Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
More and more, consumers and corporations are viewing online reviews before they make a purchase. If you are not actively seeking positive reviews, you are missing the boat, (even if your business happens to sell boats).
Never lack feedback
According to Trustpilot, 90% of people will check an online review before making a decision. Nearly 50% of consumers consider positive reviews as one of their top 3 decision factors.
A business professor once me: “There is no such thing as negative feedback.” After years in the corporate world, I realized that feedback itself might be negative—but to the recipient, it doesn’t matter. If someone takes the time to leave a comment, good or bad, it is precious information. That’s why it’s important to show them to your website, and it can be easily done with Google customer reviews widget.
Related: Learn the HR Skills You Need When Your Business Grows
Many businesses believe that simply informing buyers of a particular product or service is enough. Customers want first-hand knowledge from someone who has ALREADY purchased the product. Reviews have an incredible impact on the credibility of a company. Good reviews gain customer trust and encourage interaction with the company. Amazingly, products that have reviews are 270% more likely to be purchased than a product without, according to a study done by Speigel Research Centre. The study also showed that reviews were most sought after for expensive and “riskier” items.
1. Buyers read an average of 10 reviews before they buy from a business
- Businesses that rank high in Google’s local search engine have an average of 47 reviews
- 60% of consumers look at social media and blog reviews on their devices before shopping
- 72% of customers read reviews before making any buying decisions
2. Very few customers refuse to trust reviews
- 73% say that written reviews are more desirable than star or number ratings
- 35% say that just one negative review can influence them to avoid a purchase
- Only 8% say that if you don’t have any reviews, they don’t care. That means the other 92% DO care!
Corralling the critic
Now that we’ve established that reviews are important, how do you go about getting them?
Many people stick with Google; however, their changing algorithms can sometimes make getting consistent ratings elusive. You would do well to set up profiles on other sites, like Facebook, Yelp, or a site more in line with your specific demographic. Having reviews from multiple sites establishes that you are a reputable business. Here is a list of the top review sites. There are LOTS of different review sites, and you shouldn’t try to hit them all, but you SHOULD choose the top 3 to 5 sites that you feel would be most beneficial and then focus your energies on those sites.
Related: 8 Soft Skills That Make You an Even Better Leader
Ask or ye shall never receive
I know that probably sounds too easy, but it really CAN be that easy. At one of my storefronts, I used to engage customers in conversation as we were winding up the sale. Part of the conversation always included asking them questions about their satisfaction with our service and our products. We would politely explain that reviews from customers like them was critical to our business and then ask them to leave a review. Not everyone left one, but many did, and all we had to do was ask.
One thing to remember is that there IS a right way and a wrong way to solicit satisfaction. You should never bribe customers with a discount or reward for leaving a review. This can easily backfire and turn off customers. Some strategy goes into asking for reviews but generally, just being upfront and honest is the most effective way to do it.
When you actively try to make customers happy and then ask those customers to leave a review, the vast majority of those reviews will be positive.
As I mentioned above, I was in the habit of asking for reviews. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but once I made it part of my daily process, it became second nature. Businesses that are successful at consistently getting top reviews (4-5 stars) have a process to involve everyone in the organization asking for reviews. That means the entire team needs to understand the importance of getting reviews. Once that happens, the number of positive reviews will increase.
When the entire enterprise understands and buys into the need for reviews, they are much more invested in making sure customers have a good experience. When you know that you will be asking your customer for a review, you are much more likely to ensure that they will want to leave a GOOD review.
Remember earlier when I said not to incentivize customers for leaving a review? The opposite is true for your staff: Offer a bonus or other incentives for employees that receive good reviews. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but recognizing team members who consistently get good reviews will motivate them to do the same.
An effective profile on Facebook, Yelp, Google, or any other platform requires fresh material. Getting a bunch of initial reviews and then nothing after that looks fake and contrived, and many review sites filter out those kinds of profiles.
Make it an easy delivery
People have a short attention span. The window for receiving a good review is short, so you need to make leaving a review quick and easy. If you ask for a review and then make it difficult to do so, you will be left with bad reviews. We all know that a scorned customer will go out of their way to make it known. They will be willing to take the time to leave their bad review, and those willing to leave a good one will give up.
If you hope to get a good review on Facebook, for example, make sure you have a sign up asking for the review with the name of your Facebook Profile and then make sure your profile has the review button easily seen as soon as a customer visits the profile. If you do digital marketing, make sure you include a link for them to leave a review.
Related: Shift Your Culture or Risk Employee Burn Out
Navigating the negative
You can’t please everyone. You will inevitably get some reviews that aren’t great. Some might even be terrible.
Own it! Don’t hide or excuse those bad reviews. One of the best things you can do is be honest and humble. If you believe that “the customer is always right,” then responding to those reviews with kindness and a desire to make things right is probably the best approach for you. If, however, you are the type of person who gets defensive, then responding to negative reviews isn’t the best idea. This can lead to hard feelings on both sides and is counter-productive.
Nothing will offset your bad reviews better than a constant flow of good ones, so focus on what you can do to get positive reviews and let the rest go.
Your reputation as a quality organization, and your ability to foster trust will establish an ongoing, loyal relationship with your customers. Pacified patrons keep coming back over and over and ensure the ongoing success of your business. You can do much to establish a good relationship with those you serve, and as you do so, positive reviews will be a natural outgrowth of that association. Feedback is a gift, and reviews provide a valuable source of feedback. Paying attention to that feedback will help you improve your business areas that need it and highlight the things you are doing right. Most importantly, it will garner trust with your customers, and that is what will bring them back time and again.