Customer reviews are priceless.
They provide bosses with honest feedback about their business, lifting the lid on low standards and lacklustre staff members. By analysing these reviews, businesses can find and improve their biggest problem areas.
They can also be leveraged as a powerful marketing tool. Some 88% of customers admit to being influenced by online reviews when making a purchasing decision.
However, valuable feedback can be difficult to obtain. It’s estimated that as few as 10% of customers actually leave constructive reviews after making a purchase.
The Art of Persuasion
Leaving a review takes time and effort, and many customers simply forget. Relying on organic response rates is inefficient – customers must be persuaded to provide feedback.
First and foremost, you must follow the Golden Rule. No matter which method you choose, it must be SIMPLE and EASY to leave a review.
Your customers will be more likely to leave feedback if it’s easy to do so. Complicated questionnaires and time-consuming surveys will deter even the hardiest of reviewers.
Keep your response forms short and sweet. Lengthy opinion boxes are off-putting – opt for tick-boxes and number responses.
A Time and Place for Everything
If your company is based online, soliciting reviews can be a tricky business. Asking for feedback at the point of sale is difficult, as the customer hasn’t yet experienced the product in question.
Requesting feedback via email is one of the most common tactics. However, response rates are staggeringly low – it’s estimated that American businesses may receive as few as 2 reviews per 1000 emails sent.
Although there is no sure-fire way to guarantee higher response rates, customer review experts recommend the following tips:
- At the point of sale, tell customers that they’ll receive an email asking for a review.
- Send a polite reminder to those customers who don’t respond, a few days after the initial email.
- Personality can be persuasive – make sure your emails are interesting and fun to read.
- Ensure the review page is mobile-friendly. If mobile users can’t read the questionnaire, they won’t fill it in.
It’s important to take the demographics of your customer base into account. Younger customers are generally easier to target, as they are more accustomed to sharing content online. Older customers will perhaps need a little more persuasion – but don’t be deterred. You may find that reviews from these customers are more in-depth, and are therefore more valuable.
Brick and Mortar
Brick and mortar businesses might not have access to customer email addresses. Generally, these stores have two options:
- Provide customers with the link to a review site, typically on the bottom of a receipt.
- Ask customers to provide feedback in-store.
As response rates fall dramatically once the customer has left the store, in-store review systems are generally more effective.
Providing a small financial incentive is generally a good way to encourage feedback – although some researchers claim that 87.5% of customer reviews are written for altruistic reasons.
Discount codes and prize draw entries tend to work well, and most retailers print the necessary details on each till receipt. However, don’t forget to tell customers about the incentive at the point of sale, as few people actually read the small print on receipts.
Most importantly, these incentives should be given to all reviewers, regardless of the nature of their feedback. There are no shortcuts when it comes to positive feedback – bad reviews can only be prevented by providing a consistently excellent service.
Guest Post: This article was written by Matt Everard of Barrington Freight, a logistics company based in the UK.