It didn’t start with the internet and smartphones. Consumers have relied on the recommendation and referrals of friends and family when making decisions on what products, brands and services to buy for about as long as there have been products, brands and services to buy.
Whether buying a new car, selecting an electrician or finding a family physician, the experience and opinions of people we know and trust is a key driver of sales for businesses across virtually all industries.
What’s new with today’s wired consumer is now almost 9 out of 10 people trust online recommendations from strangers as much as a personal recommendation.
Successful businesses, big and small, work tirelessly to build their reputations. It can be a point of differentiation in the marketplace and a key reason why a consumer connects – or doesn’t connect – with your organization. While you can’t buy or control the “voice of the customer”, businesses can take several basic steps to listen to what consumers are saying online and build a strategy to use that important feedback to improve and grow.
Your online reputation is one of those situations where ignorance is not bliss. You need to constantly monitor what consumers are saying about your business because what they’re saying will affect your business. How depends on what you do with their feedback.
Given the increased willingness of consumers of virtually all ages to write reviews, it’s important to make this a routine part of your marketing process. This can be a challenge for any size organization if done manually. Fortunately, there are automated solutions that consolidate client reviews in a central database and notify you automatically when a review is posted on a monitored site.
Now that you know what is being said, use the information – positive or negative -to improve and grow your business. Customer reviews provide insight into the wants and needs of the marketplace and whether your organization is meeting expectations.
Engage with customers when appropriate to acknowledge a problem, recommend a solution or to thank a satisfied customer for their business. Either way, use this feedback as an opportunity to build upon your strengths and identify weaknesses or gaps in your customer service or product/service offering.
Generating a stream of positive reviews in not an easy task and there is no quick-fix method to accomplish this goal. Stay away from paying 3rd parties to say great things about your business or worse yet writing fake reviews.
Instead, look for those situations within your business where you made a strong connection with a customer and politely ask for and guide the client through the review process. Do this on a regular basis to build a portfolio of genuine feedback and use this information on your website, newsletters, social media posts and sales collateral material.
Given the impact ratings and reviews have on driving consumer engagement and sales, businesses should not ignore their role when developing their online marketing strategy. It’s basic customer service….listen to what buyers are saying, address areas of concern and reinforce what you are doing right.
It will help you capture more shoppers and convert them into buyers.