Getting Online Reviews

Online consumers, by and large, are far from stupid. They are suspicious, careful, and wary of anything that remotely looks like a fraud or a poor product. The internet may have created some great opportunities for the entrepreneur, but it is also a global village-and villagers talk. The online world also makes it easier for people to pass around information about businesses and post plenty of reviews. The savvy business owner will do everything they can to get these reviews. Why? Because reviews add credibility to your business, give you a chance to engage in some customer interaction, and improve your business with great on the ground feedback. Think of this way-big businesses pay for what you can get for free with just a bit of work.

Why Do You Need Online Reviews?

Remember how people talk? Well they do. A lot. If you have a site with no customer feedback, reviews and testimonials, you will be viewed as less trust worthy than the competition which do have these things. The reasoning is that if people have taken the time to review something, there must be something to what you’re selling and that gives you credibility with new customers.

There are some other benefits to getting online reviews. Good feedback pushes you to make improvements. By listening to what consumers have to say and acting on it, you also show that your business is interested in improving for the sake of your customers which also promotes loyalty and customers are more likely to keep working with you.

Finally, keep those reviews public (the good and the bad). By showing off the feedback your company has received, you will promote accountability and let people read what others have to say about you which is of course the whole point of the exercise.

How to Build Online Reviews

There is an art to building online reviews that are easy for the customer to do and useful for you to use. First of all, create an easy survey: it should take no longer than two to three minutes and you should opt for easy multiple choice with the option for additional comments.

Then figure out how to offer it to consumers. Don’t wait for them to give you feedback, make it easy for them to do it. Many sites put a quick survey at the end of the transaction stage so that consumers can answer questions about the entire process. You could also offer a promotion for doing the survey, such a small gift or discount. And of course make it easy for consumers to opt out of the feedback survey; some people just aren’t interested in giving their opinion or they may not have time for it.

You can also have an area for comments, discussion and feedback. Allow both the positive and the negative and let people talk to each other. This encourages consumer interaction, makes you look more credible and makes you more accessible, particularly if have an employee take charge of answering both the positive and the negative comments. The benefit of this kind of feedback is that you won’t need to do much encouraging to get the feedback, though you can always post a link on the final stage of the transaction directing customers to the comment form.

Finally, there are thirty-party sites which you can utilize. People tend to trust these more than company sites because they are believed to be more neutral. (Whether that’s true or not). However, most of your customers probably won’t post there unless you direct them there or they are really annoyed with you (something you want to avoid!) If you decide to direct customers to a third party site, make sure you post a clear link and offer a gift if they send you the URL of their reviews.

Dealing with Negative Reviews

They’ll happen! And negative reviews are like weeds; they’ll crop up without any help from you. But don’t let them drive you to a lather; negative reviews can be an opportunity in disguise.

First off, send the reviewer the gift or discount for posting the review, even if they sent a grumpy one. This can disarm the reviewer and make them feel a little less disgruntled. Then turn the negative into a positive:

Don’t be defensive, instead, try to figure out why something went poorly and what to do to prevent it from happening again.
Contact the reviewer privately and find out how you can make the customer happy. Of course some people are never going to be happy, but by reaching out, you’ll at least be showing you care.

Be prompt and deal with the problem as soon as possible. If you handle the problem quickly enough, the reviewer may change his or her mind and give you a better review.

Negative reviews aren’t fun and no matter how experienced you are, they may sting a little. But they can also become a great tool. By showing that you will respond and try to solve problems, you will show that your business is more human and this will make other customers more likely to trust you.

Customer feedback is incredibly important for any business looking to be successful. You know that people are going to talk about you and your business at a certain point, so lay down the foundation to make the most of this chattiness as early as possible. This way you can improve your business, increase your credibility and all around make the life of your business easier and better. Good luck and remember to listen to your customers!

Author Bio: Lena Paul is an MBA graduate and holds a leadership position with Sigma Research, a firm that provides Term Paper writing service and home work help to students.

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Filed in: Branding, Marketing, Reputation Management
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