Consumers trust objective reviews from their peers more than they trust advertising material. No surprise there—according to the 2012 Consumer Review Survey, up to 72 percent of respondents said they trusted online reviews almost as much as they trust personal recommendations. In the local sphere, 52 percent of users were more likely to use a local business after reading positive online reviews. But how do you go about getting clients to provide reviews and how can you make sure they’re positive?
Tip #1: Make it easy for them to provide a review. Add a “give feedback” button to your website, so users don’t have to look for a way and wonder how to do so. Make it brief and simple—a 5-point questionnaire perhaps, with an option for a final comment. Allow it to publish directly to your site, so you have the credibility that you aren’t “hiding” any bad reviews. Make sure you state upfront that reviews may be used for marketing purposes, so users who provide comments don’t come back afterward asking why you used their name in your promotions.
Tip #2: Respond to reviews. People love to know they’ve been heard and customers will be more likely to post a review if they can see you’ve responded to former reviews. Say “thank you” for good reviews and respond calmly and publicly to bad reviews, offering to connect and resolve the problem. Resist the urge to get defensive—apologize for the user’s bad experience and once it’s resolved, ask the reviewer to acknowledge online that it has been sorted out.
Tip #3: Offer incentives for reviews. No, you can’t reward people for positive reviews, but you can encourage them subtly to provide any reviews. Restaurants do it all the time—after you pay your bill, your receipt shows where to go online to complete a survey or leave a review and by doing so you’re automatically entered into a lucky draw or receive a discount for your next visit.
Tip #4: Ask your followers on social media to share their experiences with others. A study by Bazaarvoice shows that 90 percent of consumers who wrote reviews did it to be helpful to others. Satisfied customers do it because they are happy to oblige and you can bet unhappy ones will be only too quick to do so. If any are really offensive or damaging, you can ultimately remove them but addressing them publicly is the cornerstone of online reputation management.
The bottom line? Getting positive customer reviews will boost your business, while getting negative ones gives you an opportunity to showcase your customer service skills. Either way, you win!