Your company’s best sales reps aren’t your employees — they’re your existing customers?!
While the trend in customer trust in businesses is fading, we know, thanks to our friends at HubSpot Research, that consumers trust recommendations – especially from recognizable sources, like their friends and family – over any type of online marketing and advertising. And in the absence of trusted recommendations, according to BrightLocal, 85% of consumers trust online reviews are much as personal recommendations — the single most trustworthy and credible source of “advertising” out there. Additionally, they found that 60% of consumers believed customer reviews were either trustworthy or very trustworthy.
What does that mean for your business?
That you can/should begin accumulating positive reviews because those create yet another opportunity to encourage a customer to buy from you! Follow this quick and easy guide (which we ourselves follow!) to collecting positive online reviews and handling negative ones with grace.
Get Your Timing Right
Basically, this comes down treading the line between not asking too early and not asking too late. Too early and your customer may not have got the full benefits of your product or service and may simply not have an opinion on it yet; too late and that initial sense of impressiveness you incited may have faded.
Don’t be shy but do be timely. Satisfied customers are usually more than happy to help you out with this… of the 74% of customers who were asked to provide feedback, 68% were willing to do it.
Make it easy to leave reviews. This might sound like an obvious one but it’s amazing how many businesses fail to make it at all obvious how to leave a review. Your website and social media accounts should actively be showing users how to leave positive by linking directly to your preferred reviews platform (Google My Business is highly recommended).
To obtain your unique Google My Business review link: start by adding your business name to a Google search bar, the result should look like the image to the left (if you have not yet claimed your Google My Business account, follow these prompts) and click on the review button. That will produce a blank review page; the link associated while the review pop-up is on your screen is the URL you’re looking for.
You can now share that link with your customers to give them a one-step review process – it doesn’t get much easier!
Respond to every review — even negative ones. Nobody’s perfect, and mistakes sometimes happen that result in a customer leaving a scathing one-star review on your website, on Facebook, or Google Business Page.
Most of our clients are independent business owners or operate community-focused non-profits, so not only are they passionate about what they do, it’s part of the fabric of their being. Having a personal reaction to bad reviews shows how passionate you are about your organization and that’s truly great to see. Unfortunately, in the world of business online, there is not much one can do to stop negative comments from being posted in public forums, especially if you are aiming to also gather positive ones.
When you get a one-star review, though, make sure to take the time to respond thoughtfully, without being defensive, to come to a resolution. It’s the right thing to do if you work in customer service, and it could actually help your business in the long run.
Harvard Business Review found that businesses responding to negative reviews online actually resulted in better ratings overall. Your customers are human beings too, and the value of empathetic and compassionate customer service strikes a chord and actually leads to an uptick in total reviews, particularly positive ones.
By creating opportunities to ask for reviews in a personal way, like by emailing them directly to find out how the product or service you provide treated them hyperlinked directly to a review page, and by creating the conditions where customers are more likely to leave positive reviews, you’ll consistently find you are creating more value for your customers beyond just the products or services you sell. Feedback from your customers is your biggest selling tool – use it!