Do you know how important online reviews are for your business?
Here’s what stats have to say about them:
- 92% of consumers read reviews, whether occasionally or regularly.
- 88% of consumers trust reviews, as much as the recommendations they get from friends and family.
- 40% of consumers have developed an opinion about a product or brand after reading 1 to 3 online reviews.
- An average consumer at least reads ten reviews to gain trust in any brand or product.
As you can see, a larger part of your online success rests on the reviews you get. It would help if you had a strategy around this.
Getting online reviews is easy when you’re in the restaurant and hospitality industry. But tough when you’re in any other industry.
You need a well-calculated and detailed review system to win this game.
Online Reviews Influence Decisions
Online reviews influence consumer decisions in a big way.
When planning a vacation, we visit TripAdvisor. Yelp to find a new restaurant. And Zocdoc when searching for a medical doctor.
Review systems are standard with online marketplaces, including Amazon and Airbnb.
On a broader scale, a staggering number of corporate organisations are now maintaining review systems to help customers understand their offerings better.
A review system serves both the buyer and seller. A trustworthy system inspires confidence. It’s what gives consumers the confidence to buy a relatively new product or a product they have never heard of before.
In most cases, consumers will be willing to let go of their fears and buy something they know nothing about, provided it’s reviewed positively or enjoys a higher rating online.
We’ll be providing a step by step guide (that, if followed to the letter) will see to it that your profile brims with five-star reviews. But before we get into that, here’s a list of things you shouldn’t even think of attempting when working on your online reviews.
5 Bad Review Generating Practises to Avoid
- Writing Fake Reviews: Lots of businesses cook up reviews. We don’t advocate for it for several reasons. First, it eats into your credibility. You might get caught, and once that happens, you’re bound to have a hard time getting your customers to trust you. Secondly, it’s not sustainable. How far do you think you can go with this ruse? How many fake reviews can you generate?
- Paying a Third-party to Generate Fake Reviews for You: You only need a strategy to generate reviews — one that positions your business where it can naturally attract these reviews. You’re not to pay anyone for these reviews unless you’re paying them for marketing and not to generate the reviews. Once review sites find out that you’re generating fake reviews, they’ll completely ban your site from ever creating a profile with them.
- Getting so Many Reviews in a Short Period: Getting hundreds of reviews in a day or two will arouse suspicion. You want to make sure yours is an ongoing strategy and not a one-time strategy. If the reviews are real, then everything should feel like a slow and steady process.
- Don’t Leave a Negative Review to Competing Businesses: No bad competition. You’re not to leave a bad review to competing businesses, no matter what. Google doesn’t expressly state the penalty for someone who does this. But we’re confident; if they happen to find out, you’ll certainly pay for it. Plus, your competitors may find out about it – and the last thing you want is to brew bad blood with any of them. So, keep it professional, and use your competitors’ success as a motivation to work even harder.
- Don’t Motivate or Offer any Incentive for Someone to Review Your Product or Brand Positively: A review should be an honest opinion about what someone feels about your product or brand. It should not be coerced or enticed but come from a place of total honesty. Let your customers review your product from the experience they’ve had with it. Don’t offer any form of kickback. You can remind your customers to review your product or work, but they must do it on a whim.
Not everyone who reviews your product or service is going to have something positive to say about it. Those dissatisfied by your products or service will complain about it, while some are just hard to impress.
Many businesses fear negative reviews. But when handled right, negative reviews can have a positive impact on your business.
What You Should Know About Negative Reviews
It’s impossible to only live in a world of 5-star experiences. So, why do so many businesses still shy off from negative reviews?
Here’s what you should know about negative reviews:
- A negative review doesn’t mean your business is terrible.
- A poor review might actually benefit your business
- There’s a way to handle negative reviews and mitigate their impact (we’ll share some techniques on managing them).
- The most effective way to compact bad reviews? Bury them in more good ones.
A negative review may taint your reputation. But not everyone sees them that way.
It’s only an issue when there are so many of them or worse) when they outweigh positive ones.
Why Are Bad Reviews Good for Business?
Having a couple of bad reviews on your profile isn’t exactly bad for business. There are ways your business might benefit from them.
They Make Positive Reviews Look More Authentic
Negative reviews shed a positive light on good reviews. When a business displays both negative and positive reviews, it shows they’re transparent and have nothing to hide. Consumers are more likely to trust your reviews when it’s a mixture of positive and negative feedback. They understand that some brands fake their reviews online. And when they see a business with only 5-star reviews, they take it as a red flag.
Bad Reviews Help Consumers Make the Right Decision
It’s not just about you and your business. To succeed in business, you have to care about your customers genuinely. Your concern should be on what’s best for them. Bad reviews paint the real picture of what customers should expect after buying your products or services. They help them cultivate realistic expectations. Remember that customers don’t write bad reviews because they dislike your product or services, but because it didn’t meet their expectations.
Bad Reviews are an Excellent Opportunity to Build Trust
Bad reviews shout the most. They’re attention-grabbing and more likely to be read than positive ones. When customers see one, they’ll not just be looking to find what a fellow customer has to say about your products or services. Most of the time, they’ll be looking for what the business has to say about the criticism. Any attempt to respond to a negative review shows how proactive you are and your determination to address your customers’ problems.
Bad Reviews Still Work with SEO
Google doesn’t dig into reviews to find out if they’re positive or negative. A negative review will still impact your SEO positively. And did you know that reviews account for about 15% of Google’s ranking factors? Negative reviews might also contain the keywords that you’re looking to rank for. By not publishing them, you’re missing out on the opportunity to drive organic traffic to your website or product listing.
Bad Reviews Offer You a Chance to Improve Your Business
If most of your customers review your brand or product negatively, then perhaps it would be better to take a step back and think about your business and the products or services you’re offering.
If your products are substandard, then don’t expect your customers to be all praise about it. Reviews can be a critical source of useful insights, the insights you need to improve your products and services and handle your customers better.
How to Manage Bad Reviews
Bad reviews are inevitable.
They’ll come. No matter how good your products or services are or how carefully you run your business.
They’re not to be ignored. Instead, here’s how you react to them:
- Don’t Panic: Negative reviews aren’t that bad. If handled right, they can be beneficial to your brand. So, instead of panicking, you should be glad that someone genuine wrote something you’re your business or products.
- Publish them: Never delete any negative reviews on your site or profile. Resist the urge to remove them. There’s no harm in letting your prospects know that there are a few unhappy customers. Posting negative reviews also proves that you’ve got nothing to hide.
- Respond to them Publicly: Don’t drag a dissatisfied customer to a private conversation. Instead, sort out their issue where everyone can see. It’s been proven, businesses that respond to negative reviews tend to have excellent customer retention. Such companies are also more likely to see a significant lift in their revenue.
- Learn from the negative reviews: Go through all the negative reviews and see what you can learn from them. The best way to stop negative reviews is to nip them by the source by addressing all the core issues.
- Do Some Follow-Ups: When a customer expresses dissatisfaction, make an effort to follow them up, and solve their issue. They’ll be grateful for caring and ultimately remember that one positive shopping experience. Some might even retract their statement.
- Bury them in More Good Reviews: It’s all a number game. For every negative review you get, you should be prepared to attract at least ten positive ones. Instead of worrying about one negative review, work with a percentage, and always make sure your number of positive reviews don’t drop past a certain percentage. Anything above 90% should work great with you.
The Three Types of Negative Reviews
Not all negative reviews are the same. They’re each motivated by a different experience or customer preference.
But broadly, they all fall under the following three categories:
A Customer Doesn’t Like Your Product
This type of customer review can be hard to deal with. There’s little you can do to a customer who doesn’t like your product other than offering them an alternative. For example, let’s say the customer was hoping for a fragrant-free product. You can’t convince them to settle for what you have. A discount might sweeten the deal. But it’s always best to just offer a refund, unless otherwise.
A Customer Encountered a Problem with Your Customer Support or Delivery Team
A customer may like your product but have a problem with your delivery unit or customer support team. What do you do?
This is an easy issue to solve. And if handled right, you might even convince the customer to return for more orders. You can offer them a discount. Better, offer them an alternative number of someone they can talk to and ensure they won’t face the same issue again.
A Customer Disagrees with Your Store Policies
Sadly, customers don’t bother reading store policies. For example, let’s say you made it clear in your store policies that for a customer to be fully refunded for an order they’re returning, they must make sure they’re returning the product within a specified time window.
Of course, a customer who hadn’t read your policies will be disappointed when they find out that they can’t return an order they disliked. The best way to respond to this is to remind the customer of your policies and ask them to contact your customer service department to see if something can be done. There has to be a middle ground.
Generally, this is how you respond to a negative review:
- You begin by issuing an apology
- Follow it up with a statement showing your commitment to customer satisfaction.
- Lead the conversation offline to sort it out.
As you can see, negative reviews aren’t that bad. They can help your business in so many ways, provided you handle them right.
The easiest way to combat them is to work on attracting so many positive reviews. The general rule of thumb is that for every negative review you attract, make sure it’s buried in at least ten positive ones.
8 Ways to Avoid Bad Reviews
While negative reviews are almost inevitable, you can still avoid or minimise them.
Here are eight critical tips on how to avoid bad reviews:
- Follow Up Your Customers After they have Made a Purchase: Your business with a customer doesn’t end when they receive the product they had ordered. You should learn to show some concern. Be sure to follow up on them and make sure everything went as planned. The point is to identify the problem early on and nip it before it graduates into a complaint.
- Make Complaining Easy: Build a culture where complaints are welcomed with a smile. This should be encouraged at every level of your organisation, starting with the cashier all the way to the president. Be sure to train your staff not to act defensive when a customer comes to them with a complaint and instead offer to solve them to the best of their capabilities.
- Place the Complaint Form where Everyone Can Easily see it: Don’t hide the complaint form. Instead, place it where everyone can see it. This not only allows dissatisfied customers to file their complaints. It also shows potential customers that you’re willing to listen to their plight – and that should anything go wrong, you’ll be there to listen to them and offer them a solution.
- Follow Every Compliant that You Receive: Do not sleep on the complaints that you receive. Instead, act immediately. Don’t make a customer wait for your return call. Just reach back immediately and let them know that you’re in the process of providing them with a solution.
- Respond to All Reviews, Negative and Positive Alike: Responding to a positive review is easy. A simple “thank you, we’re looking forward to seeing you again” is enough.
Once an issue is resolved on negative reviews, go back to the review and let the world know that you reached an amicable solution and that everyone is now happy. Some of the customers will even retract their statement and post a positive review.
- Extend a Camaraderie to Your Local Competitors: There’s fair competition, and then there’s a bad one. You might be all about fair competition, but you don’t know about the business you’re rivalling with. But if you’re on speaking terms with them, there’s a fair chance that you won’t fall prey to their puerile spam review attacks.
- Track Every Complaint and Make Sure It’s Resolve: Don’t assume anything. Every complaint filed by a customer must be resolved and closed. It’s easy to get confused and forget some. So, how about you assign a tracking code to each of them, which you can later use to track it and make sure it’s resolved.
- Complain directly to the CEO: You can create another form where the customer is allowed to complain directly to the CEO. Not to bluff – you should send this complaint directly to the company’s CEO to drill it down and try to determine what happened and why it happened. The CEO must then reach back with an email or snail mail explaining everything and what he’s done to solve the issue.
The CEO may even offer them a discount on future transactions.
11 Strategies to Encourage Positive Customer Reviews for Your Brand or Products
Customers understand what reviews mean to you and your business. And when they’re happy, they’ll gladly review your company or product without even waiting for you to ask them to.
Here are some interesting stats on this:
In a recent Bright Local survey, out of the 74% of the customers asked to provide some feedback, 68% gladly proceeded to do it.
What does this show?
A happy customer won’t shy off from doing you a favour. So, it makes sense to ask them directly if they can leave a review.
You don’t just ask any random customer that places an order with you to review your product or business. You have to wait for the right moment when they’re most happy and willing to spare a minute or two and provide some feedback.
Come to think about it: asking a customer to review you when they’re not ready for it may only trigger them to write some nasty stuff about your business.
Here’re a few right moments to ask a customer to review you:
- After they’ve tried out your product and experienced success with it
- When they’re re-ordering the product or making a second purchase
- When they tag your brand or product in their social media post
- After they’ve bought a product and are back to check for more products on your site — you can catch them when they’re randomly browsing for more products.
- After they refer another customer
These are just but a few of the right moments to reach out to a customer for a review.
Alternatively, you can send them an email after a few days, weeks, or even months asking them to consider giving feedback. Make sure they know that that simple act of kindness could benefit a long list of other buyers.
Make them a Regular Part of Your Business
Don’t ask for reviews when you’re only in the mood for it. Instead, make it a natural process of managing your business.
Here are a few ways to ask for reviews at scale:
- Train your staff to ask for feedback or reviews after every successful project
- You can incorporate reviews in your email marketing program. Automate them to be sent to your customers after getting to a particular stage of your sales funnel.
- You can use NPS to identity your happy customers at scale. They’re your natural promoters. After that, you want to deploy a service team to foster a relationship with them.
- Make sure your review links are everywhere. Finding them shouldn’t be another hassle for your customers. Include the review link in the checkout page, thank you page, and any other most visited place on your website.
Ask the Customer to Review You
Whenever you find yourself having a conversation with a customer you’ve ever served or delivered a product to, just ask them in person to review your business or product.
This works when you have developed a close relationship with some of the customers. If a customer tells you that they have had success with your product or service, thank them for their feedback and loyalty and after that, tell them that you’d appreciate it if they posted the feedback on one of your review sites.
Leverage Moment of Happy Customers
When you complete a client’s project, and they like it, or when you’ve just made a major breakthrough for them, those are the moments of customers’ happiness.
Ever received praises from a customer?
During these moments, customers tend to be more inclined to review your product and pamper you with all the praises they can come up with. That’s how you effortlessly get them to leave behind a positive review.
Don’t Ask Directly for the Reviews; Instead, Begin by Throwing in an Open-ended Question
Don’t ask for the reviews directly.
Instead, try to initiate a conversation – in which case, an open-ended question could make an excellent opener.
Here are a few examples of open-ended questions you may ask:
- How well do you like my products?
- Planning for a re-purchase or re-order?
- How have your interactions with our customer support team been?
The point is to start a conversation that you can use to gauge their reaction or level of satisfaction before you can go ahead and ask them to review your products or business.
Why should you Do this?
- It helps to source helpful feedback
- It also helps prevent the awkwardness of asking for feedback before the customer has even started using use the product.
The point is to use open-ended questions to get your customers to review your products and sneakily make sure they’re happy before asking them to submit the review.
You can even pose the open-ended question in the email subject line. Most of the answers that customers give will be in the form of a review.
Reduce the Friction
The process of leaving a review behind should be as smooth as possible. If your customers encounter any form of hardships, then the chances are good that they’ll leave without reviewing you.
You want to make sure everything is easy and intuitive for them, and here are a few ideas on how to go about it:
- Include options so that your customers can choose a platform that they’re most comfortable with. Make sure you’re signed up with all the review platforms out there. Be sure to include a review or testimonial section on your site.
- Give them a prompt or an idea of what they can write.
E.g., “you can talk about your experience with our product, customer support, or our business in general.”
“We welcome your feedback on our product, business, and customer support. Tell us about your experience with our product or any of our departments.”
Assure them That It Won’t Take Much of Their Time
The biggest source of friction when a customer reviews your products or services is time. Many customers will be reluctant to leave feedback when they feel like they do not have the time.
So, how about you reassure them that it will only take a minute or two.
You can pre-emptively address this particular hurdle. Use this trick to get them to change their thinking.
For example, write this simple statement as a side note, “it should only take a minute to write a review or leave feedback. We promise not to take much of your time.’
Make Sure You Can Be Found on Any Imaginable Customer Review Site Out There
Before a potential customer even makes it to your site to find out more about your business or product, you want to make sure they can find you no matter where they decide to conduct their research.
Third-party Review Sites to Create a Profile
Here are a few third-party review sites you want to make sure you’re signed up on:
Make sure you’re registered on Yelp, especially if you’re from the US. If your site is relatively old, then there’s a way to claim it. Just add it if it’s new.
Claim your Facebook business page. You want to make sure your customers can find you on Facebook without necessarily leaving the platform.
Facebook enjoys a high level of responsiveness. For this, it’s critical to make sure there’s someone to monitor incoming responses and optimise them for new customer acquisition.
Get listed on the world’s largest search engine, Google. If you haven’t already, claim your business using Google My Business. That way, when people search for directions or search for your products on Google, you’ll be among the local search results that show up.
Remember also to claim your business on Amazon.
Amazon has a lot of search results that it serves. So, you want to make sure your Amazon page profile tells your brand story precisely as it is on websites about us or bio. When customers find your brand when browsing through Amazon, they should see all your page detail, reviews, and testimonials.
- Better Business Bureau
This only works for businesses in the US, Canada, and Mexico. It’s a highly trusted source of customer reviews.
Optimise Your Content
Provided you have a profile on the various customer review sites; the reviews should come in unsolicited.
However, you also want to capitalise on the people that visit your site. You want to make it easy for them to leave feedback.
You can do this by optimising your social profiles, blog posts, and emails to make it easy and quick for your customers to write a review.
So, how do you do this:
- By setting up badges that quickly redirect your site visitors to third-party review sites
- Optimise your website for mobile so that those browsing your site via their mobile device can easily navigate through it. You want to create a better online experience and give them more reason to leave a positive review.
- When asking your customer to leave a review, keep it short.
Time is the most valuable asset your customer has.
Your customers won’t review you unless you give them a reason to.
Offer them a coupon code, discount, gift card, or cold hard cash. Make it clear that the incentive isn’t for leaving behind a positive review, but for their time.
Plus, they’re still getting incentivized whether they leave a positive review or a negative one.
Go to Your Customers, Instead of Directing them to You
Don’t ask a customer to review you on Yelp. Instead, meet them there and make them write the review.
You should be on all these platforms. More importantly, it’s your job to make sure your request matches the platform that your customers are on.
If it’s Facebook, then send the request via Facebook messenger. The same applies to the customers on Yelp and those on Amazon.