Displaying customer reviews on your website and having a system to request, monitor and respond to feedback can have big benefits. Yet, businesses are often afraid to ask for or respond to reviews. And all too often, they underestimate their value. So, we thought we’d share some key insights on customer reviews and offer a few strategies to help you harness their power.

Let’s start with why.

Reviews help people make decisions

The internet and mobile have changed our behavior. Instead of knocking on the door, we text when we arrive. Instead of writing a check, we click to pay. Well decisions are no different.

The internet and mobile phones have changed the way we make purchase decisions. Reading online customer reviews is now a big part of that process. People use them to evaluate brands and make better decisions about which product to purchase or service to select. And the research backs this up.

According to a 2018 survey by BrightLocal, 86 percent of people now read online reviews for local businesses, 91 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation and 80 percent of them have written reviews. When you couple that with the more than 331 million mobile phone subscribers in the US, it’s easy to see the significance. Electronic word of mouth is a formidable force and might soon be as ubiquitous as your mobile phone.

This means the word of mouth you used rely on for business is moving online too. And if you don’t engage the process and offer consumers a place to share their feedback or use customer reviews to help them evaluate your brand or make a purchase decision, you stand the chance of alienating them from your business.

Benefits in Search Ranking

Customer reviews help people make buying decisions because they increase trust by offering proof of the quality and experience customers can expect. And if managed properly, they can create actionable insights that fuel marketing and drive business your way.

Google’s local search algorithm uses information from third-party review sites like Facebook, TripAdvisor and Google My Business in their organic search rankings. But when you display the reviews on your website, you increase the amount of original content your site offers about your business. And this, in turn, can influence your relevance – a factor used in organic search rankings.   

But why stop with displaying third-party reviews on your website? Customer feedback on experience is valuable. Why not be proactive and ask your customers for it directly?

These are first-party reviews. And unlike reviews left on third-party sites, you own them. You can use them as a tool to measure loyalty and the quality of your customer relationships. You can display them as testimonials on your website. And you can mark them up with schema, the language the search engines use to read and understand content, to optimize your sites performance in search rankings and display star ratings on search results.

Strategies to drive engagement

We don’t manage what we don’t measure. So, it’s important to formalize your thinking around a process you can use to gauge customer experience and get more quality reviews. There are a number of digital tools available to help businesses in this space. And Folotrio offers a fully managed digital solution to help businesses engage the review process with agility. But whether you’re on a DIY budget or exploring an outsourced solution, the following five strategies are key to getting it right.

1. Deliver a wow experience

You won’t get five-star reviews from a two-star experience. Unfortunately, we are wired to share bad experiences. And we tend to take good experiences for granted reserving our shout outs for those moments when we are genuinely wowed. If you want to inspire customers to shout accolades from the rooftop, you are going to have to deliver a wow experience.

And if you don’t know if you are getting the customer experience right, or you are generating more negative reviews than positive, it’s important to understand why. And getting direct feedback from your customers is key here.

So, reach out and ask. You can do this in person, by text, by email, or you can create a form on your website and point customers in that direction. People will generally share what they like, what they don’t like and what could be improved if asked. If you listen to what they have to say, you will find what you need to improve their experience. And if you act on that new knowledge, you’ll make their experience one worth talking about.

2. Ask every customer for a review

Even if you have delivered a wow experience, your customer may not leave a review. So, it’s important to ask them for one. The vast majority of customers say they would leave a review for a business and 80 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds already have. So odds are in your favor if you make the request.

And there are so many ways to ask. You can email customers, send them a text message, or thank them for their business and hand them an iPad with a link to your Google My Business Review Form while you are finishing the job.

3. Respond to reviews

Show customers that you care. You asked them to spend a few minutes of their time to offer you feedback on their experience. They did. Now it’s only appropriate to thank them.

If the review is positive, celebrate your customer’s vibe, expand on information offered and respond to questions posed. You can also spotlight their good review by telling them how stoked you are to get a five-star rating! And if you can, personalize it. Using customer names or referring to other details about their experience lends social presence to the exchange.

If you receive a negative review, it is even more important that you respond. Your engagement shows your commitment to customers. It also shows prospective customers that you care. So engage these. View them as an opportunity. Research the issue, express your concern, share what you learned, offer a remedy if you can or share your perspective if you can’t.

And be sure you are monitoring for reviews daily. A swift response dazzles. Aim for one- to-three days and you’ll be golden.

4. Meet your customers where they are

Give your customers a variety of ways to share feedback with you. Select the sites they already use. Make it simple for them to access. And ask them to be a part of your story by sharing their experience with you.

The ideas are endless. But, here are a few:

  • Start by encouraging reviews by displaying them on a page on your website

  • Create a form on your website that allows customers to write a review directly

  • Create a link to your Google My Business Review Form (shorten it of course) and provide it to your customers so they can click to leave a review

  • Check your Facebook business page settings and make sure it allows recommendations and then be sure to monitor it

  • Ask your customer in person and be sure to hand them an iPad or tablet with direct access to the site

  • Add a URL, email address or phone number that directs customers to the online review form for your business and print it on your business cards, promotional flyers, and receipts

5. And remember, timing’s everything

Customers are more likely to respond to requests for feedback the closer they are in time to the experience. This is why having a process in place to ask customers for feedback is key. Ideally, you want to ask for feedback immediately after the experience. But you will not go wrong asking on a weekly or monthly basis.  

Bottomline

Customer reviews matter. They are the word of mouth of the mobile generation. Consumers use them as part of their decision-making process. And Google uses them as factors in determining the relevance and prominence of a business to give users the results that best match their search. So, there is a lot of potential upside to engaging customers in that space. The key is to formalize your thinking around a process you can use to ask your customers for feedback, listen and respond to it timely, and then display it on a page of your website with gratitude.

And remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint. Establish a steady process and stay with it. And your customer reviews will build naturally over time.  

Need additional guidance?

If you need help developing, monitoring and responding to customer reviews and feedback to improve your online reputation, get in touch so we can help you achieve that. We believe your customers are the best part of your story. Why leave them out?

Learn more: folotrio.com Seize the day: hello@folotrio.com.

References

Babić Rosario, A., Sotgiu, F., De Valck, K., & Bijmolt, T. H. (2016). The effect of electronic word of mouth on sales: A meta-analytic review of platform, product, and metric factors. Journal of Marketing Research, 53(3), 297-318.

Dai, H., Chan, C., & Mogilner, C. (2017). “Don’T Tell Me What to Do!” Shoppers Rely Less on Consumer Reviews For Experiential Than Material Purchases. ACR North American Advances.

BrightLocal. (2019). Local Consumer Review Survey | Online Reviews Statistics and Trends. Retrieved from: https://www.brightlocal.com/research/local-consumer-review-survey/

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