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Make the most of customers' web reviews

customer web reviews_detail

For your small business, a solid reputation is crucial. When it comes to understanding what your customers think, there is nothing more valuable than their feedback. 

Properly managed, reviews can form an in-depth picture of your firm’s performance – what works, what doesn’t and how you can improve. Furthermore, a robust reviews strategy can power incredible benefits, from improved online traffic to a boosted bottom line. 

The following five-step plan can help you build a solid reviews strategy that will have you hearing from your customers, and seeing improvements in your business. 

Know where reviews are coming from

There are review sites that allow anybody to sign up, log in and say whatever they like about your company, whether they’ve bought anything or had an experience or not. A quick search for reviews can reveal conversations about your business that you know nothing about. The problem is, tracking down feedback on the net can be time-consuming. Worse still, some sites will charge you to reply, meaning you’ll have to dig deep to defend your business.

Use a review platform

Instead of hunting down feedback manually, avoid your customers from posting elsewhere by using a third-party review platform. There are different options, but a solution that invites only genuine customers to leave reviews once they’ve made a purchase means you’re less likely to miss out on any responses. Furthermore, matching a review to a transaction rules out the possibility of fakes.

Respond quickly

The benefit of knowing reviews are real means that when you’re responding, you’re dealing with a legitimate customer. Whether thanking a satisfied buyer for their feedback or resolving any issues when something has gone wrong, responding promptly is the best way to demonstrate fantastic customer service.

Deal with negatives

While glowing reviews can help show off your business, the occasional negative rating is nothing to be afraid of. For a start, potential customers prefer to see a balance when checking reviews. A study by the Harvard Business School revealed that the majority of consumers trust feedback more when they see good and bad scores. In fact, 95 per cent actually suspect you’re moderating reviews if they don’t see any negatives.

Resist the urge to sweep negatives under the rug, and instead use the opportunity to turn the situation around. According to the National Association of Retail Marketing, 95 per cent of shoppers said they would return after a bad experience if the issue was dealt with promptly. Respond publicly, and let other shoppers know see the outstanding service they can expect when things don’t quite go to plan. 

Reviews are just the start

Reviews can be used to benefit every area of your business. Google uses a verified list of third-party platforms to generate star ratings, both in organic listings and as Seller Ratings in AdWords campaigns. According to Google, these stars can boost clicks on ads by 17 per cent, driving more quality traffic to your website.

Once on-site, reviews act as trust signals, helping to boost confidence in buying decisions: a Kissmetrics study found that adding reviews can boost conversions by more than 35 per cent.

Andrew Mabbutt is CEO at reviews and customer analytics company Feefo