Ways to encourage rave online reviews
Google has played a significant role in changing the customer journey. New advances continue to alter how your prospects search for—and select — the businesses they’ll ultimately buy from. One of the latest ways Google is influencing your prospects is through the prominent display of business reviews, like this search for ‘furniture stores near Frankfort, IL.’
It’s not just Google and it’s not just furniture stores. Third party review sites like Yelp! have exploded in popularity and expanded to all types of businesses. And with Facebook—an inextricable part of daily (if not hourly!) life for most consumers—showcasing reviews, you might as well hang your star rating over the door of your business.
As much as we wish this wasn’t true, unhappy customers are four times more likely to leave a bad review than their happy counterparts are to leave a good one. Not all hope is lost though; happy consumers are more than 4.5 times more likely to leave a good review if sent an email that asks about their experience and invites a review in the days after their purchase. But you’ll have to do so consistently to get meaningful results.
According to “The Power of Reviews” survey, of consumers asked to write a review post-purchase, only three to 10% will do so. That means to earn five new reviews, you will likely have to solicit 100 or more customers. The effort is worth it! Industry-specific research shows bumping your average ranking from just three to four starts can more than double the number of prospects willing to shop with you.
So, how do you get your delighted customers to fire up their computers, smartphones or tablets and take the time to share their experience? According to RE:MARKET — New digital techniques independent retailers can use now to compete better, grow faster, and work smarter written by the founders of Retailer Web Services and released at the MEGA Spring Convention, here are sure-fire ways to see more stars:
- Ask! There’s no way around this; if you want more reviews from happy customers, you have to ask for them.
- Be honest. When soliciting reviews, you want to know whether your business did a good job serving your customers and you want happy customers to share their experiences. So be truthful and start by asking how you did. And if you did well, then explain that it would mean so much to you if they shared their experience by writing an online review.
- Recognize special opportunities. Any time a customer compliments your store or an employee—whether by email, phone or in person—thank them and share how much you’d appreciate it if they left the same feedback in an online review forum or on social media.
- Make the process easy and fast. While, you don’t have control over how third-party websites collect feedback, you can make some parts easy for your customers. For example: include clickable links in your solicitation emails; add review links in every day communications such as your email signature; create in-store signage or a handout that explains how to leave a review; implement solicitation software that automates the process and takes customers directly to your store’s primary review site.
- Avoid incorporating loyalty or incentive components. It can be tempting to offer something in return for leaving a review. While some could argue there’s a way to stay on the right side of the line between encouraging reviews and buying or bartering for them, we advise avoiding the line altogether. Provide exceptional service and be honest about why you’re asking for online reviews. You won’t need to come up with incentives or loyalty programs to earn them.
Once you accept your customers have a human-nature, hard-wired preference for complaining over praising, it’s easier to understand why it’s worth putting time and effort into developing the latter. As with all aspects of your reputation management program, soliciting reviews from your customers requires a commitment to creating a system and sticking with it to ensure more stars in the long run.