How to Use Customer Reviews to Your Advantage 01/04/2015 Tips & Advice The internet has given customers the ability to leave their thoughts on more platforms than ever before. It used to be the case that people would get the information they needed about the quality of a business through word of mouth. However, there are now several ways in which people can glean information and voice their opinions about a business. There are official review sites such as Feefo and Trustpilot, directories such as Yell and Yelp, and of course there is social media; Facebook even has its own review feature on business pages. Reviews have many benefits for businesses, from building consumer trust, brand advocacy and influencing sales. Reviews can also carry some to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) benefit too. With these benefits also come some sticky issues such as dealing with complaints and negative reviews effectively. This article will demonstrate why reviews are important, how you can use customers’ reviews to your advantage and, most important of all, how to turn a negative review into something positive. First of all, why do you need reviews? Reviews are an important part of doing business as they help to establish trust with your current and prospective customers. Building trust in today’s increasingly digital world can be difficult. This is particularly the case for businesses who solely sell goods online because people need to have faith in what you sell as they will not see the product until it arrives. This is where reviews are essential and the best way to gain this trust before purchase is through reviews. Obviously, people expect to see positive reviews on your website; after all, you wouldn’t publish a negative review on your site would you? So, to gain an unbiased view, potential customers look further afield for reviews. Consumers now rely on sites like Google Plus, Yelp and Trustpilot to see how others found your service and products and to help them decide whether they want to become a customer themselves. Consumers used to make purchasing decisions based on word of mouth recommendations, but now, according to a Brightlocal survey, 88% of people say that they trust a company with online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Reviews can also be handy when it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO). Reviews are indexed in search engines and appear in search results. They generally contain natural long-tail keywords which helps give your website a ranking boost for that term and the product’s main target keyword within the long-tail phrase. How to attract reviews from customers There are several ways that you can persuade customers to leave a review; the first being giving them an incentive. Incentivising reviews Generally people won’t do something for nothing; therefore offering them a reason to review your business will most likely result in more reviews being written. Some companies offer their customers a discount code in exchange for a review. Here’s an example from Schuh offering 15% off a next purchase if a review is written: This method also has the added benefit of convincing consumers to come back and make another purchase as they will want to use their discount code. Prize Draws Some brands and businesses also contact customers post-purchase with the incentive of being entered into a prize draw if they leave feedback. The prospect of getting a prize for just a few minutes of their time is appealing to customers and it’s likely that this approach will drive more reviews than a general request to leave feedback. Make leaving feedback an effortless task It is also important to make the process of leaving feedback as easy as possible. If someone wants to leave a glowing review of your product or service, but cannot figure out the rating system or cannot find the reviews section of your website because it is buried deep in the site, they probably won’t go out of their way to leave one. Make sure that you make it clear where they need to leave the review. You could partner with a website like Trustpilot to collect customer reviews. Not only does this make your operational process of generating reviews a lot easier, but it also shows customers that you’re sufficiently confident in your products and services for all comments to be made public on a third party website. As potential customers may be seeking out reviews from all over the web it is probably a good idea to set up multiple profiles on these multiple websites. Google+, Facebook, Twitter and sites that are devoted to solely reviews like Trip Advisor, Yahoo, Thompson Local, Yelp and local review sites are especially important as they can positively affect SEO 72% of people in the BrightLocal survey said that reading positive feedback would give them more confidence to place their trust in a local business. Email customers post-purchase Another method is emailing customers post-purchase. This way you are touching base with your customers once the transaction has been completed, helping to build a relationship with them, it also allows you to add a link to the place where you would like them to leave feedback. Lastly, respond to the reviews that are left. It will probably convince more customers to leave a review if they can see a brand engaging with them, a simple thank you goes a long way; however, the ones that are most important to respond to are the negative reviews. How to respond to negative reviews Negative reviews are often just ‘a part of life’ as a business, it is impossible to please everyone, especially if you are not a one man operation and you rely on others to represent your brand. After receiving a negative review you may think it is the end of the world, but instead of panicking or automatically deleting it you may want to think of the ways you can use it to your advantage. Bad reviews can crop up anywhere from Twitter to Trustpilot so it’s important that you are aware of all feedback left across your digital outlets and that you have a solid plan of action for responding to any negative feedback. According to Trust Pilot, 30% of consumers suspect foul-play when they can’t see any negative reviews. If you are tempted to delete your negative reviews then think about how that looks to the consumer; a squeaky clean slate looks more suspect than a couple of complaints about minor issues, and with 68% of consumers placing greater trust in companies that have good and bad reviews, it is definitely worth moving that cursor away from the delete button. Negative reviews should be part of your business’ customer retention strategy. When you receive a negative review make sure you respond in a timely manner, explain the reason behind the issue if there is one, but don’t make excuses and do offer a resolution to the problem. This helps build trust and shows that your business is willing to engage. It is also helpful to bear in mind that of those negative reviewers you reply to, 95% return as consumers and 1 in 5 become loyal customers. If you would like to invest more in your business’ online marketing and require a Business Cash Advance to get yourself more equipped, get in touch with Liberis today and we can discuss your options.