In highly competitive markets, businesses need to do everything they can to stand out. One way to do this is by leveraging customer reviews.
Customer reviews are a powerful tool that can make or break a business, as they help provide social proof and have a major influence on consumer decision-making.
According to a report by PowerReviews, 99% of customers read reviews when they shop online, and 84% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Positive reviews, in particular, can boost a business's reputation, increase trust and credibility, and even improve search engine rankings leading to increased sales.
Great customer reviews can serve as a form of free advertising, as satisfied customers can act as brand ambassadors and encourage others to give the business a try.
While negative reviews are never desired, they’re also not the worst thing to happen to your business if addressed correctly.
In fact, the lack of negative reviews could be a red flag to customers. The same PowerReviews study found that 96% of customers look for negative reviews specifically.
Negative customer reviews can be beneficial when they provide your business with valuable feedback and insights into areas that may need improvement.
Additionally, responding to negative reviews can help demonstrate to potential customers that your brand is willing to listen to feedback and take action to improve.
Brands need to view both positive and negative reviews as opportunities to grow and improve rather than solely as a reflection of their success or failure.
Here are some ways to encourage more reviews from your customers:
Make It Easy for Customers to Leave a Review
The easier it is for customers to leave a review, the more likely they are to do so. Provide clear instructions on where and how to leave a review, and consider using platforms that customers are already familiar with, like Yelp, Google, or TripAdvisor. Consider including a link to leave a review in follow-up emails or on your website.
Be Where Your Customers Are
The best way to get honest feedback is to show you’re listening. Make your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts easily accessible from your website so customers can reach out with comments and questions. If there are specific review sites for your industry, make sure you’re actively monitoring them so you don’t miss any opportunities.
Incentivize Customers to Leave a Review
While you can't offer incentives for positive reviews, you can offer a small incentive for leaving a review in general, regardless of whether it's positive or negative. This could be in the form of a discount on their next purchase or entry into a contest.
Engage With Those Leaving a Review
Whether you notice a glowing review, or a scathing one, it’s in your best interest to engage with it. This helps show viewers of the review that you’re listening and (hopefully) acting on what you read. It also encourages more reviews because customers don’t want to feel like they’re talking to the wall, if they know you’re listening they’ll be more likely to share their thoughts.
Give Your Customers a Reason to Review You.
Whether it’s a reminder email, a personalized thank you note, or creative packaging, it’s important to demonstrate that you care what your customers have to say about your brand, products, and services.
Reach Out at the Right Time
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, When Is the Best Time to Ask Customers for a Review?, the authors conducted experiments to determine if when a company reaches out to a customer for a review would have an impact on whether a review will be given – and if it would be positive.
Like many marketers, the researchers assumed that the earlier you ask for a review the better, since customers are probably less likely to post a review for a product or service as time passes.
The results of their study, however, showed that immediate reminders actually lowered the likelihood that customers would post a review, and reminders sent 13 days later increased the likelihood.
Now, does this mean that 13 days is the magic number? Not necessarily. But it does mean that you should be more thoughtful in your approach to sending out reminders for reviews.
Depending on the product or service being reviewed, you need to factor in how long a customer needs to experience it and form an opinion.
Additionally, depending on your audience, you will want to examine your current average review time to understand when a reminder is appropriate. This is important because a reminder sent immediately or too soon runs the risk of irritating your customer and either discouraging them from writing a review or that the tone of the review is influenced by what’s perceived as your “pushy” request for one.
Your customers utilize a wide range of sources before they make a purchase decision. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to actively seek and encourage customer reviews, as they can make or break a business's success.