Why You Should Actively Ask For Customer Reviews

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Ask for Customer Reviews

Nothing can make you feel better than reading a glowing review about your company on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google+, Amazon, you name it. Of course, the reverse is also true: nothing stings quite like a negative review.

Of course, how to get customer reviews — especially those positive ones! — can be challenging. And one question we hear is whether you should actively ask for reviews. Our answer? YES. Here’s why.

Reviews DO influence buying decisions. According to Digital Visitor, “Over 60% of customers read online reviews before buying a product or service to help them to eliminate any doubts they may have or to help with product/service selection.” See? It’s not just about your ego. The same article notes, “92% of users trust recommendations from people they know, while 70% trust consumer opinions posted online.”

And according to this recent study, “The majority (65 percent) of potential consumer electronics purchasers are inspired by a consumer review to select a brand that had not been in their original consideration set.”

But should you ask customers for reviews? Isn’t it a little too self-serving? It’s easy to think the good, the bad, and the ugly are all part of doing business, right? And you might think you should just let the review engines work on their own, meaning when a customer feels moved to write a review — good or bad — you should just let it happen.

And to a certain extent, that’s true. But then there’s this important point that you can’t ignore: Negative reviews hurt business. According to Marketing Pilgrim, “80 percent of shoppers change purchase decision based on negative reviews.” What’s the best way to combat a negative review? More positive ones, which is why it’s imperative you remind your happy customers to consider posting a review.

Like everything else you’ve learned about business, one of the best ways to get the sale is to ask for it directly. The same holds true for reviews. While there will always exist a certain segment of society that wants to provide feedback on their experiences with a product, service, or company, there’s a whole other segment of the population that needs to be made aware that they CAN leave a review and they need to be reminded that they should.

So, how, when, and where should you ask for customer reviews? Here are some suggestions:

  • Social media: Facebook works well for this. Share a snippet of a positive review as a status update and remind people that you welcome reviews from fans (and then include a link to the review site, be it Amazon, Yelp, LinkedIn, Google+).
  • Directly ask some of your best customers/clients. You know the folks we mean: your tribe, as Seth Godin calls them, your evangelists. A simple email asking them to leave a review (and including a link to the site) is usually enough to do the trick.
  • Remind people on invoices, product packaging, order confirmations, shipping confirmations, etc. Including simple notes, such as “If you liked X, consider leaving a review on Yelp,” might just be the prompt that some people need.

Should you respond to negative reviews? The short answer is no. And you shouldn’t delete them, either. Approach negative reviews as an opportunity: if it makes sense and if you have contact info, reach out privately to the person and address his or her concerns. When people write negative reviews, often what they’re looking for is to be heard. So listen to their complaints and see if you can rectify the situation. Sure, there will be times when you can’t please an unhappy customer, and you’ll need to accept that you’ve probably lost that person’s future business. But making the effort to reach out to unhappy customers could have a surprising effect: the person might edit his or her negative review and/or tell people about his or her experience, and, if you’re lucky, give you a second chance. Need more ideas? Here are five more strategies for navigating negative reviews.

Should you “buy” reviews? NO! You might be thinking, “Wait! Is this even an option?” Yep. In fact, the digital publishing world was rocked last summer over the fact some authors buy reviews for sites like Amazon (and some even posted fake or negative reviews on their competitors’ books). Steer clear of this tactic. It’s much better to have a handful of “real” reviews than a ton of skimpy, fawning, and suspect five-star reviews. (Here are seven tips for spotting fake reviews.)

Do you ask your customers for reviews? If yes, what strategies do you use? Share in the comments.

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