Annual Local Consumer Review Survey by BrightLocal sheds light on the following:
- 88% of shoppers trust online reviews just like they value personal recommendations
- Excellent reviews of a business make customer spend 33% more
- 72% trust a local business if it has positive reviews
- 72% shoppers take action after coming across a positive review
- 86% refuse to buy a product or service of a business with negative reviews
It is no secret that a business ought to have a good reputation in market in order to compete. With the advent of internet and social media, it is easier than ever before to gauge the reputation of a business, by simply checking it out on Google on Facebook!
“Welcome to a new era of marketing and service in which your brand is defined by those who experience it” says Brian Solis, business analyst and social media expert.
For small businesses, it could well be a cause of celebration. Even if your brand is relatively unknown, reviews can level the playing field between you and the big boys.
Reviews can be:
- Testimonials on your website
- Facebook reviews on your Facebook page
- LinkedIn recommendations
- YouTube video testimonials
- Google business page reviews
- Reviews on niche review sites such as Hungrygowhere
- Reviews In local search directories
Notice that reviews need not be on 3rd party sites. Review websites such as Tripadvisor& Facebook allows you to embed reviews and testimonials of your business on your own website.
Even if there isn’t a 3rd party review website in your industry(usually B2B), you can create your own reviews and testimonials and host it on your own site! The key is to make it convincing.
So, now for the big question…
How to get customer to provide testimonial?
Businesses have already started to realise the importance of reviews and are encouraging their customers to leave a review of their products and services. But your customers are not always readily giving their opinion and feedback. Now what? You can try few of these ways to get reviews from your customers.
The earlier the better
In accordance with the bird-in-the-hand theory, you might want to try getting a testimonial when you reach a milestone, or when you attain small wins along the way instead of waiting until the end of the project. You don’t know what kind of situation may pop out that can jeopardize your grand plan of getting testimonial down the road. The sooner you get it, the better. Whats more, you can always have a new testimonial when you reach the next milestone. There is no harm in having more 🙂
Claim your existing reviews
Customers love to mention the brands they usually transact with. With or without asking, people are talking about you online. The good news is that you can find them with tools! You can track these mentions by setting up notifications on Google Alerts or Social Mention. Include a variety of terms that people may use to talk about your brand to ensure that you cover all grounds. Use these alerts to get in touch with the customers who have mentioned you in blogs/forums/other sites and seek their permission to feature the comment on your testimonials page. Usually, they oblige, more so if you have done a good job previously.
You already know the importance of creating systems within the company. You can systematize your sales process, interview process, why not your testimonials generation process as well ? Make it a part of your work process – Encourage your employees to get reviews from clients they work with at the end of a satisfactory engagement. You can also create an incentive program where they can receive cash bonuses for getting reviews; more reviews, more incentives!
Asking via email
When talking about systematization, you have to agree with me that robots do a better job. They never forget. Hence, if you are in a B2C business with infrequent customer contact, getting testimonials via email may be a better idea.
This is a bit trickier and difficult. People rarely check their important emails, let alone the ones about giving feedback. However, you can turn it around with the following tips:
- The email must come from a real person’s email address
- The pitch must be that of a personal request made by the same person
- Give a very clear call-to-action button of ‘Review’ and nothing else
- Use autoresponder to automatically trigger a testimonial request email X number of days after purchase. Plenty of software such as Mailchimp, Aweber, Infusionsoft can do the trick, at an affordable price.
- Go for A/B testing, i.e, test with different subject lines, email body, plain text versus HTML, etc., to see which performs the best.
Facebook and other review sites
Some businesses avoid using the reviews feature on Facebook, thinking that they would rather not take the risk of having a bad reputation online. Being a smart business owner, you should know that the most adventurous, daring and transparent businesses survive in this competitive marketplace! High risk, high returns. As Warren Buffet famously said, “When others are fearful, you should be greedy”. Jump on Facebook and openly accept reviews now!
Whats more, there are direct benefits to incorporating reviews in your social media profiles, and that is higher visibility. For example, your Google business page profile is more likely to show up on Google search results if it has considerable number of reviews. Likewise for other platform sites. Their algorithmn is mostly built in such a way that prioritizes high-ratings profile.
Reward users who review
Psychological principle of positive reinforcement holds – the more you incentivise, the more of such behavior you receive. Offer some incentives to your customers to leave reviews about you. Incentives can be in form of samples of your products, discounts on their future purchases, free gifts or promotional products. These tempt customers to leave reviews about your products. However, incent them to “write a review”, and not “write a good review”. Your motive should be to give them some incentives, not bribe them. Else it will backfire.
Make it super easy
Some businesses make their customers climb a mountain just to leave a positive review.
If possible, meet up with your customer and video or audio record them saying good things about your business. And you have a solid testimonial!
If you can only interact with them online, create forms and formats, and ask them to fill spaces respectively, instead of having them draft an email. People are innately lazy. This will make reviewing process less tedious and time consuming while encouraging people to leave reviews.
Sometimes, it is our own mental hurdle. Customers are usually nice people. Just ask – Gently ask them to leave a review of their experience on your website. A reasonable customer would understand how important reviews are for you as well as for other customers who would transact for the same product in future. If they use your product or service, feel free to ask them what they think about you.
In the words of Jeff Motter, CEO and chief marketing officer of EastBay Marketing Group, “The best way to get reviews is to ask for them and the best time to ask is when you finish the job and are with them”.
Outline of a Testimonial
Testimonials tell about a customer’s experience with you. Make sure that you never pester them to leave behind a testimonial. Asking them a few questions politely can solve your purpose. Carefully pick your questions so that your reviewer feels them to be genuine and easy enough to answer.
For instance you can ask –
- How was your experience with us?
- What would have stopped you from buying this product
- How do you find the product after buying it?
- What specific features of our products or services did you like the most?
- What benefit or result did you derive from using our product/service ?
- What more could we do to improve?
- Would you recommend our business to others? If so, why?
- Is there anything you’d like to add?
- Can I add your picture, company name, job title to the testimonial ? *
The last item could be the most important of all. The more generic a testimonial, the less convincing it is. The worst type of testimonial to have would be:
“Abc company is really good. – John”You are better off not having a testimonial with that. Hence, you need to ask questions to facilitate their thinking to smoothen the whole process. Remember the above rule? Make it as simple & easy as possible for your customers.
A survey done by econsultancy reveals that reviews/testimonials with a photo increases add-to-basket conversion by 22%. Again, the more specific , the better. Having photo, job title and company all helps.
Reviews not only give you scope for improvement, but help you widen your reach and increase brand awareness. With society and technology evolving rapidly, reviews can help you strengthen your online reputation and brand value. Shared experiences of your customers is what shapes your brand.