So you’ve worked hard on your customer experience. You think your customers are happy with the service you’ve provided. That’s great! But wouldn’t you rather KNOW that they were happy? Wouldn’t you rather everyone knew? There are plenty of options for online reviews and the best part is that you don’t need to spend money to get a visible online review platform for your business.

Facebook has a review feature, Google reviews is extremely visible and fairly comprehensive, and LinkedIn recommendations are also totally free. You could also opt for well-known sites like Feefo and Trustpilot, which offer a free service but also have paid options to unlock more comprehensive features. There are even industry-specific offerings depending on what your business is.

The benefits of having great customer reviews are numerous:

  • Help you grow brand awareness
  • Improve your search engine results
  • Enable you to learn and improve
  • Give your customers a way to say thanks
  • Help build trust in your business through social proof
  • Win more business if you use them in the right ways

In fact, if you aren’t using customer reviews as part of your marketing strategy, then you’re potentially missing out on an excellent way to generate more business! Feefo states that you could increase conversion by as much as 330 percent with the use of strategically-placed reviews.

So why do some businesses avoid asking for reviews all together?

Often it comes down to a concern for the customer and the perception that asking them to leave a review for your business will offend them, upset them, or even ruin the excellent experience that they just had. The reality is that most happy customers enjoy being able to give something back and there are several reasons that customers love to leave reviews.

Altruism – you’ve probably heard the term ‘sharing is caring’ – this applies to customer reviews. If a consumer has benefited from a great experience then they are often driven to help other consumers share that same great experience. Leaving a review enables them to spread the word.

Giving thanks – it can sometimes be easier to grumble about an experience than to say thank you. When we enjoy an experience, we want to be able to thank someone in a meaningful way, and leaving an online review in a public webspace where not only their manager will see, but you know for sure the employee themselves will hear that feedback is a great motivation for leaving reviews.

Consider your own daily interactions; think back to the last time you had a fantastic experience and how you felt. If the service was next-level, then in a restaurant or hair salon you might leave a tip to show your appreciation. In other industries tips don’t always exist. Often customers would love to speak to that employee’s manager to pass on that they have enjoyed their experience and to make sure the employee gets the credit they deserve. That is sometimes easier said than done with complex contact strategies, chatbots, and long IVR messages asking you to identify yourself as a category that doesn’t apply because all you want to do is speak to a real person.

So now we know that customers quite like to give feedback – here are some top tips for encouraging reviews that strengthen trust and loyalty in your brand, and help you to generate more sales:

1. Make it as easy as possible

Imagine if it was easier? Would more customers say thank you? Speak to anyone about a great service experience and they will likely tell you they meant to leave feedback. Often though life gets in the way – there isn’t always an urgent drive to leave the positive feedback in quite the same way as there might be to leave negative, and so by the time we get to our computer we simply forget.

Time passes and we have other great experiences and that review never makes it online – despite our best intentions. Make it as easy and convenient as possible for your customers to leave you a review, send them the link, and gently follow up to remind them a couple of days later.

2. Raise awareness early on in their relationship with you

If customers know that you will likely ask them for feedback later on in the process, and they know how important reviews are to you, they will be far more likely to find the time to leave you one. It’s always a great idea to draw attention to your reviews as part of the onboarding process, let your customer know that they can reach out to you at any time if they have questions, and give them a link to read other reviews. When you then ask if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review later down the line, your customer understands why and where they should do so.

3. Make the most of the independent review sites available

Customers are far more likely to trust a review left on an independent review site that they know has certain checks, measures, and security in place to verify the review as genuine than they are to believe one that you have on your website. Smaller businesses can benefit hugely from LinkedIn recommendations, Facebook, or Google reviews whilst they grow, and once you have enough customers to generate larger review volumes then sites such as Feefo and Trustpilot can be a great option.

4. Turn feedback into reviews

There are some great options on the market to ensure that when a customer leaves you glowing feedback, they are also prompted to leave you a review. This makes it easier for the customer as they are already sat at their computer or on their phone, and they are provided with the direct link to leave feedback. It will lead to an increase in reviews, and you can still action the tangible feedback to help you shape your customer journey.

5. Utilise reviews in all your marketing

Now we know that it’s possible to achieve a significant uplift by strategically placing independent customer reviews in the sales process, it’s important we do so. Link from your website to independent reviews, print them in your brochures, or attach them to email signatures. It’s an amazing way to reassure your customers that they made a good choice, that you will look after them, and that they are in good company – others enjoyed their experience too!

6. Make sure that the integrity of your reviews is never in any doubt

We’ve all heard the horror stories about fake reviews, teams who get their friends and family to write a review, businesses who promise 1,000 reviews all for one low monthly figure. There was even one man who managed to get his garden shed to be the top rated restaurant on Trip advisor! With the rise in awareness that reviews may not always be all they seem it’s never been more important to make sure your reviews are always, without exception, genuine. Go the extra mile to make sure this is the case and verify the authenticity of the review yourself against a customer record. Don’t allow friends or family to leave reviews even if they have experienced your service, it’s just too much of a risk to take.

On sites like Trustpilot you can report a review you don’t think came from a genuine customer so make the most of that feature and report any review that you can’t absolutely prove to be real. It may mean you lose the odd five-star review, but having a robust verification system in place will ensure the integrity of your reviews can be trusted – which is critical in today’s consumer market.

So there you have it! Reviews are a great way to let your customers say thank you, to offer them a meaningful way to feed back, and can help you grow your business. It’s a genuine win-win!

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