Do you own an emerging small business and want to know what customers think about you? Have you been in business a while and need to grow your fan base? Are you curious about what you’re doing right (or wrong) for your customers?
Turns out, there’s an easy way to solve all of these problems: testimonials and customer reviews.
Testimonials and Reviews: Why You Want Them
They might seem like a hassle (or you might have a bad taste in your mouth from some negative ones), but reviews and testimonials are one of the best ways to inspire potential customers to trust you. Every business is going to toot their own horn and say how great they are, but customer reviews add a layer of accountability that supports those claims of greatness.
It’s called “social trust” and it’s one of the many reasons why social media is so popular. People tend to automatically trust things that other people approve of.
You may have visited a website recently that shows you which of your Facebook friends enjoy that page. (TripAdvisor is one example. IWantClarity.com is another.) That’s social trust in action. The underlying idea is that you will be more likely to trust (and therefore revisit) that page if you see other people enjoying it.
Customer reviews and testimonials do the same thing. Wouldn’t you be more likely to trust a company with glowing reviews over one that only boasted of its own success?
Where To Get Them
So now that we’ve convinced you to add a little social influence to your website, how do you collect these reviews? I’m glad you asked….
1. Existing Online Sources
Start by doing a little reconnaissance: scour the web’s most popular review sites for existing reviews on your company. Google+, Yelp, and Angie’s List are good places to start, as they accept reviews for a wide variety of businesses, but it’s a good idea to search review sites specific to your industry as well.
If you own a moving company, you’ll want to check your reviews on a site like MovingCompanyReviews.com. Restaurant owners should hop on over to Urban Spoon. If your business isn’t listed, take the time to create a listing, so future reviewers will have a spot to post an honest review.
2. Existing Offline Reviews
You may even find great reviews a bit closer to home. Start by looking at the comments on your website and blog (you do have a blog, right?). Next, read through recent emails (or listen to voicemails) to see if customers wrote (or called) in with something great to say about you. If you do a particularly bang-up job, happy customers will sometimes take time out of their busy schedules to let you know about it.
Just make sure you ask permission before using these types of reviews in your marketing. Since these testimonials were originally sent to you in a private format, the customer probably assumed they were going to remain that way.
3. Ask For Them
If you don’t have any testimonials or reviews yet (maybe you’re a new business or your customers aren’t that great at being proactive), the easiest way to get a great review is to just ask for them.
Send out a courtesy email to your best customers and/or regulars, asking them for a brief testimonial. Or simply ask each of your customers to give you a great review on a specific site. (“Thank you, sir. Your change is $2.49. And when you get home, make sure to review us on Yelp. We’re trying to spread the word and your feedback would really help!”)
What To Do With Them
Now that you’ve got a handful of great reviews, what do you do with them?
Take the best reviews (the well-written, positive, thorough ones) and post them on your website for potential customers to see. There are a few ways of doing this:
- Create a separate “Testimonials” page that lists your most glowing reviews
- Feature your favorite testimonials in a rotating slider on your homepage
- Post a couple of good reviews on each page of your site, so visitors won’t have to go looking for them
Another way to point people toward your great reviews—without looking like you’re bragging—is to add a simple footer (on your website or other promotional material) that lists the various sites where you have great reviews. Let the customers visit for themselves to see what other people have to say.
Sure, they may come across one or two negative reviews (you can’t please everybody), but that’s the price of transparency. While we’re on the subject….
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When You Get a Negative Review
They’re certainly not pretty, but they do happen. So it’s worth tackling the question of what to do when you get a negative review. We’ve already gone over the right and wrong way to respond to a bad review, but once you’ve gotten over the initial shock and dealt with that one customer’s feedback, how do you move forward?
First, realize that a bad review is just one bad review. If 99% of your customers love you, you can let that one disgruntled customer’s comments slide right off your back. After all, there’s no use uprooting your entire business model just to please one or two people.
If, however, you’re seeing the same complaints crop up time and time again (especially if those complaints are causing you to lose customers), you might want to consider making a few changes. After all, there’s a fine line between “confidence” and “stubbornness.”
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention one key point: whether you acknowledge their existence or not, testimonials and reviews are already working for you (or against you, depending on whether you’re good at your job). Due to the viral nature of the internet, millions of people have access to a review as soon as it’s posted, so no matter how long a review has been up there, you should assume that thousands have already seen it.
Either way, you have two possible responses: 1) ignore the reviews, cross your fingers, and hope everything works out for you, or 2) leverage their social power and use it to fuel your business.
Now that you can appreciate the value in a good review, spread the love a little bit. Take the time to write your own reviews of companies that you have enjoyed dealing with (like Clarity Creative, perhaps?). Just make sure you take the time to craft a well-written review. Three words isn’t gonna cut it.
Clarity Creative Group is a web design & internet marketing company located in beautiful Orlando, Florida. Seriously, though. We’d love a comment or review.