It is almost second nature today to head to review sites to read a few testimonials before making even the simplest of purchase decisions. Whether it’s to choose a Thai restaurant or select an air conditioning repairman, reading previous customer experiences enables you to make more informed decisions. Implementing customer product or service reviews on your own website and through review sites can help build your credibility and attract new customers.
Here are a few tips for securing and sharing user reviews:
Gauge Brand Perception
Before you begin reaching out for reviews, take time to listen to your customers and determine their current perception of your brand. You can gain feedback by monitoring online conversation, holding face-to-face conversations or sending an online survey. The feedback you receive can help you pinpoint areas to improve upon to ultimately receive positive reviews.
Engage Current Fans
Do you already know that some of your most loyal customers would rave about your company online? Or do you have an active Facebook page with engaged, vocal users? Ask for reviews through your business email signature, post a message on Facebook and Twitter or include a call-to-action in an email newsletter. While bribing customers to positively review your company is one of the biggest rules you can break, it is acceptable to incentivize them to share their honest feedback through reward coupons or a point system.
After you’ve received reviews, it’s important to follow up and respond. Replying will show customers that you are listening and want to hear their feedback. In the case that you receive a negative review, find a way to help fix the problem to grow your reputation. Take the conversation to email, by providing a customer help email address in the follow-up comment.
Create a Presence on Review Sites
While Yelp, Google Places, CitySearch and Angie’s List are all very popular and trusted review sites, it’s also essential to establish a presence on review sites that are specific to your company’s industry. Create a robust profile with images and videos (if possible), update it regularly and reply to positive and negative reviews. All of these review sites will have some SEO benefits (especially Google Places) and by creating a presence on these sites, you can achieve higher visibility in search among competitors.
Make it Accessible
Ensure that customers can access reviews and submit their own from any mobile device or tablet. Also consider including an old-fashioned “comments” box with comment cards if your company has a physical location. A simple statement at the bottom of the comment card, asking reviewers to confirm that you can share their comment online will enable you to reprint the review on your website.
Activate User Profiles
Requiring reviewers to create a user profile adds a little time to the overall reviewing process, but will keep reviewers from posting anonymous reviews with potentially scathing commentary.
It’s more realistic when companies have a mix of positive and negative reviews on their sites. While it’s not pleasant for a business owner to receive a negative review, showing a balance of comments will lead to enhanced credibility. As you focus on all of these key ways to generate reviews, good and bad, remember to never post fake reviews. Consumers are adept at deciphering when a review sounds too good to be true. Instead of writing fake or planted reviews, respond quickly and transparently to negative reviews showing that you will try to fix the problem.
Partner with Review Generators
As a time-strapped business owner, sometimes partnering with a review generator can help automate the process by sending follow-up emails and coupons on your behalf. Companies such as Best Local Reviews can help you generate referrals, request reviews and identify potentially unhappy customers.
Ultimately, offering customers the best personal service, superb products and positive experiences will lead to the reviews you want. Share that you value their opinions and online reviews and experiment with different ways to direct customers to review sites.