Before the digital era, we relied on friends, family and aquatints for testimonials; that’s old news now-a-days especially that we’re surrounded by online review sites such as Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor, Zomato and what have you. These platforms represent a free-of-cost opportunity to grasp feedback and advice about your business regardless of its nature.
The importance of online reviews isn’t only to showcase how great of a five-stars experience you offer your customers, but also to measure and realize what are the strengths and weaknesses of your business, if you’re a restaurant, you want to know which dish your best serve is. If you’re a clinic, you want to know which doctor/nurse is the best, catch my drift?
Many studies show that trustworthy reviews now have a bigger influence on online purchase decisions than family and friends do for 68% of customers, while recommendations from friends and family influence only 42% of consumers. That is a considerable difference. On the other hand, brand reputation and reliable online reviews have taken the place of good old-fashioned word-of-mouth recommendations – the latter still matter till this very moment!
A vital point to understand here, is very existence of your online platforms is to interact, engage and connect daily with your customers. Brand-client relationship has evolved so much in the past decade, brands are now connecting and adding value to people’s lives every single day, be it a minor or a major contribution. It still counts.
In light of this introduction, it’s clear that online reviews are a vigorous factor in developing and enriching a brand’s reputation, on both, the online and offline realms. Make no mistake, online is a huge part of the offline, they are interconnected, because whatever occurs in real life immediately goes viral and vice-versa. Therefore, it is key that you encourage your customers to make the contribution to your brand and leave an online review, whether it’s a positive or a negative one, it’s still their honest opinion. Taking it forward from there is totally up to you. Here are few methods on how to encourage customers to leave a review and the hidden cost behind not having them do so.
Have a Happy Customer? Ask for a Review!
Happy customers are a gold mine waiting to be discovered, invite them to write about their experiences. Since they’re happy, they will most likely joyfully write when asked. With online marketing timing can be everything, so as soon as you spot a satisfied customer, they should be asked for a positive review. The happier the customer is with their experience, the more excitedly they will write, and the better it will be for the business. Missing this opportunity, is like missing the school bus, your brand lost the value this customer could’ve added, your brand missed the chance to be introduced to his social circle – and their social circle as well – good news is just like bad ones, they travel fast. You missed the vividness of the experience, being a recent one to be described, if you ask them later, they will write some cliché that’s that. Most importantly, you missed letting this customer know how much you value their opinion, which is a priceless fact to them. Hunt them while they’re happy my friend.
Advertise smartly using your online platforms!
A trendy method of engaging with brand followers, is making a contest out of reviews. Create a post that says something like, “Leave us a review! Once we get 100 reviews, we will be giving away a gift!” Most people don’t love spending their valuable time writing online reviews, but is there any person who won’t want to win a gift? Be sure to keep up-to-date and to follow through with the promise of a gift by actually giving one, and when you do, make it go viral. It’s free, it’s smart and exciting. Not doing that, can actually cost you customers/followers to someone else. Even worse, it can cause them to lose interest in your online channel, because simply, followers follow to feel a sense of belonging, if you don’t make them feel a part of your brand, they will definitely seek this elsewhere.
Transform the request to a habit!
At some point, customers are going to end up at the official brand website, it’s inevitable. So, if on some pages of the website there is a “review request,” then the chance of someone writing one is higher. Another method would be to have a cool pop-up appear. Don’t do this on every page of the website though, as it could quickly become really annoying. Dropping this habit, would affect the day-to-day interaction, not immensely catastrophic, but it would not keep you on top of mind. Putting the effort to be a part of their daily lives and think of their entire journey as customers and creating innovative ways of being a part of this journey and enriching it, will 100% pay off.
End each communicate with your customers with a friendly request!
Again, people just need a little encouragement to take the next step and write a review. Firstly, the customer needs to know that the business wants a review. Secondly, the customer needs to know where to go and what is expected of them – seems like briefing them, doesn’t it!
You can include a link that they can click on with ease and thank them for their participation in helping the business to provide even better service in the future. Ignoring this thing, deprives the customer from knowing why it’s important and how they can help. They would feel misguided at times, which platform matters the most to leave their review on. The minute a customer believes he/she are indifferent to your brand, you lose the connection with them. So, make good use of it.
The takeaway would be, not encouraging customers to write their honest reviews will render your brand disconnected, it will miss on the emotional appeal with its customers, it will take out the sense of community and appreciation, and they may think their opinion isn’t valued nor needed. Give them the sense of “I review, therefore, I am”, make them exist in the core of your brand.