted third party sites, such as feefo, yelp, google or trustpilot. My own opinion is that using these sites adds a level of credibility that you just can't replicate with your own surveys. Trust has to be the most important factor, otherwise there's just no point in including the review at all, and to build that trust you need independent validation. There are also sector specific sites, such as tripadvisor, AITO Reviews or holiday watchdog, for several industries. It is worth keeping an eye on these review sites, monitoring their popularity and setting up company profiles on the main ones.
Make collecting reviews an intrinsic part of your Marketing plan. We can be very coy about asking people for help, but there is a way of inviting positive feedback which doesn't need to seem gratuitous. There is also something in the very act of asking people for feedback which implies a confidence in your performance and makes people feel like their experience has been important to you. Often the request itself may sit outside Marketing. Educate people in Customer Service or Sales to elicit reviews from people who have had a positive experience. The process of customer reviews needs to be something embedded in the organisation as a whole. Make it easy for people to leave feedback - include links and think carefully about your profile on these external review sites.
Give them a reason to give you a review (N.B. there can't be an incentive for a positive review, rather the act of writing a review itself). Some companies choose to provide a financial reward (such as money off your next purchase) others use the incentive itself to promote their brand positioning and company ethos (a charitable donation or green initiative perhaps). It's amazing to see the effect a simple reward can have on people's inclination to take the time to give feedback on a company. Also don't forget to thank them for taking the time to give you a review.
Make the most of the reviews once you have them. If you're receiving wonderful feedback then take the time to shout about it: feature the reviews on your own website, not just hidden on a 'customer testimonial' area, but on your homepage and relevant switching pages, where prospective clients will be seeking reassurance about their decision. Including third party logos to demonstrate the legitimacy of these reviews is crucial here. Also remember to include in your Social Media channels.
Act on the reviews you receive. Remember, people post not just to educate other customers, but to see their opinions acted upon. Perhaps you're doing something wonderfully well, or someone in customer service is receiving the most amazing feedback, show that you are acting on the information you receive and broadcast what you've done. It could be a bunch of flowers for the person providing excellent levels of service, a bonus day's holiday or perhaps involve them with training programmes to educate others on what they do so well.
** we aren't ignoring the potential for negative reviews, however for the purpose of brevity we will focus on this topic in a later post.