- Potential customers really do take notice of other people's opinions. Good reviews are an online version of personal recommendation (which of course still exists and is still incredibly important - it's just that putting a recommendation online widens its scope considerably). Favourable reviews give you credibility and give your customers confidence to make that purchase.
- How to get reviews? Ask for them but don't expect them - that way you won't be disappointed, because many customers won't leave one even if they're happy with the service (everyone has a busy life these days). I add my request as a PS to the emails I send out saying a parcel is on the way. I add a link where the customer can go to write their review.
- The more personal, friendly and helpful your
service and communication, the more likely you are to get a review.
- It's so easy to pop a customer review or feedback page on your website - just use some quotes from emails. Only identify your customers if you've got their permission to do so. Don't put a review page on your website until you actually have some good reviews - otherwise you're just drawing attention to the fact you have no reviews yet. Putting customer reviews on your website won't get you the search engine backing the same as having them on an independent site will (see below) but as long as they're genuine reviews, you could increase customer confidence in your site and positive reviews might encourage people to buy from you.
- Never, ever write reviews yourself! No matter how clever you think you're being with change of language use, different writing styles, etc., a fake review is usually pretty easy to spot - and if spotted it is potentially much more damaging than not having any on there in the first place. People don't like to be tricked or lied to.
- If you want to kickstart or bump up your reviews, have a giveaway. Your lucky recipients (yes, make it plural if gaining reviews is your aim) will probably be so thrilled to get something for nothing they'll be more than happy to leave you a review (if you ask them). Giveaways have other bonuses too - you're likely to gain followers across all your social media, including your blog, and raise your profile generally.
- Websites which have positive customer reviews on an independent site are favoured by Google. It's one of the many things Google looks at when ranking your site in the search engines. I cannot emphasise how important this point is - it's one of the tools you have as a tiny business to take on the big guys.
- It's easy to get reviews on an independent website. You could start with creating a page for yourself on Google Places. You can add your own business listing and direct customers over there to write reviews. There is an easy option for a short link to your Google Places page which you can pass onto your customers as the main link is impossibly long. If they don't want to click links from an email, they can search for you on there with some key phrases (try a few out then you can recommend the best one).
- I also use the UK-based Free Index and have an automatically updated list of reviews from Free Index on the home page of my website (Free Index supplies all this as copy-and-paste code). Google automatically picks up these reviews too and links to them from my Google Places page (though it's often a little bit behind in picking up the latest reviews).
Free Index provides lots of widgets you can use.
- The customer does have to register their email address and postcode with Free Index, which no doubt puts some people off - but it does ensure that the reviews are genuine. Free Index only works in the UK for UK customers, so its scope is limited. Google Places will work for any business and any customer anywhere in the world (as far as I know). However, they do need a Google account to write a review - opening a Google email account will do it.
- Whenever you have reviews on an independent site, you run the risk of getting a negative review - which will stay there. If this is just one poor review in 100 excellent ones, it won't matter too much (easy to say, I know!). Of course, it's best to try not to get poor reviews in the first place by going the extra mile, especially if the customer is unhappy in any way (great customer service can turn an unhappy customer into a thrilled customer). If the worst happens, you should have right of reply on the review site (you do on Free Index). Don't turn it into a slanging match (never pretty!) but respond in a professional way even if you feel the comment is unjustified. Think before you type!
So, there you have it - my quick guide to website reviews.
What do you think?
Do you use another review site or have you come across any as a buyer?
Does it ever irritate you to be asked for a review?
Are you thrilled when a customer emails you with their enthusiastic feedback? I always am!
Do you have any clever ideas for increasing customer reviews?
Please do leave a comment if you have anything to say - I always love to read your comments.