Whenever we buy something online we nearly always evaluate the item's usefulness. Our brain's automatically ask questions to determine if buying product X is a “good" purchase decision. Should I buy this? Is this product / service worth the money? Will I even use this product or service?
That's all fine and dandy, but what happens if we're unsure? Well, we will probably do one of two things:
- Ponder over the decision for a while, going back and forth between "yes" buy it, or "no" don't bother
- Or we'll ask someone else for their opinion
For this reason, online reviews play a crucial role in persuading other people to invest in your business.
"Social Confirmation": The Psychology Behind Reviews
Someone else's opinion can drastically sway and influence our own thinking - especially when you a) trust that particular person's opinion, or b) if multiple strangers are all saying the same thing. This pattern of thinking is called social confirmation. Social confirmation is a mental wonder where people mirror someone else's actions with the hope of reaping similar rewards.
For example "So, if everyone online rates this company a 5/5, this means I'll probably think they are fantastic too!" Displaying a range of positive, credible reviews on your website (or your Google listing) is a great way to boost your business' trustworthiness, brand reputation and overall sales.
How To Obtain More Online Reviews
There is one simple rule to obtaining online reviews – if you don't ask, you don't get...
Take a look at this list of ways to encourage online reviews:
- Calling Your Customers - If you have a well-established, personal relationship with a long-standing customer you could give them a quick call to discuss how they feel about your service. If they praise your business you can ask their permission to quote what they say.
- Emailing Your Customers - If you wanted to take a more formal approach to collecting reviews you could put together a polite email with an attached PDF for people to fill out. Don't be disheartened if you don't receive too many replies, remember that people are busy bees with various priorities in the working day. If you don't hear back, drop them a follow-up email or give them a quick call to explain how beneficial their review would be for your business. Please be careful not to hound or pester your customers, following up once or twice is more than enough.
- You Could Also Dispatch "Product Review" Emails - If a customer has recently purchased an item from you you could then send out an automated email a week or so after asking them for their thoughts and opinions. This is a proven technique used by the likes of Amazon and eBay to collect reviews.
- Embedded Website Reviews - Another fantastic way to encourage online reviews is to add a plugin or "review section" to your website, especially if your business sells a selection of products. Visitors browsing your website can immediately see your reviews to help them make an informed decision.
- Social Media - Social media is a fantastic customer service tool. Potential clients will often take a look at a company's social media profile (especially the comments section) before deciding to purchase anything. For this reason, you should be replying to all enquiries within 24 hours. If you customer happens to write a raving review online you can ask their permission to publish it on your actual website, or you could even kindly ask them to write you a Google review too.
- Incentives - Customers love being rewarded for their efforts! Obviously a customer is far more likely to complete a short review if they receive something in return like a discount code or a special offer.
- Conduct An Employee Competition - Incentives are a two way street, you can offer incentives to customers as well as staff. You could start a friendly competition to encourage your staff to participate. An enticing price for winning could be a hamper or vouchers.
S.O.S - What Happens If The Reviews Are Negative?
When it comes to online reviews, ignorance isn't always bliss. It's always better to acknowledge criticism rather than ignore it. The best way to resolve the situation is to respond. Ask the client to explain what's happened to make them feel this way about your business. After getting to the root of the problem you can work on a resolution.
If your business is genuinely in the wrong, then you should admit blame and apologise. Always try to convert that customer's journey from a negative into a positive. Changing a customer's opinion about your company is a great basis for a testimonial. If the customer is being unreasonable (swearing and shouting in the review) and is unwilling to resolve the situation, then you should reply once expressing your concern and offer to call them back for a more private conversation. Learn more about how to deal with bad online reviews with this article - How To Deal With Bad Reviews For Your Business In Google
It's simple maths really, the more positive reviews you have, the more credible your business becomes. We live in a society where people are very caution when buying / trying new things. It's no longer enough to say "we have over X years' experience in our industry" or "we focus on providing excellent customer service". You need to back-up your words with solid evidence from people who have actually dealt with your company; for this reason, reviews are your golden ticket to solidify your brand as trustworthy and reliable.