In today’s world, customers are now able to be a lot more vocal about the service they receive from your organisation. Whether it is via social media or on review sites, customers can express their opinion to the rest of the online world.
In our blog this week, eSense discusses how important these review sites are to your business and how you can use them to help manage your online reputation.
Review sites have the power to affect your sales. A massive 92% of customers now read online reviews, with star ratings being the number one factor used to judge a business.
Potential customers will search for information about your business, as well as using photos and customer opinions to help them make a purchase decision.
Unfortunately for businesses, online customer reviews are not always that reliable. A study found that often there was little link to the quality of a product and the review rating it was given. The exception to this was when there were a large number of reviews and an aggregated opinion could be taken across all of them.
This is regrettable for businesses, as many potential customers may end up misinformed. Nonetheless, users do not blindly follow these reviews and are pretty clued-up when it comes to making a judgement. Most users will read reviews with a degree of scepticism about their validity. Sites where views do not appear balanced or are all overly positive are often rejected as fake. In fact, 95% of people are reported to suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see any bad scores.
There are a number of popular trusted online review sites. Google My Business, Yelp and Facebook are popular for generic services, whereas TripAdvisor continues to be the go-to site for restaurants and travel.
Trustpilot is a relatively newcomer to the review site arena, but offers businesses additional services. It is still a 3rd party review site, but enables businesses to collect customer feedback via their Automatic Feedback Service. They also offer notifications and analytics to assist with tracking your reviews.
Reports from businesses that have used Trustpilot demonstrate the power of review sites, as it is claimed that you could see an increase of up to 44% in additional revenue.
Building a bank of good customer reviews will not only improve your online reputation and therefore boost sales, it will also improve your visibility online in search engine results. Having a solid presence across a range of relevant review sites will provide important backlinks to your own website and help you appear above your competitors when searched.
eSense shares some tips on how to improve your presence on online review sites.
Firstly, ensure your business is registered with a range of generic and industry-relevant review sites. Most are free and simply involve filling out an online form to get started.
Start encouraging your customers to leave reviews.
As mentioned, Trustpilot offers an online portal from which you can automate your requests for reviews.
Speak to your customers directly as well. If you deal with them face-to-face or over the telephone, ask them at the end of the buying process if they would like to leave you a review and let them know which review sites you are registered on. If you work with your customers online, email them with a similar message.
Grab the opportunity when a customer compliments your business to ask them to leave a review.
The key to receiving more reviews is not waiting too long after the buying process to request them. Customers will normally be happy to express their opinions on a product or service just after they have received it. Leave it a few days and the memory of their experience will fade.
Make the process of leaving a review as easy as possible. It is a lot less likely that a customer will go out of their way to find you on a review site and share their opinion. Some sites offer links that you can embed on your website for your customers to click on and leave a review. Also ensure any emails sent also have a link added.
Where possible try to thank those customers who have left reviews. Some sites will allow you to respond directly, otherwise a quick email will always be appreciated and improve the chances of return custom.
Be careful with incentivising your customers to leave reviews. Although this can work, you need to ensure that you are not buying good reviews. Competitions and giveaways offered across the board to your customers are a sound, ethical way to use incentives to encourage reviews.
Generating a strong bank of reviews can take time and the occasional negative review is to be expected, but should not be fretted about. The essential part of negative reviews is how they are dealt with. Trustpilot claim that 90% of unhappy customers will still return to a business if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently. Once a negative review has been dealt with, move on and focus more importantly on encouraging positive ones.
Customer feedback on review sites should be an important part of your sales and marketing strategy. The power a customer now holds to affect your online reputation is unlikely to change, so businesses should look to make the collection of reviews an important ongoing task. If you need assistance with managing your online reputation, eSense has a team of experienced professionals ready to help.
By Lorna Paice