When it comes to running a profitable business, customer reviews are a key part of success.
Unsurprisingly, increasing the number of reviews is likely to boost sales. This is because positive reviews and even just the reassurance that others have bought the product will persuade other customers to buy the product as well.
In today’s market, when hundreds, sometimes even thousands of similar products are available to easily purchase online, reviews can make the difference between a customer buying your product and buying that of a competitor.
Increasing the number of customer reviews could also have positive effects in ways that aren’t initially clear. For example, they could help the businesses to meet other, unrelated KPIs, such as an improved profit margin or a greater percentage of market share.
However, it’s not always easy to increase the number of customer reviews, and it can be a process that requires a touch of overtime work. However, with a touch of perseverance, elbow grease, and a fair bit of luck, you’ll see dramatic improvements.
Below you will find nine actionable ways to encourage customer reviews, which can be implemented as part of your company review strategy.
1. Add extra value – make them want to review
The best way to facilitate reviews is to encourage customers to do it naturally.
Consider the reasons why people leave negative reviews. Often, they’re surprised by a negative aspect of the product and want to share their frustrations.
Likewise, if people are impressed by the product, then they’ll be motivated to post a review. So, focus on improving the product and its appeal, using focus groups and continuous improvement.
Another way to add value is to send a small gift with the product as a token of your appreciation. This will encourage positive feelings from the customer, who will hopefully be more likely to leave a review.
According to research from TrustPilot, customers are more likely to write a review when something has struck an emotional chord with them. The way that the product is packaged, the communication you have with the customer, and their perception of getting a good deal will all contribute to creating an emotional attachment.
You can try many different things to add this value and conduct an analysis of which method garners the most reviews.
2. Ask them!
Sometimes it’s more than just providing a good product. Perhaps you’d expect that, given the opportunity, customers would be anxious to share their opinion about a product. This isn’t always true. For the majority of people, life can be quite busy. Most potential reviewers need a gentle nudge in the right direction. Asking them is simple; a simple email will do.
So, who should you ask for a review? Finding this out may involve just a few minutes of research. Details of customers can be found in your CRM system, or even by asking employees directly.
It’s best not to do this too early in the client onboarding process. Give the customer a chance to get to know the product and the company first.
The best customers to ask are repeat customers, as they have shown that they enjoy using the product. Customer service employees, who may have good relationships with customers that they talk to regularly, will be able to recommend customers to give reviews.
How you ask for the review will depend on the customer and your relationship.
You might wish to start with an open-ended question about their experience, asking if there’s anything that could be improved upon. Closer relationships between employees and repeat customers may instead warrant a direct request for a review. This is something that will need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
3. Ask them again
Giving customers a quick reminder will often prompt them to leave reviews when they may have forgotten.
There are so many ways to ask, as well. As the below graph shows, the most popular ways seem to be in person and via email, but over the phone and using SMS seem to also be frequently used.
Try a different method of communication the second time around, if possible. It could increase your chances of success in reaching the customer. Maybe they don’t check their email that often and missed your request.
Contacting them in a different way will also catch their attention. They may receive hundreds of emails every day, but using a varied communication strategy will keep your request fresh in their mind if it comes through as an SMS message instead, for example.
You can connect all of these communication methods using IP telephony.
If we had to define telephony, it would be described as any communication related to the telephone network, including video calls, conferences, and text messages.
Internet protocol (IP) telephony, meanwhile, is when all of these separate forms of telephony are connected.
This will help with the organization of your review requests.
4. Provide incentives
It’s great to encourage reviews and reward customers at the same time. Although it’s certainly not right to pay for reviews, incentivizing customer reviews is considered to be very different. Just ensure that potential customers are aware of the nature of the review when you post it.
So, what could these incentives be? Well, the below graphic shows the results of a review of over 10,000 consumers in 2020. These are the things that motivate customers to write reviews.
Customers will likely be keen to accept an incentive when it comes to reviews. And, because they’ll feel like they’re getting a great deal out of it, they might just be more likely to leave a positive review.
5. Reduce friction
Drop off, or abandonment, is when customers leave a webpage or other environment when they are part-way through the conversion process. It can apply to leaving a review. The fewer the steps, the lower the drop-off rate for customers. Some customers give up when things take too long, or the process is too complicated.
Make it as easy as possible for customers to provide reviews. Customers will be more likely to leave reviews if they find the process simple. Providing an opportunity for them to give a short review will get rid of all the barriers and make things easy.
Perhaps you could invite them to give a one- or two-word review over the phone, either to a customer service representative, or using interactive voice response (see: IVR meaning). Alternatively, you could use a 1-to-5 star meter in an email that can just be clicked once to register their opinion.
6. Go to them
Better yet, go to where they are to get their reviews! Meet the customer at their chosen place. Ask them when’s a good time for them, and via which communication method. Then, get their review when on their own terms.
Many customers will be flattered that you’re giving them the opportunity to provide their opinion, at a time that fits in with them, and might even be prepared to offer more detail than they otherwise would.
To allow these customers greater flexibility, you might be wondering what is SIP trunking? SIP trunking allows you to connect your office’s telephone to a cloud-based phone system.
Allowing customers to be adaptable in the way that they give reviews will not only result in a higher volume of reviews but also a greater quality. Customers will be sweetened up and grateful that you’re taking the time to consider their schedules.
7. Respond to reviews
Responding to reviews can increase the future number of reviews.
This is because review responses provide a level of understanding and comfort to reviewers, whether this be a thoughtful thanks to a positive review or a resolution of a negative review.
Many potential reviewers are looking for an opportunity to be heard, reassured, or for things to be made right. If they see that a company never responds to reviews, they might therefore see the process as useless.
When customers see that reviews are responded to in a helpful way, they will be much more likely to post their own reviews.
The above graph demonstrates various review responses.
To reduce work admin for employees, you could even use bots to help your staff to leave responses, in a process known as robotic process automation (RPA). However, unlike with other easily repeated tasks, there is a lot at stake here, and mediocre RPA could lead to negative PR. Therefore, it ideally shouldn’t be used until you have reached RPA maturity.
8. Have multiple review points
These days, there are so many different portals for reviews, and every customer has a favorite one. Whether it’s Google, Yelp, Amazon, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Foursquare – there are so many opportunities for reviews to be posted. If a customer has an account set up with a particular review platform and sees that your business is there, they may see leaving a review as a convenient option.
Make sure that if a customer wants to post a review to a certain platform, then they have the opportunity to do so.
Advertise your presence on these sites appropriately, using your website, or working with search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your Google rankings for each one.
You will then have the opportunity to import these reviews to your website. This can even be done when gathering data for ecommerce analytics. It’s as simple as that.
9. Integrate reviews into your business
Reviews should be a part of everyday business processes; something that all staff members are aware of and included in the process.
This should particularly be integrated into the customer service department, which should be empowered to ask for reviews from customers at the right times in the buying process. They will need to be agile in their approach, as not every customer will be receptive to a request at all times. This may require some targeted training in the form of call reviews, for example.
The power of reviews shouldn’t be underestimated. Consider installing a Reviews Officer or even a team inside the customer service department to deal with reviews, both positive and negative. PR training will help staff to understand how to attract and co-ordinate reviews.
The most important thing to remember
All these suggestions will help you to improve your review acquisition strategy. There are a finite number of ways to encourage reviews but used in unison, these techniques are more likely to be successful when applied intelligently and sensitively.
The most important thing is to maintain positive relationships with customers. This is something that should be instilled within the culture of the company, particularly within the scope of customer-facing roles.
This will not only keep customers coming back, but is also the method of gaining reviews which is most likely to be successful.
Repeat customers are arguably the most important human asset for a business. Take care of the clients, and they’ll take care of you, in the form of loyalty, positive reviews, and repeated custom.
Apart from providing great reviews, repeat and loyal customers are a great source of profit and are more likely to recommend the product to their friends.
Almost 65% of a customer’s business is estimated to come from repeat customers. These connections are very important, and if nurtured carefully, will ensure the health of your business for years to come – and beyond.