It’s important to remember that online shopping doesn’t just make it easy for people to find the products and services they need. It also allows them to find out what people who’ve already purchased them have made of them. That’s why getting good customer reviews is so important.
Using Customer Reviews for Business Intelligence
With all the changes and advancements in technology, remote working has increasingly become the norm. If you’ve found yourself managing a remote sales team recently, you’ll know just how dramatic the effect has been. But despite all the uncertainty, there’s one sector that’s comparatively prospered: online retail. Customers, after all, have been increasingly turning to internet outlets to buy everyday necessities as well as those treats and luxuries they love so much.
Basic business intelligence tells us that it’s going to be some time before things go ‘back to normal’ – and that’s if they ever do. It’s clear enough already that some of the changes we’ve seen recently will endure for the long term.
High street businesses are already beginning to pivot to online and away from bricks-and-mortar retail. The bottom line is that customers like the convenience of online retail.
This is why, if you’re running a business online, you need to be aware of the importance of customer reviews. Consumers these days aren’t shy about giving their opinions – good or bad – and it’s already become the norm for shoppers to delve into customer reviews before they commit themselves to a particular purchase.
Think about it: when was the last time you tried somewhere new, be it a shop or a restaurant, without checking online to see what other people have had to say about it? Reading customer reviews has become a regular part of the consumer routine; something we do almost without thinking about it beforehand.
Of course, customer reviews can be a double-edged sword. Good reviews can provide consumers with the reassurance they need to use your business, but bad reviews (and it only takes one real stinker to make an impression) can leave them feeling apprehensive. And, if anything, customers who’ve had bad experiences are probably more likely to feel the need to leave a review than those who have good experiences.
This means that customer reviews aren’t always foolproof (especially if you’re a consumer looking for information on a product or service you haven’t used before) but nevertheless, they are taken very seriously by a lot of people.
The upside is that consistently good customer reviews can do a great deal to boost sales, encouraging customers to buy a product they’ve had their eye on, whether it’s a VoIP system or a new laptop. What’s more, there are things you can do to encourage customers to leave reviews – good ones, hopefully – and you can reap real rewards from this.
Here, we’ll list three top tips for boosting sales through customer reviews. They’re best practices to help you entice customers to progress along the various stages of your micro funnels, all the way to making a purchase.
1. Respond Graciously to Criticism
The thing to remember here is that negative (or, at least, less than wholly positive) customer reviews are inevitable. Sooner or later, you’ll get one. How you respond to it is a major test. We’ve no doubt all seen examples of business proprietors losing their temper in their replies to negative customer reviews – and it’s never, ever a good look.
You’d think this would be obvious: getting into unseemly rows with your customers, for everyone to see, sends out the worst possible message. And yet, too many people who run businesses seem completely unable to resist the temptation.
It might well be that some of the criticism you receive is unfair. But at the same time, customers are entitled to their views, and maybe they have had a genuinely bad experience. For example they could feel shortchanged by your customer service, rather than just be complaining for the sake of it.
Also, sometimes the criticism you receive will actually be quite useful and insightful. Consumers are, after all, coming at your business from a different perspective to your own. They may see things that you’ve overlooked. Whatever feedback you receive, respond to it in a gracious and constructive spirit.
By doing so, you may be able to win people round even after they’ve had a negative experience. This could boost sales from the customers in question and others who were impressed by your handling of the issue.
2. Use Good Customer Reviews to Boost Awareness
The flipside of the previous point is that good reviews can be a real boost. If you’re a consumer and you see lots of positive reviews for a shop or other business, you’re probably going to feel a lot happier about using them even if you’ve never done so before.
The views of peers are very important to consumers – more so than any glitzy promotional or marketing campaign. That’s because what they want to hear are the authentic views of people like themselves, rather than being bombarded with promo material. Make sure you keep an eye on what people are saying about your brand through social media monitoring, too.
If you’ve received a review – whether for a product you’re selling or your overall customer experience – that’s particularly good, then why not highlight it for people to see? You could, for instance, promote it on social channels to draw attention to it.
Good reviews are effective both at drawing new customers in and at encouraging existing customers to keep using your business. By amplifying positive views, you can give other consumers the encouragement they might need to place their trust in you.
3. Encourage Customers to Give Their Feedback
It’s a good idea to actively give customers a nudge in order to get feedback from them. You should stress that you want to hear their views regardless of what they are – obviously, you can’t tell people to only give you positive reviews. This should ensure that customers are more positively disposed to your business and its products and services, because you’ve made the effort to ask them what they think. As we’ve already noted, customers can be quite vocal these days, and they often enjoy giving their views.
You could also reach out to consumers via effective email marketing to ask them what they think of your business. If, for example, you’re sending out an email to promote a new product launch or sale, why not include a little reminder that you’re looking for their feedback?
You could even make it worth their while. For instance, by offering them a discount (though ethically, you have to be careful not to be seen to bribe). You should revisit your email deliverability practices every so often to see if you’re making the most effective use of your email communications to customers, too. That way you know your well-crafted messages are getting through.
About the Author
Sam O’Brien is the Director of Digital and Growth for EMEA at RingCentral, a Global VoIP, video conferencing and team collaboration tool provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams. He has written for websites such as Codemotion and Commercialcafe. Here is his LinkedIn.