by Megan Headley, Research Director at TrustRadius
There’s no two ways about it: the Internet has changed how we do business. Now consumers can order a product online and have it sent to their home the same day, access streaming media in a split second and even hire someone to do their shopping for them if they don’t feel like it! Now that’s diversity of service!
Generally, that adds up to a win for customers: they get personalized, efficient service for a fraction of the price. But for the companies on the other side of the equation, the story is slightly different — especially for small businesses. However, encouraging reviews offers a chance to grow your following and foment your brand identity, while addressing individual complaints. In fact, a steady hand here can win back dissatisfied customers. If that doesn’t speak to the power of reviews, we’re not sure what does! Here’s how it all breaks down.
The Why: Changing Customer Expectations.
Great companies run on symbiosis: a harmonic balance between your customer’s desire to feel valued and a company’s need to, well, turn a profit. But today’s buyers are much more sophisticated than they used to be. To put it bluntly, they can spot a fake from a mile away. That means you need to respond with authentic compassion for customer issues—no canned replies.
In brief, here are a few of the benefits enjoyed by companies who encourage reviews and respond openly to feedback:
Improved revenue. Responding to reviews and encouraging an open dialogue with customers leads to revenue increases. In one TripAdvisor study, for instance, businesses that responded to reviews were 21% more likely to receive a booking inquiry than those that did not.
Repeat customers. Reviews can be the gateway to consumer loyalty—even when the initial review is negative. In this study, for instance, 33% of negative reviewers posted a positive review after the company intervened, and 34% deleted their previous negative review. And, perhaps most remarkably, 18% became repeat customers—even after a bad experience.
Drive sales. Modern consumers are empowered to make informed decisions, and most take advantage of their newfound agency when purchasing. For instance, research from Deloitte found that 81% read reviews before buying. And if there are no reviews? Customers are likely to skip your product entirely.
The How: Encouraging Authentic Feedback.
Reviews drive business and shape branding, so how do you get customers to leave them?
Nobody understands the importance of reviews better than customers. They won’t be offended if you ask, as long as the request is timely and unobtrusive. And make it short and sweet. A brief email with a call-to-action is all you need.
Make it easier. Simply put, customers will be a lot more likely to leave feedback if they can figure out how to do it. Place the review button in a prominent place beneath the product description. And be sure to establish a company profile on all the major review sites: Google, Yelp, Facebook and any appropriate industry-specific sites.
Get mobile. At this point, there’s no excuse for not being optimized for mobile. After all, about two-thirds of consumers say they’ve purchased something using their smartphone in the past six months. Reviews, likewise, should be mobile-friendly, especially since 80% of surveyed customers admit to using their smartphones to research products while shopping in a physical store.
Once you dial into your customer mindset, it will be a lot easier to craft marketing campaigns and indeed even launch new products and services that will really resonate. Now that’s a win-win!
Megan Headley is the Research Director at TrustRadius. Her mission is to gather the highest quality data from authenticated reviewers, and provide useful curated reports for prospective software buyers. Prior to joining TrustRadius, Megan was Director of Sales and Marketing at a media company. She holds MA degrees in Journalism and Latin American Studies from the University of Texas.