writing customer reviews, even for products we’d recommend to our friends in a heartbeat, sounds almost as exciting as getting a root canal. What do I say, how do I start, why does it matter … you know what … I’m just too busy.
For that matter, asking for customer reviews isn’t much more exciting. Who do I ask, what if they say no, how can I be sure they’ll have good things to say, what’s the ROI of a positive review … you know what … I’m just too busy.
Why are customer reviews important?
In today’s day and age it’s very easy to be cynical. You’ll never see an advertisement for the second best car, the toothpaste you should buy only if a better brand is sold out or a gym letting people know how few people actually use the memberships that they pay for.
Making a bad personal investment is bad enough but when purchasing products and services for your workplace you never want to have to go back to your boss and say “well, the ads said it would do what we needed”.
Why are customer reviews important? They’re important because they help to alleviate fears. They’re important because a buyer can see how your offer is used in the real world. They’re important because they act as a countermeasure to those that will try to discredit your brand.
Can reviews really be forced?
You can’t demand good reviews and pretending to be your own best customer is a recipe for disaster. Positive reviews can only come from happy customers.
So, how can you ask for customer reviews?
When asking for reviews your single responsibility is to identify advocates you already have and remove as many barriers as possible. You can’t ask your customers to be happy and you can’t ask your customers to put their own reputation on the line to support something they‘re not a fan of but you can make it easier for those already satisfied to share their messages.
Step 1: Make it obvious and painless for your customers to provide feedback
Make sure that it’s easy for your customers to reach when something goes wrong and make sure that you respond to every inquiry. Correspondingly, make sure it’s easy for your customers to reach you when they’re successful and remember to recognize that feedback.
When looking for customer reviews there is simply no better place to start than those people that have explicitly reached out to share their thoughts … never ignore your customers or ask them to fill out long forms when more direct channels are available.
Step 2: Look for those already talking about you online
Your customers may not be writing reviews, but they are discussing your brand. Take a few minutes and look for what people are saying today:
- Start with a search for your company name
- Use negative searches (i.e. MyProduct –BrianMakas) to eliminate your own comments and other unrelated Tweets
- Try searching for specific product names, needs you address or even competitor names
- Search for recent comments by clicking on “search tools” and selecting a date range
- Try searching for sites linking to you with “link:YourWebsite.com”
- Filter yourself out with the negative search “-site:YourWebsite.com”
- Google images provides the ability to search by an actual picture, try searching by your logo
Step 3: Follow up, be specific and do the heavy lifting
By now you’ve identified customers that are already talking about your product. If you’ve found people that are already praising your work, great! Reach out. Thank them for the kind words. Ask if they’d be willing to elaborate and hold their hand throughout the process. Don’t just send them a link to a form … giving them the excuse to do nothing … well you can guess the rest.
If you’ve encountered unhappy customers, that’s even better … assuming that is you took the time to quickly resolve their issues and put them back on the path to success. Again, unless you ask for feedback you won’t get it. Follow up after the issue has been resolved, ask if you can provide any further assistance, explain the importance of a success story and how you’ll both benefit from the content.
What did you think of this article?
Agree or disagree, let us know your thoughts. What one point did you find most valuable? What other techniques have you applied? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or feel free to reach out directly on Twitter to @BrianMakas or@Desk.