The Internet has made communicating easier than ever, but this means it's also easier to communicate dissatisfaction with a product or service. Customer reviews are key to any business strategy, but how do you persuade people to leave positive reviews of your service?
The key issue you face is that people are much more likely to leave negative reviews than they are positive customer reviews. The reason for this, perhaps, is that a positive experience is expected — after all, you would go into a store expecting to be able to find what you need and buy it easily. Only if something went wrong with that process would you comment on it. Your customers are the same.
Around 70 percent of people trust online customer reviews. Naturally, your customers are even more likely to trust customer reviews from people they know. In short, customer reviews are around 12 times more trusted than the descriptions you put on your website. Effectively, a single poor review can have damaging repercussions on your business.
A number of businesses make the mistake of asking employees to leave positive reviews on third-party websites, such as Yelp and Google+, but this does more harm than good. Overly promotional reviews tend to be removed quickly, and if multiple customer reviews come from the same IP address, they may be removed. So that's not an option.
The first solution is to ensure that every customer gets a first-class experience. That's easy to say, but it's not so easy to put into practice, as some customers are unreasonable, demanding and generally uncompromising. Catering to such customers can be difficult. However, as long as the vast majority of your customers are satisfied, they're not an issue.
The next step is to ensure your customers are communicating positively about your brand. Facebook offers a great way to ensure that your customers talk about your brand, and you can encourage positive customer reviews. Add an incentive for people to like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter by offering a time-limited coupon or something similar.
Likewise, you can ask people to leave reviews on certain sites. QR codes make it even easier for those with smartphones to leave positive reviews, engage with you on social media and unlock promotional goodies, and they're relatively cheap to implement. Make sure that your customers understand what's on the QR code, however. A short phrase such as "Tell Yelp what you think of us" is normally enough. Remember that a review that's automatically generated risks being flagged and removed.
Customer reviews are important, and positive reviews are even more so. Engage with your customers to ensure you get the positive reviews that you need to solidify your presence online.
(Photo courtesy of adamr / freedigitalphotos.net)