You can have the best product, the most engaging customer service, and an effective marketing campaign. But one lousy review from a convincingly sincere customer can derail everything.
How convincing are customer reviews? 91% of 18-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 93% of consumers say that online reviews influence their purchase decisions. So let’s talk about how to get reviews, where reviews can matter the most, and how to respond to negative reviews.
Ask for feedback
People like to know things and be experts in something. Use that to your advantage. If a customer has had a successful result from your small start-up, that shows they can spot winning talent and are savvy about their business choices. Use that to your advantage.
If you are selling goods online, asking for feedback can be easy and make that feedback visible and actionable for future customers. For example:
- In the Shop Manager on Etsy, click on an order’s message button to check in with a customer on their satisfaction with their purchase and ask for a review.
- Set up a Google My Business account if you have a street address. Use pop-ups on your website, email campaigns, or social media to ask customers to leave feedback on your Google My Business page. (Note: you cannot set up accounts with a P.O. Box.)
- Many social media channels have surveys and other ways for customers to provide feedback and thoughts on products or services.
- If it’s in your budget, consider signing up with a service such as Shopper Approved or TrustPilot to gather feedback. While not free, these services use a simple integration to ask for reviews of the buying experience and later the product itself.
Set goals based on whichever channel you are using to gather reviews. For star systems, aim for higher than 3.3 stars, which research has shown is the minimum rating at which researching consumers would consider investing in a product or company.
Focus your efforts on specific channels
You’ve received dozens of reviews—great! But they are scattered over multiple channels, and most are not enough to generate a convincing ranking. You can’t necessarily control where your customers choose to leave reviews, but you can try to channel them to the ones that will mean the most.
- Determine where your customers are. If you sell on a particular online channel—such as Etsy, Amazon, or Fiverr—focus your efforts on getting reviews from customers there. Many channels have algorithms that make products with better reviews appear higher in on-site search results.
- There’s a difference between product reviews and company reviews. When customers search for a particular product, that product will sometimes appear with a star ranking. Those rankings are based on reviews of the product itself, not just the company. If you invest in a review gathering service, be sure to sign up for both vendor and product reviews to make the most of paid and organic search results.
- Don’t forget that reviews can happen whether you want them or not. You might be focusing your efforts on specific channels. Still, customers can leave reviews for you anywhere they find your company, including auto-generated pages on social media or review sites such as Yelp. Search for your company from an incognito browser regularly and watch for reviews (good or bad) wherever they appear.
Reply to reviews
Whether good or bad, it’s crucial to reply to your reviews. This shows potential customers that you are engaged, focused, and actively engaged in your company and product.
Good reviews can be as simple as, “We’re so happy you enjoyed your purchase!” But don’t miss an opportunity to learn and educate. Customers will often share how they are using your product or why they purchased it, and this can be a valuable insight into use cases you may not have considered. You can also use that information to share additional ways your product might benefit a customer, leading to better engagement, repurchases, and recommendations.
Bad reviews are not always bad—see each as an opportunity to show your customer service and desire to make things right. Respond openly (i.e., publicly) to show sincerity, and provide constructive feedback and actions. If a customer received a product late or in a defective state, explain how you will make it right. If a customer is dissatisfied with using your product, provide troubleshooting advice as much as possible based on what they shared of their experience.
Even if there is nothing actionable or insightful about the bad review, respond with empathy and an offer to continue to conversation. “We’re so sorry you were not happy with your purchase, and we’d like to make it right. Would you be willing to reach out to us with more information about your experience?” Provide direct contact information (don’t just send them to your website) and then move on. Bad reviews aren’t the end of the world, and vague ones have been shown not to have a strong negative effect on new purchases.
Actively engaging in soliciting and responding to reviews shows your dedication to and involvement in your company, which in turn helps grow your business.