NB: This is a guest article by by Anthony Rawlins, CEO of Digital Visitor, a social media and marketing agency for travel and tourism organisations globally.
Whatever product or service you’re selling; online customer reviews have real bottom-line benefit – increasing conversion, lowering return rates and boosting SEO efforts.
But while the positives are clear for businesses, what do customers get for taking the time to leave their feedback, why on earth are travellers seemingly so eager to leave reviews about businesses?
And by understanding these motives, how can you encourage them to keep doing so?
It may sound surprising, but a large number of reviewers are motivated by the desire to help others.
They consider what information they themselves would want to see when making a buying decision, and post this so other shoppers can make an informed choice.
It makes them feel like a valued member of the online community, and is the same phenomenon that prompts people to post offers and competitions on online deal sites.
This trend helps everyone involved in the process – businesses gain from the content added, reviewers gain by feeling good, and other customers gain from honest and unbiased information.
What you can do:
- Start appealing to your customers’ altruistic side by asking for their help. Tell them that you value their feedback and that it’s important to both you and your other customers. And remember to say thank you!
Brands today are asking more and more of their customers – asking them to like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, sign up to their newsletter, tell their friends about them, post a review etc. etc. etc.
All these different requests have the ultimate same goal (to help drive sales), but they acknowledge the power of the individual in extending audience reach – using customers as part of an unofficial marketing team.
The result is that consumers are now becoming savvy to this, and with numerous brands seeking to make them a brand ambassador, they often expect – and require – some sort of reward for their efforts.
What you can do:
- Offering online reviewers an exclusive discount code, early access to a sale, freebie or entry into a competition can help encourage submissions, but also show your customers that you value their help and are willing to say thank you in a real and tangible way.
Some reviewers are prompted by a desire to help brands improve their products. They might ask for a clothing retailer to make an item in a different colour, or for a transport supplier to add a new route.
In doing so, they not only provide companies with essential customer insight, but have an opportunity to help steer a brand’s product and service portfolio towards one that best meets their individual needs.
What you can do:
- Tell your customers that their feedback will be listened to and considered – and follow through on this promise, updating them on any changes you do make. If they feel they have a real chance to influence change, they are more likely to respond.
When you add review functionality to your site, with it should come an understanding that not every review will be a glowing one. The good usually far outweighs the bad, but the odd unhappy camper will take to the keyboard to make public their dissatisfaction.
You may be nervous about negative reviews, but a site full of five-star reviews will ring alarm bells. Nobody expects everything you do to be absolutely, unwavering perfect – and the occasional bad review will show balance.
It’s also worth remembering that what one person rates poorly (e.g. a closely-fitting garment, or quiet hotel bar), another may see as a positive; and your customers are smart enough to spot unfair comments or posts from those with unrealistic expectations – and will often spring up in your defence.
What you can do:
- Have a clear process for customers to complain in place – be it a dedicated phone number, email or Twitter account, and encourage unhappy customers to use this. Offensive or inappropriate reviews (e.g. a tirade against store staff on a product review) can be deleted, but contacting the reviewer telling them why you have done so will help prevent further actions, and also open communication for you to resolve any issues.
In today’s competitive marketplace, brand loyalty can be hard-won and easily lost.
But brands that deliver consistently great products or services, or have a reputation for superior customer service, can build up a loyal legion of fans who want to shout about them – which includes leaving glowing reviews.
Talking about the brands we love, makes us feel closer to them and affiliates us to whatever they represent – be it the pioneering spirit of technology, the glamour of high fashion, or the freedom of travel.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a global giant or small start-up – if you’re doing a good job, you will start building a fan base. Foster these people and you will reap the rewards.
What you can do:
- Bring your reviewers closer to your brand by shouting about them. Hold a ‘reviewer of the month’ competition, where the winner is publicised on your website and social channels. Consider calling or emailing them personally saying how much you appreciate their efforts, or treat them with a gift voucher or discount code. More tips.
An especially heart-warming, vitriolic or comedic customer review has the opportunity to go viral. Part of the joy of social networking is the sharing of content that catches our eye.
From cat videos to customer service mistakes, we love to share the unusual and the amusing – and that includes off-the-wall reviews.
Amazon is famous for its bizarre reviews of cult items, as the product pages for David Hasslehoff’s musical efforts clearly show.
While these unusual reviews may not have you seeing pound signs, consider that their entertainment factor means they are more likely to be shared – and the more they are shared, the more extended your brand reach.
Also consider that with every view, traffic is being sent to your site – and while people are there, they may be tempted to look around.
What you can do?
- Encourage people to say whatever they want – explaining that you value honesty and opinion above all else, or think about a competition to find the most amusing or inventive review. Although a word of warning – make sure your review solution includes a moderation option and a swear-word filter.
This is a guest article by by Anthony Rawlins, CEO of Digital Visitor
, a social media and marketing agency for travel and tourism organisations globally.
NB2:Kicks ass and brain images via Shutterstock.