If you own a business, you probably know how important great online customer reviews can be to your bottom line. In fact, one 2013 study revealed that eight out of every 10 customers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
So how do you go about generating online feedback? Here are some simple things to get you started:
Get social: If you don’t have a Facebook page and Twitter account, now is the time to get one. If you already do have Facebook and Twitter accounts, make sure you’re checking them regularly for comments. You need to keep a close eye on your social pages and respond to customer comments — good and bad — as they arise. And of course, you need to make it easy for people to find your social sites, so include links on your website and in your emails.
Make it easy to be nice: Sure, you may like to go on and on about how great your product or service is, but your customers may not be that chatty. For the verbally shy, make reviews easy by adding non-verbal options like multiple choice options or a star-rating system.
Get your game on: Ever heard of gamification? Basically, that term refers to websites that incorporate some sort of game play into their design to make it more fun for customers to engage. You can get as complex as you want, but even a simple thing like adding virtual badges or trophies for customers who leave reviews can increase feedback.
Be generous: Everyone likes to score something for free, and offering a free sample or free trial period can be really effective at getting customers to leave reviews.
Follow up: A customer just made a purchase. Is that the end of the transaction? Not if you want to generate some (generally positive) reviews. Once a purchase is complete, touch base with the customer to discuss both the item they purchased and the purchase experience in general. When you get positive responses, ask if you can share them as testimonials on your site.
OK, so those are just a few ways to generate reviews and feedback, but what should you do if some of that feedback is negative? First, set aside your anger and indignation, and don’t stress: Every business is going to catch a little flak once in a while. Don’t ignore negative reviews; instead, reply politely to deescalate and help soothe the customer. Try not to get into a debate on your social page; instead, invite the customer to contact you by phone or email, or offer to contact them. Be sure to thank them for their feedback and apologize for any inconvenience they’ve felt. And of course, if the feedback is on target, use it to make needed improvements.
Engaging customers and generating positive reviews takes work, but it’s work that can yield big returns. Take a few minutes today to think about how your business can improve feedback and start building its own base of dedicated fans.