When customers speak, brands listen. That’s the baseline for doing business in a customer-centric economy. That’s why you just can’t emphasize the importance of customer reviews!
Customer reviews have come a long way from simple word-of-mouth recommendations to published online assessments dissecting your product. Through social media and customer review sites, customers easily share their best and worst experiences about a brand.
Thus, giving them a permanent and powerful voice in the creation and marketing of products. What do all these imply for marketers, operators, and customer service managers in 2020?
- How Customer Reviews Impact Your Business
- Top 9 Ways to Make the Most of Your Customer Reviews
- When CX Meets Customer Reviews
- Tips To Get More Genuine Customer Reviews
- The Best Customer Review Websites To Be On (B2B + B2C)
How Customer Reviews Impact Your Business
The simplest takeaway is perhaps the most obvious: awesome reviews often lead to awesome sales. In fact, nine in ten B2B buyers are more likely to make a purchase after reading a trusted review. When people like your product and they share the experience, other people would be interested and would likely join the bandwagon.
Similarly, dismal reviews often lead to dismal revenue performance. A hotel service that generates far too many one-star reviews will be hard-pressed to book a long list of guests.
There are exceptions — such as critically panned films that fare pretty well in the box office, and vice versa — but these are rare. The rule of thumb is you’ll always want positive reviews and a strong reputation for your brand. It’s just common business sense. And it’s largely proven by research findings and popular customer service statistics:
- Online customer service reviews influence nearly 9 in 10 consumers when making a buying decision.
- When purchasing a product, 90% of customers are influenced by positive reviews.
- Around 86% of millennials reveal that they are influenced by negative reviews when buying a product or service.
Without a customer reviews strategy, you’re losing out
Given those numbers, any business that does not have an effective customer review strategy fails to benefit from customer feedback in many ways:
- Forego the opportunity to learn from their audience and keep customers engaged.
- Miss potentially game-changing suggestions on how to improve products or services.
- Eventually, lose dissatisfied but redeemable customers who are just waiting to be heard and adequately served.
- Ignore the golden opportunity to harness the marketing power of their most vocal supporters.
In short, any business that doesn’t have an effective customer review strategy in 2020 will fail to manage their overall customer service and experience.
Top 9 Ways to Make the Most of Your Customer Reviews
1) Publish and promote your top reviews consistently
Because customer reviews influence purchase decisions, ensure that you publish those reviews on business assets such as your website, online stores, and social media pages. A Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center study shows that displaying (at least five) customer reviews can improve conversion by as much as 270%.
2) Double down on negative reviews to find new opportunities
Use customer reviews as a platform for improving customer experience (CX), customer service, and customer success. Skim online and offline reviews to find useful insights into improving your products and services to meet customers’ needs. An easy way to manage this process is by using customer service CRM.
3) Let customer reviews also direct your product roadmap
Glean general customer feedback for mentions of “wish lists” or “nice-to-have features” to use as inputs for continuous product development/evolution.
4) Combine surveys and analytics to dig deeper into reviews
Use analytics-enabled surveys on social media to generate new or complement existing customer reviews and speed up problem resolutions. Enhance social listening with the right customer analytics tool.
5) Use reviews in your brand marketing efforts
Use well-written, objective, and honest reviews to establish your brand’s authenticity and ability to make valuable connections with its users. Tap these user-generated content as social proof and deploy them as regular elements in your brand communication and content marketing efforts.
Doing so not only helps drive higher conversions as explained earlier but also delivers online ranking benefits since your website gets to publish fresh content on a niche topic.
6) Create useful content users would love to review
Complement your customer referral efforts with a recommendations/referrals section in your customer reviews. The majority of buyers are willing to share their experience with other prospects but vendors just need to ask first.
7) Build a customer community and increase your LTV
Give customers a voice in the way you evolve the products they use and you give them an extra reason to stay. Engaged customers who have a stake in your brand tend to have longer and higher lifetime value.
8) Prioritize reviews for higher-priced products
Research shows that customer reviews have a greater impact on high-value items (+380%) compared to lower-priced products or services (+190%).
9) Clean and balance your reviews database
Give more premium on reviews done by verified buyers over anonymous accounts. Filter out known troll or fake reviews.
When CX Meets Customer Reviews
Structure customer reviews around your customer journey
Determine — through social listening, research, and reading reviews — the specific stages where customers are evaluating and talking about their experiences. You can then strategically place company-owned and managed feedback loops and communities into the experience.
Make sure feedback is closed-loop
This ensures that when a customer provides feedback via any channel, their feedback is received by a stakeholder who can intervene. Once feedback is given, the stakeholder follows up with the customer, addresses the feedback, resolves the issue, and re-surveys on that point.
Keep the whole process data-driven
Deploy text analytics into any of your feedback measuring/monitoring systems to get full value out of customer sentiment and deeper insight into the customer experience.
Tips To Get More Genuine Customer Reviews
The question is not whether you need customer reviews. It’s how you get more of them. Being primarily rooted in the B2C space, customer reviews have also spread in the enterprise (B2B) sector. Here are some ways to generate more customer reviews in either environment:
- Draw up a coherent customer reviews strategy. Outline where in the buyer journey, you can ask for reviews. Also, prepare a list of review sites you want to build a brand presence in.
- Make it easy for your customers to leave a review. Display prominent review sections, functions, or links on your website or app. Use effective review management software to automate the process.
- Build a positive reputation on social media such as Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Optimize native review features such as the Facebook review tab and LinkedIn recommendations.
- Incentivize customers who make comprehensive reviews. Rewards can be tickets, vouchers, coffee, gift cards, and cupcakes.
- Depending on your industry and market, choose your relevant review websites.
- Piggyback a review function on short, easy surveys.
- Use events as venues to take surveys and request customers to write short reviews.
- Manage negative reviews and reinforce positive ones. Share positive reviews on your website and social media.
- Listen to what customers are saying and take action when necessary. Let them know that you’ve heard their concerns and you care about their issues.
- Address negative reviews before they become a big PR problem. Acknowledge their emotions, practice empathy, and work out a solution.
The Best Customer Review Websites To Be On (B2B + B2C)
1) Amazon Customer Reviews
A key pioneer of user-generated reviews covering anything offered on Amazon’s marketplace.
Owned by Salesforce, this marketplace allows users to review enterprise software solutions.
3) Better Business Bureau
A consumer advocacy organization that provides information and recommendations about member companies.
Great for finding comprehensive and verified software reviews. To date, the site has vetted more than 675,000 verified user reviews.
5) Consumer Reports
A magazine and nonprofit organization that predates the Internet by several decades. It publishes unbiased product tests and comprehensive, well-presented reviews of any consumer product.
An online review and rating site focusing on automobiles.
7) Facebook Ratings and Reviews
A way to gather and display product reviews and ratings on the world’s largest social network. You can use this alongside your other social or Google ads.
An online peer-to-peer review platform for business software solutions. Best used for side-by-side comparisons of competing solutions.
An online career platform that allows employees to write reviews and rate their employers. More than half a million companies have reviews on the site.
10) Google My Business
A service by the planet’s dominant search engine for businesses. It helps you feature on SERP with complete contact information and user ratings.
11) Home Advisor
An online platform for reviews of home services and products targeting residential customers.
An online directory service for small business reviews and ratings.
13) Software Advice
A company aiming to help customers make the best purchasing decisions when it comes to software. Their website provides detailed reviews and product comparisons.
A travel-oriented website for user reviews and recommendations on all things travel and tourism.
A review platform for business software and an online directory for member businesses. Because the site has no ads and vets all reviewers, you can be sure that reviews are reliable.
A pre-internet directory based on local landline telephone numbers. Aside from contact and background information on businesses, it also features user reviews.
A local search and ratings platform that facilitates crowd-sourced reviews of local services. This could include restaurants, plumbing or electrical services, for example.
A search and discovery service focusing on restaurants, cafes, food, and deliveries. The platform features user-generated ratings.
There are many things that influence buying behavior but few more powerful real reviews from real customers. Customer reviews represent the latest iteration of word-of-mouth recommendations.
They should be a top agenda for businesses wishing to remain relevant, drive revenue, and build their reputation.
Gaetano DiNardi is the Director of Demand Generation at Nextiva and has a track record of success working with brands like Major League Baseball, Pipedrive, Sales Hacker and Outreach.io. Outside of marketing, Gaetano is an accomplished music producer and songwriter - he’s worked with major artists like Fat Joe, Shaggy and loves making music to stay turbocharged. To get in touch, follow him on LinkedIn.