A customer review, whether you love them or dread them, is an asset to your business because it provides an honest account of how well your business is currently performing. Regarding the product or service you’re trying to market, a review can help you improve business standards and increase revenue. In an age where the customer is always right, a business needs to pay attention to reviews if they wish to remain competitive.
As opposed to a business burying its head in the sand when a new batch of reviews are published online, Guy Arnold an employee expert believes that any market leader should be collecting them and using them to their advantage – a ‘buying signal’ in other words. Reviews can be a valuable way of signposting to potential customers whether they should consider purchasing your product. Many potential customers read reviews that are posted on online platforms before they decide to buy something, so if it’s a good review, they’re more than likely going to commit to a purchase.
Ensuring that reviews of your product or service attain the greatest readership is key when using a review to your advantage; Twitter and Trip Advisor are both great methods to use when achieving this. Remember to retweet any positive comments that someone posts about your business; if your business also likes the Tweet, then this is providing positive recognition between the business and potential clients and customers. Trip Advisor is probably the best online review tool if you’re a service-based business. Always try to make sure your profile is current, pictures are included and you translate the service description into multiple languages if you’d like to appeal to international markets.
Encouraging positive reviews
Catching your customers before they leave a bad review is always tricky, but is worth the hard work. If your customers come to you first with any problems rather than Trip Advisor, then this means you’ll be quicker to improve your service without the negative publicity. Any negative information that is distributed online is always out of your control, so as Arnold suggests, customers should be encouraged to “tell [the business] first if there’s a problem rather than post something on Trip Advisor”.
If you want your customers to do the hard work for you, then leave notes on a card or menu suggesting that if the customer has had a lovely meal, they should post a review online. This cuts back on the amount of negative reviews posted, because the customer is only encouraged to write a review if it is positive. Alternatively, customer loyalty schemes encourage customers who are treated as special clientele to leave positive comments about their experiences on online platforms. As well as this, café owners up and down the country – like Sam Slipper – are asking customers if they’ll take the time to write a review once they’ve left.
Bad reviews aren’t the end of the world
Never take a bad review personally, as there’s no such thing as a bad review. In the restaurant trade, Arnold claims that “people judge your restaurant on how you respond to customer reviews”. So, if you’re seen to be a business willing to change and adapt to meet the needs of your customers, this will produce long-term benefits. Being there for your customers during the good times and bad always puts you in front of your competitors.
As Slipper knows better than anyone, when a review is posted on Trip Advisor, it’s clear that you can’t please everyone. Knowing that her reviews have been ‘mixed’ between positive and negative, she claims that people only bother to “post if it’s negative”, and these tend to be “personal preferences and not actually bad experiences”.
What this means is that a business should always be changing in order to keep up with personal tastes and preferences the business can’t always account for, a balancing act between continued good service and meeting customer needs. As Slipper puts it: “The challenge is to make sure the customer experience is worth writing something good about!”
Positively utilising reviews
Using reviews within a PR campaign is a great way of utilising a free opinion to your advantage. As Arnold has rightfully argued, “reviews are a phenomenal free PR tool”. If you want to increase traffic to your website, then post positive reviews online in order to gain a portfolio of customers experiences that express the best of your brand.
Don’t forget the bad reviews too; by taking them on board, you can demonstrate how your business is quick to respond to customer feedback and that you can take on the responsibility for past mistakes. By keeping an eye on what customers really think of your business, this ensures you’re always ahead of the game when looking to meet their ever-changing needs.