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Practically every online shopper reads the ratings and opinions of others. As a first port of call when choosing what to buy, it helps them shop with confidence, discover new products and make the best decisions. But some businesses are making all the wrong moves with their customer feedback strategy; and it could be costing them – and their customers. Customer complaints have been widely documented online and through social media; the trick is knowing how to handle them.
Top tips on harmonising customer feedback
Here’s what NOT to do when it comes to managing your own online reviews; how you can maximise customer feedback to boost business and, ultimately, help people make better decisions.
DON’T: Take it personally
When you invest time, energy and money into building a solid reputation, it can be easy to take offence when a customer leaves a negative review – particularly when you feel it’s unjust. Argos have been known to handle this well when a man complaining to about them not having his desired item in stock was responded to in a light-hearted manner.
While firing back a snappy retort might make you feel better, savvy shoppers are watching; how you respond to other customers can make or break a potential sale.
Instead: Accept that, despite your best efforts, you can’t please everyone and things can go wrong. However legitimate you feel the negative review is, thank them for taking the time to leave their thoughts, respond professionally and accept responsibility.
DON’T: Sweep it under the rug
It’s true: a great review can reassure a customer that they’re making the best purchase; but you might be surprised to know that a negative review, if handled correctly, can actually work in your favour. For example, book store Waterstones handled a real life lock-in at one of its stores well. After being alerted on social media, the bookstore never put down their phone and were able to pick up this customer’s call for help quickly and provide an update and concise way publicly. While the customer did get millions of likes, retweets and his very own #freedavidwillis hashtag, the brand came out unscathed by responding quickly and transparently.
While pages of glowing testimonials and five-star reviews might look attractive, customers are quick to cotton-on to censorship and prefer to see a balance. In fact, 30% of online shoppers suspect foul-play when they don’t see any negative reviews.
Instead: Display all your reviews and use negatives as a platform to showcase your customer care. 26% of customers say it’s important to see a business responding to reviews – and if they see a professional response that demonstrates fantastic service, it can actually help your cause.
DON’T: Hope it will all blow over
Sometimes, a customer that has had a terrible experience will go to great lengths to share their feedback. Whether venting frustration, or reasonably questioning their experience, nearly a quarter of online shoppers have left comments or reviews after buying something online, Pew Research reports; so you should expect customers to share their thoughts. Cineworld’s twitter spat is an example of how customers will share their concerns publicly and how the debate can escalate.
While their negative experience may be outside of your control, feedback of this nature should be taken seriously – leaving questions, concerns or comments unanswered reflects badly on your business.
Instead: Show you care beyond the ‘buy now’ button. Address any concerns, answer any queries and resolve any issues quickly. 95% of customers that have had a bad experience, will return to use your business again if you resolve their issue promptly and efficiently [source: NARM]. And remember, if this is done publicly, potential customers will be reassured that in the event of an issue, they will be well looked after.
DON’T: Pay for positives . . . or negatives
While recent Feefo research revealed that 75% of consumers are influenced by good reviews, it might be tempting to think that buying a batch of positive reviews will help you stand out.
However, aside from being a legal grey area, there has been a major crackdown on fake reviews – and those selling them. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a probe into the issue last year, commanding review sites to clean up their act when it comes to moderation and authenticity. Online retailing giant, Amazon, took over 1,000 rogue reviewers to court for selling fake reviews, and have recently disallowed reviews to be left in exchange for discounted goods or services.
This applies to posting negative reviews on competitors’ sites also; by attempting to erode their reputation with a flurry of fakes, or lower their rating.
Instead: Subscribe to a mantra of trust and transparency with online reviews. Seek out best practice guidelines, root out fakes and take every opportunity to collect reviews from legitimate customers.
DON’T: Miss out on opportunities to listen, learn and grow
There’s no doubt, implementing a robust reviews strategy can add value to your business. From providing rich insights into your processes from the customers’ perspective, to offering a platform from which to offer outstanding customer care, reviews can be a gateway to tangible benefits.
Rather than trying to handle feedback yourself, review platforms exist that will collect and manage their collection on your behalf, and offer additional tools to make the most of them. Choosing the right solution for your business is half the battle; but what should you consider in order to maximise your feedback?
- Keep it real: Ensure there are checks in place to ensure your reviews are authentic. The most secure way is to only invite genuine customers; that have legitimately made a purchase from your business.
- Under the hood: Collecting reviews is just the start: make sure the review platform you choose offers a range of tools, such as analytics and reporting, benchmarking and insights, or features to help you keep track of – and respond to – all of your reviews.
- Stand out online: Some search engines, such as Google, use a list of verified review platforms to generate ratings in results pages that help your business stand out from crowd. In AdWords campaigns, reviews contribute to Seller Ratings, an automatic extension that, according to Google, can increase Click-Through-Rate on ads by an average of 17%, Google reports.
Reviews are powerful, but only when properly managed. By avoiding the pitfalls and maximising the benefits, the rich customer insights can be instrumental in enhancing sales and online visibility and building brand reputation and trust.
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