Creating a successful business involves multiple factors, including maintaining customer satisfaction. Sure, there will always be customers who have to try your product or service to know it’s not for them, but that’s not the same as having unhappy customers who expected more from your business. To generate satisfied customers, you need more than a good product — you need a strong, positive reputation. The fastest way to earn a positive reputation that brings in new customers is through online reviews.
Online reviews reveal more than just how a product lives up to its advertising promises. Reviews reveal how business owners and employees treat their customers. For instance, reviews can reveal how a business responds to refund requests and reports of defective products. New customers will probably feel repelled by a business that won’t issue refunds, while feeling drawn to businesses with “no questions asked” return policies.
When potential customers see a great company culture and positive customer interactions reflected in reviews, they’ll be more likely to make a purchase.
Consumers Are Easily Swayed by Online Reviews
Consumers need to be vigilant when shopping online, especially when they’re not familiar with a brand. What’s the first thing consumers do when they find a product from an unknown brand? They look at customer reviews on sites like Trustpilot, Amazon, and Yelp. According to research conducted by the Spiegel Research Centre, nearly 95 percent of consumers read reviews before buying a product or service.
While some review platforms strictly forbid asking customers for reviews in exchange for a product or service, there are ways to leverage reviews in your favor. In a guide to online reviews, Podium.com outlines several ways online reviews benefit your business:
1. Reviews support SEO.
While you’re gathering a steady stream of reviews online, you’re adding fresh content to the internet. On high-authority sites like Yelp, each review helps increase the chances of your brand being found by search engines.
2. Identify keywords used by your customers.
What words do people commonly use when talking about your product? You might find some important keywords in your reviews.
3. Highlight your positive reviews in outreach campaigns.
When you get stellar reviews, those are gold for your PR and outreach campaigns.
4. Treat customer reviews as feedback.
Reviews provide you with important feedback on your company, your employees, your policies, and your products/services. If a review is less than positive, consider it an opportunity to improve an area of your business.
5. Engage with customers.
Most review platforms allow business owners to respond to reviews. This is a critical part of resolution; done correctly, you can change people’s minds. For example, if a customer isn’t happy with your product and posts a negative review, engage him and ask what you can do to make things right.
You may need to provide a refund and let the customer keep the product or send an alternative product free of charge. Some companies handle extremely negative reviews by doubling the refund amount.
When you respond in a positive way to a negative review, some customers will rewrite their review to discuss the way you handled their dissatisfaction, despite being unhappy with the product. Your interaction will be visible to new customers and will contribute to your positive reputation.
Ask for Online Reviews Without Bribing
Don’t be afraid to ask customers for online reviews. However, make sure you don’t offer something of value in exchange and risk losing your listing. Even discount codes can get you in trouble. You can certainly send discount codes to people after they’ve written a review — you just can’t offer the code in exchange for a review.
Posting reviews on your own website is great, but those reviews aren’t given the same weight as reviews on independent sites. Aim to get reviews on trusted review sites like Amazon, Yelp, and Trustpilot. These sites already rank well within search engines, and some will indicate when a review is from a verified buyer.
Customers want more than product specs and promises; they want to read firsthand experiences. According to statistics from 2017, 91 percent of consumers are more likely to use a business with positive reviews. If you want to build a strong brand reputation, you need positive reviews that reflect not only happy customers, but also a willingness to engage with customers and address their concerns.