The internet has had a significant impact on how consumers conduct research on their potential suppliers. Word-of-mouth is often thought to be the best way to attract new customers, and this is certainly true as peer recommendations are powerful. However, this doesn't just refer to face-to-face conversations; online reviews have taken a sharp increase in how peer reviews are provided and used by potential customers.
According to the latest research, 88% of the population trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations from friends and family. Research has also shown that 90% of purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews.
When you deliver poor service to customers, each customer will tell between 9 and 15 others about their experience. About 13% of those unhappy customers will tell more than 20 people. This has become easier to do through the Internet, and one bad review can be read by hundreds or thousands of prospective clients.
Therefore, review management is an essential task for any business owner. How can your business generate online reviews? What can be done about negative reviews? And is it always important to get positive reviews? Here are the answers to those important questions.
How Can You Generate Online Reviews?
The first challenge for businesses is often generating the online reviews. Many businesses realize they need them, but don’t understand how they can encourage customers, past and present, to provide their opinions on the service they receive.
In fact, it is relatively easy. Email is one of the best ways to generate online reviews. You simply email those who have bought services or products from you previously and ask them to complete a review for you. To encourage more people to complete a review, you could offer the chance to win a prize, e.g. $100.
Alternatively, you could state that by receiving their opinion of your products/services you can provide a better service next time or resolve any issues they had.
The email could be set up so it is immediately delivered when their product has arrived, or after a set amount of time. Many email marketing providers, like MailChimp, offer this service.
Another option is to offer clients the chance to review your service with a letter or leaflet that arrives with their product. Finally, you can call the buyer to ask them to leave a review on your site. This can be fairly effective as it creates a personal bond between your brand and the consumer – making it harder for them to reject your request for a review.
Should You Buy Reviews?
Because reviews are often worth their weight in gold, business owners sometimes contemplate buying reviews. This is easily done as numerous online businesses offer this service. The cost can be as little as $1 per review and with 10 or 20 reviews bought at a time, the perceived popularity of a brand can skyrocket overnight.
However, fake reviews, as they are often called, have several negative aspects. In 2015, Amazon sued over 1,000 people who left fake reviews on their site. It also constantly looks for reviews that have been bought because they generally have certain elements in common, such as:
• They are short (under 100 words).
• They contain no specifics about the product.
• They contain excessive positive language.
• There is no emotion in the review.
• Overuse of keywords.
• Overuse of punctuation.
• Too many reviews in a short period of time.
This not a complete list and some clever fake review providers can bypass this. That said, online review sites can detect when users are providing fake reviews. Yelp is one such business, and if it detects you, it can mark your business as ‘not recommended’ to other users of the site.
Of course, you can’t always guarantee when people will provide you with a review. In fact, it can take several attempts to get one customer to provide their review.
Should You Always Have Positive Reviews?
When you look at generating online reviews, you’ll be aiming for five stars. However, you shouldn’t solely focus on generating five-star reviews. If you have ten or twenty, five-star reviews, it can look just as fake as if you had bought them.
Therefore, having people who review your business at four or three stars is acceptable. There are also important lessons contained within those reviews. For instance, you can see if they felt your service or product needed improvement. Did they think it was too expensive? Or did customer services take too long to get back to them? If you get this information from your reviewers, you can adjust your processes and make improvements.
What To Do If You Have A Negative Review
We can’t always make everyone happy and we can’t change that. Someone will make a purchase and regret it because what they perceived your service/product to be was different to what they received. You can reduce the chance of this happening by being upfront about the deliverables and controlling customer expectations – but there will always be some who don’t get the message.
When this happens, it can be frustrating. Research has shown that negative reviews are more powerful than positive ones, but that doesn’t mean your reputation is damaged. Instead, you should look at responding to the client and asking them to contact you privately.
After that, you should try to resolve the problems they have. Even giving them a small token of apology could smooth over the relationship. Some companies will provide 10% off, or refund an order because it is a cost effective way to generate loyalty from a customer.
But you have to be quick. Many customers expect a negative review to be responded to within one or two hours on social media and within 24 hours on other platforms. Responding fast will help you generate more positive feelings for your brand in the long term and help make it easier to resell to your customers.
With these tools in hand, you can generate real reviews that will help you sell more of your products. Remember it isn’t just about the generating the reviews, but it is how you use them and respond to them that will promote your business as well.
Do you struggle to generate online reviews? What are your tips for generating online reviews? Let us know in the comments or contact a member of the Ragain Financial Team with your thoughts.
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