While planning my recent trip to Italy, I quickly realized how much I relied on the opinions of complete strangers to help me select my lodging, tours and dining choices. Come to think of it, I cannot remember the last time I made an online purchase without reading product reviews. Apparently, I'm not alone.
According to a recent survey conducted by Dimensional Research, 88 percent of respondents have been influenced by an online customer service review when making a buying decision. Today’s consumer is not receptive to traditional push marketing tactics. Rather, they search out a product or service that solves a problem or meets a need. They want confirmation from their peers your product or service is as good as you say it is on your website or in your brochure.
As sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google+ continue to gain popularity, it is important not only to be aware of the conversation, but also to have strategies in place to encourage positive reviews. Here are a few items to keep in mind when developing your strategy.
Happy customers are often willing to take the time to share their experience if prompted to do so and there are limited barriers. The simpler you can make the process for collecting reviews the better. For example, one week after returning from my trip, I received an email from one of the tour companies thanking me for my business and asking for me to submit a review on TripAdvisor. The email contained a direct link to its profile, therefore making it very easy for me to submit my review. Outside of email, calls to action (CTAs) on your website are another effective way to collect customer feedback. Just make sure the CTAs are placed on relevant pages.
I have seen a lot of mixed opinions on this topic. Many feel you should offer some type of discount or perk to customers who submit reviews. Personally, I disagree. As a consumer, I question the sincerity of the reviews submitted by customers who received some type of perk for doing so.
Responding to reviews, good and bad, lets customers know their voice is being heard and often encourages others to take the time to share their experience, too. As tempting as it may be to delete negative reviews, don’t. Instead, acknowledge the complaint publically and make arrangements to work directly with the customer offline to resolve the complaint. Besides, if all of your reviews are ‘5-Stars,’ consumers may question their authenticity.
Have you gotten positive reviews for your product or service? Share your tips for gaining customer reviews in the comments section below!
Shannon Fuldauer has a B2B and B2C eCommerce Marketing background including roles as Vice President of Marketing & Sales Support, and subsequently Vice President of Public Relations & SEO Services, for CareerBoard.com. She has expertise in digital marketing and advanced email communications.