Few things are as valuable, or as damaging, as customer feedback. Reviews can truly make or break your business, with positive reviews driving in new customers and encouraging others to return and negative reviews accomplishing exactly the opposite.
As a business owner, dealing with reviews and other public feedback from customers can be a daunting experience.
However, with the correct approach, it’s possible to create a company culture that encourages positive feedback from your customers and empowers your business to make use of its earned publicity.
Below, financial business guru Neil Debenham touches on the importance and value of reviews from your customers before sharing four tips that you can use to turn your customers’ feedback into your business’s biggest, most valuable marketing asset.
Why customer reviews matter
In today’s business environment, customers have access to an unprecedented amount of data and information about the businesses with which they interact.
Because of this, reviews are more important than ever before. According to research from local business marketing company BrightLocal, 82 per cent of customers make use of online reviews to learn about local businesses.
Amongst younger customers, review use is even more prevalent. In the exact same survey, 52 per cent of consumers aged 18 to 54 reported that they “always” read reviews when looking for information about local businesses.
In short, your customers (and prospective customers) are already reading reviews about your business, whether you’re aware of it or not.
Since customer reviews are an unavoidable part of business, it’s important to treat them as an asset rather than a liability. This means creating a culture and systems that drive customers to reward your business with positive feedback.
How to get more customer reviews
Getting reviews from customers (and particularly positive reviews) can seem like an impossible task. However, it’s far easier than it first appears, especially once you take the right approach to the process. Try applying the techniques and tactics listed below to your business.
Make reviewing your business easy
One of the most common reasons many businesses fail to receive reviews from their customers is that they make the process difficult.
If a customer has to manually search for your business, click through several pages and create an account to provide feedback, the total percentage of customers that leave feedback for your business is going to be relatively small.
The key to fixing this is to make the process easy. If you run a local business, try adding a QR code or short URL to your brochures, business cards and other items that links to your chosen review platform. This way, customers needn’t work too hard to leave their feedback.
If you have an online business, try reaching out to your customers via email with a link to your preferred review website. Anything you can do to simplify the process will boost your response rate and produce more reviews for your business.
Offer a reward for your customers
While you should never reward your customers exclusively for positive reviews, offering some type of reward for any feedback — whether it’s positive or negative — is a great way to motivate your customers to write reviews.
Good rewards include vouchers and discounts, free samples or products, upgrades and loyalty deals. Sometimes, even a small reward can make your customers feel motivated to share their feelings about your business in a review.
Ask quickly to boost your response rate
You’ll get the highest quality, says Neil Debenham, and most detailed feedback when you ask customers to review your business shortly after their purchase or interaction.
During this period, the transaction is fresh in their memory and they’re more likely to remember the unique factors that make your business special. Whenever possible, reach out for a review right after the sale to elicit the most detailed, valuable feedback from your audience.
Thank customers after they review your business
Finally, it’s important that you reach out to your customers and thank them for writing a review of your business, even if they aren’t totally positive.
Responding to reviews does two things. First, it shows your customers that you appreciate their efforts. Second, in the event that a review isn’t positive, it gives you a chance to share your side of the story and, if appropriate, offer a chance to win back an unhappy customer.
Put simply, it pays to be friendly, personable and transparent. Treat your customers like friends and reach out to offer thanks when they provide their opinion of your business — over time, you may notice that this not only encourages positive feedback, but also returning customers.
Neil Debenham www.neildebenham.com