As a business owner, you’re surely aware of the kind of impact reviews can have on your bottom line. Your customers are probably aware of this too, at least in passing, but they’re often unlikely to take the time to leave reviews. It’s a problem of diffusion of responsibility. As the total number of people increases (say, a large customer base) the sensation of personal responsibility and direct control felt by any single customer will drop.
The internet is the largest community in human history, and so it comes naturally to us to assume that someone else will have already written the 5-star review we felt inspired to write. We hesitate to take direct action.
How do you inspire your customers and clients to leave reviews?
The best way your business can overcome this hesitation is with transparency. If you’re asking for reviews (in an email, on a landing page, on social media, or even in person) explain why you need them, and what they mean for your business.
When you explain the ways that reviews will help your business grow, don’t shy away from telling your customers what that increase in traffic, or business growth will let you do, in turn.
Benefits of Reviews
Good, thorough reviews lead to increased user traffic, increased conversions, and better brand perfeception. They directly drive conversions, and broaden your customer base. Beyond these obvious benefits, Reviews have a number of more subtle, understated benefits as well.
Reviews can answer questions, like an extension of your FAQ page. This is especially true with products, and they will tend to respond to real, practical customer concerns. A five-star review with a little detail, like “fits big, so order one size down from what you’d expect” gives a user a more personal connection to the product (or service) and helps set appropriate expectations.
What to Do about a Bad Review
However unpleasant they may be, some good can always come from a bad review. Maybe your service wasn’t up to par that day, or maybe you had a mishap with your infrastructure. A bad review can alert you to the problem.
For instance, a restaurant that consistently gets bad reviews for certain dishes, or on certain days, can chart the trend and improve what needs fixing.
If you get a less than stellar review, there are a number of ways to deal with it. The wrong moves are to confront the customer, suppress the review, or to reach out privately. Here’s what you should be doing instead:
· Reach out to whomever left the review, publicly.
· Ask for details, like the exact date and time.
· Work with the customer toward some kind of recompense or resolution
· Thank the customer for the feedback, and make an earnest effort to do better in the future.
Even if the complaint is without merit – maybe the customer has an ax to grind, and fabricated the story – you’re still better off to follow these steps. By making the interaction public (Twitter and Facebook are great for this!) you give other potential customers full transparency about how your business resolves issues, and the kind of customer service they can expect in case of an issue.
Be sure that you’re confirming the details in good faith. You’re not trying to disprove the story, and it’s not an interrogation. You’re looking for useful information, to solve a problem.
Don’t Ever Fake It!
One last thing about reviews: don’t ever, under any circumstances, forge them. Don’t deliberately whitewash a curated list of only the most perfect, rave reviews, and don’t ever pay for false ones.
It ruins your credibility and your reputation, and your customers are guaranteed to see right through it. No matter how dependable your business is, there will always be a percentage of bad reviews. Whether those reviews are accurate or not, there will always be some.
And as for stuffing your page with fake reviews, they’re just as obvious. They don’t read as though they’ve been written by consumers.
And even if it’s a perfect ruse, too many positive reviews can still hurt your business.
The Harvard Business Review ran a study: what’s the impact of glowing reviews on consumer buying habits? They found that, while glowing reviews did increase the purchase probability for a given item, that inflation correlated with an even increase (not a proportional one; an even match) in returns.
Returns aren’t neutral when it comes to your bottom line. The cost of processing the return means that any product returned, and resold, will be sold at a loss. Basically, by setting the bar unreasonably high with rave reviews, customers ended up undersatisfied by even a perfectly good product.
What’s the Bottom Line on Reviews?
We’ll quote the Harvard Business Review’s perfect summary:
“Positive reviews are not good or bad per se. What matters is that they reflect the true quality of the product.”
That’s exactly the way reviews should work, whether good or bad. They should accurately describe the customer’s experience, and they should let potential customers know what to expect.