Online reviews have an impact on the buying process. We trust the words of strangers more than companies.
Gone are the days when everything written about your product or service online was produced by your organisation. Social media has introduced a new dimension for businesses and the review options that each platform brings with it can make a difference to the buying decisions of individuals online. Online reviews is a growing area that impacts business and is a key part of the online customer journey.
Reviews can mean the equivalent of a personal recommendation about a product or service to some people. Therefore online reviews can carry the same importance as a word of mouth endorsement. This works both ways too so a positive review can influence someone to buy just as a negative review can switch someone the other way.
It is important to acknowledge that even though reviews are usually written by strangers they are given credence and are trusted by the reader for the most part. Consumers are doing more research than ever before about products and services before they buy and these reviews matter. An accumulation of positive or good reviews can really help a business generate popularity on and offline.
How to encourage positive reviews
Getting people to leave a review may seem like the hardest battle as often people only get in touch with a business to complain. However there are things you can do as a business to encourage people to leave reviews after buying a product or service. Here are a few ways that could help:
Make it easy: when leaving a review people don’t want to have to work for it so making it easy to do on your website or social media is key. If you want a review in a specific place e.g. Facebook, Google or Yell, then let your customers know your preference and how they can do this – signpost them to it as far as possible so they don’t need to look for themselves.
Get the timing right: people are busy and on the whole don’t take time out to congratulate people when they’ve done their job, so asking for a review can seem intrusive. This is why timing is everything. If you know someone has used a product or service successfully and they are happy, then ask them for a review. If someone is re-ordering it may be opportune to ask for a review or if your business has been tagged on social media ask if they would mind also leaving a review.
Only ask once: Asking constantly for customers to leave reviews is likely to irritate some people so if you do ask directly only do it once – don’t chase or worse still ask if they’ve done it yet.
Things to avoid when seeking online reviews
Being overly keen for reviews can indicate a little desperation. Remember businesses survived and thrived before social media reviews so if your business is just getting started try not to panic that you don’t have many – if you offer a good service they will come over time. Avoid things like:
Asking family to add a review: Family and friends may use your services and if they do and leave a review then great. However, asking family members and friends to leave a random review may leave it seeming hollow to genuine customers. Building a review profile isn’t just about quantity so don’t be tempted to ramp up figures this way.
Being held to ransom: If something goes wrong with a customer order they may be a little disgruntled about it. However, this isn’t reason to be held to ransom for the sake of a review that’s good or bad. As long as you can do everything in your power to rectify what has gone wrong then that is all you can do. If they do go ahead and leave a negative review then respond courteously and explain things from your point of view in a balanced way. Customers reading reviews will soon pick up on patterns so if you only have one bad review it is less likely to make an impact than several, especially if you acknowledge that something has gone wrong.
How to manage fake reviews
Unfortunately fake reviews are all part and parcel of social media and being online. Many sites may automatically remove fake reviews that don’t pass their algorithm checks. There are usually ways that you can report fake reviews too through third party sites.
Encouraging people to use their real name and details is usually good practice, as is to get them to use their own photographs using the product or service.
Those on the receiving end of a bad review should not be downhearted. Responding to the review positively, outlining how you tried to help rectify any problems should give anyone reading the reassurance that you care about customer feedback and getting things right. The more positive reviews you have the more this will outweigh any negativity and give your business a helping hand in the right direction.