Are online reviews really worth all the fuss? We say yes!

Cast your mind back to the last time you purchased something based on a recommendation or online review. It could be as simple as what to order for lunch at your local cafe or something more substantial like which schools to consider for your children’s education. These choices vary in their complexity, however on each occasion the recommendation would have swayed your decision, even if in the slightest way.

We often ask for online reviews in a somewhat shameless attempt to win more business. This is normal and a somewhat valid component of most online marketing plans. We all compete for attention online and a review might just win us our next client. But let’s not lose sight of the REAL value of a review.

Why should we be focusing on collecting online reviews?

We all know that it takes more time, effort and dollars to win a completely new customer. An existing customer however, has already experienced your offerings and assuming you do a good job, is likely to return. They will essentially contact you to place an order. How cool is that?! But what if they could become even more connected to our business? What if you could further increase the likelihood of them returning and at the same time allow future customers to benefit from their recommendations.

We are of course talking about customer advocacy. When you ask a customer to review or provide a testimonial for your business, they are essentially proclaiming with a big stamp of approval that you are a brand that they personally stand behind. This means they are now invested in your success. It’s something that you should certainly not take for granted and something to be proud of… So don’t forget to personally thank them in return.

But what’s the ‘REAL’ value?

Is there something else behind this? We haven’t gotten to the REAL value. When executed correctly, an online review process is also an amazing (and systematic) way to keep your finger on the pulse of your business. Instead of just asking for a star rating and testimonial, you can get quite specific. You can ask key questions important to your business or even explore areas that you feel may need some improvement.

An example question could be, “On a scale of 0 to 5 (0 being poor, 5 being amazing), how do you feel we communicated with you during your project?”. This question clearly addresses if your business needs to work on its communication or not.

By ensuring we are at the very minimum, matching our customers expectations, we are guaranteeing the growth of our business.

So how can you install this in your business?

It’s not as complex as you may think. It does rely on having a process in place to make sure you continue to request, collect and share your reviews.

Here’s our top tips.

Tip 1: Approach

How your business delivers its offering will determine the most efficient way to collect your reviews. Consider the interaction points.

  • Does your customer visit a specific location?
  • Does your customer receive a product or service?
  • Do you solve the problem immediately or a few weeks down the road?

Consider how your customers spend most of their time. What method of collection will best suit your customers and increase the chances of them taking the time to provide feedback or a review? Pick a direction and stick to it long enough to collect data and measure the impact. You can always tweak your direction to test some alternatives.

Tip 2: Timing

The moment someone buys and you’ve just delivered your solution is the single best time to ask for a review. Your customer will be at the peak of their experience and offer the clearest insight into their experience. The emotion attached to the purchase will reduce with time so be sure to strike while the iron is hot.

If your offering has a delay in when it actually solves your customer’s problem, schedule an email or phone call to check in at the relevant time. An example of this could be an online training course or an experience that is booked for a time in the future.

Tip 3: Process

Aim to make each step as simple as possible for your customer. Clunky and time consuming tasks are often ignored. Always test the process to check for potential hurdles.

With store/face to face transactions, preparing your receipts/invoice with either a QR code or link for the customer to access is a great idea. From there you can simply point it out to your customer and ask them to complete. You can use this process for onsite installs/services.

When shipping parcels you’ll be able to include your review request into a follow up email with a link. There are plenty of automations that take the headache out of scheduling these tasks. Consider adding a ‘with compliments’ slip or similar with a hand written note, you’ll be amazed at the impact a personal touch can make.

Tip 4: Negative reviews

Sooner or later we’ll all encounter a negative online review. How we deal with it has a flow-on effect beyond the person who actually left the review. Approaching negative reviews with an open mind allows you to correct a customer’s experience. Onlookers will get an understanding of the value you place on customer service. A few key points to remember:

  • Acknowledge that they have had a bad experience.
  • Encourage them to contact you offline (include your email or phone number).
  • Demonstrate that their experience is not a typical one and that you are willing to work with them to resolve it where possible.
  • Be sure to follow the rules detailed by the platform your review has appeared on. Click here for the Google My Business rules.

Essentially you want to demonstrate that you genuinely care about your customers level of satisfaction and are willing to take the appropriate steps to remedy a negative experience.

By running through these 4 tips, you are setting yourself up to receive some solid feedback and to also attract new customers.

How to automate your review process?

When you first start inviting your customers to review your business, it’s usually a clunky process with lots of steps that can see valuable reviews slip through the cracks. We automated the review process with Smart Reviews. Reach out to learn how our clients saving time and receiving a steady stream of quality reviews. 

Written by Chris Paradowski

Chris has a diverse background in business management. Having worked in highly competitive and process oriented industries, his ability to model, prototype and hypothesise is uncanny.

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