Updated: May 18
Once upon a time if a customer had a bad experience with a company, very few people would find out.
This is no longer the case. Customer reviews play a huge role in life now for small business owners.
We all know that someone can look up our track records on any number of sites designed to capture reviews these days.
Customer reviews are nothing new
Firstly customer testimonials have always been important for business owners. They are nothing new.
What is relatively new is the fact they are now online for everyone to see.
When you consider the process you go through yourself when deciding on a purchase I am sure you would look at a few customer reviews.
Possibly on Amazon, Argos or Trip Advisor. If the company in question has a very low rating and lots of bad reviews you probably won't be using them.
I have written another blog on that topic if you have been on the receiving end of low ratings What to do about a bad customer review
The following is a summary of 3 important elements to customer testimonials to keep in mind
1. Visibility of reviews = more sales
It is important to consider the visibility of your reviews. You can't control where people leave a review for you, but if they actually ask you then it is good to have a view on where it is most useful for you personally to have a review left.
It makes sense to stop and think about the process a customer is likely to go through when trying to research you.
Most people if they don't know a company will begin on Google. This makes it important to have a business profile on Google, including customer reviews. Having a profile set up on Google means people can 1) Find you on a map 2) Read testimonials from past customers 3) Refine their search to only high rated companies
I would also build up a secondary source of reviews on the sites you sell on, if you are product based, examples include Etsy, or Ebay. It also makes sense to use Facebook to curate recommendations because it is a relatively 'sticky' place in terms of social media.
It is quite hard to keep tabs on reviews left on Instagram or Twitter because of the way these function. Facebook also generates an overall rating.
2. A range of reviews shows a real company
Sadly fake reviews are cheap to buy. You can pay for someone else to leave you a 5 star rating but when you examine these reviews it is often very easy to see that these are fake.
By encouraging your genuine customers to rate their experiences with you, in their own language, with their own tone and context, you will help to show your authenticity & value to potential customers.
If you get the occasional 3 star rating, although it does mean your average drops, it gives people a chance to see how your company responds to customers who are not satisfied.
If focusing on customer service is important to you, then your average should stay high in any case over time.
3) Word of mouth is still king
Although we are really focusing on online reviews in this blog, you can be sure that if someone is taking the time to leave you a great online review, they will mention their experience to friends too.
There is nothing wrong with trying to encourage this by offering a pass on discount code to any customers who leave a review, or something else of value to them.
One popular podcast I listen to encourages people to leave reviews by offering to read out a couple per show, including a mention of the person who left them.
If you are a small business this is free publicity, so be sure to mention your company name when you leave reviews for others.
Thank you very much for reading.
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Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Agency based in SE London. Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing.