Nothing in a marketing plan will ever speak louder than word of mouth. Never underestimate the impact that reviews and testimonials from the past and current customers can have on potential customers’ willingness to do business. Like most things, though, there is a right way and a wrong way to get this accomplished. Here are a few tips for making the most out of your customers’ experiences.
Start and maintain a presence on as many social media outlets as possible. Facebook has a built-in ability to gather reviews from anyone that likes and visits your page. Google offers a whole suite of tools with Google Reviews and Google Maps which are both tied into a Google page. Creating a page there really helps with connecting the dots for your customers. Also, network on LinkedIn and create a profile for your business there. Encourage those that you do business with to leave recommendations. And don’t forget YouTube. You can set up a channel and encourage your customers to send in video tutorials, something that can be very powerful.
Dial In Your Review Focus
You want to really hit sites that focus on your industry. For instance, if you are in travel, you would want to hit TripAdvisor, Expedia, Travelocity, etc. It’s those kinds of sites that most people look to for reviews from serious users. You can quickly earn a reputation through these sites, it’s up to you what reputation that is.
Don’t Sweat the Negatives
You always want to do your best for your customers and make them happy. However, sometimes people just can’t be pleased. Or sometimes something just goes completely out of your control. Sometimes, a customer is having a bad day. Negative reviews will come, but it’s not all bad. No one expects you to have a spotless record, people know it happens. You will actually look fake if you have 100 reviews and they are all positive, no one will believe it. The key is in how you respond to those complaints. Many sites let you as the business owner respond to reviews. Take that opportunity to mend fences and show potential customers that you do care.
Always Watch Your Feedback
Sometimes your best testimonials don’t come from reviews; some of your most powerful statements may come in emails or in letters. Don’t leave these out. With the customers’ permission, of course, use these testimonials as further evidence of how great your business is.
Let the World Know
When you get great testimonials and feedback, you need to share it. Make a post on one of your social media sites and share your customers’ experiences. And do not neglect showing off testimonials on your website. There are lots of ways to do this, but it’s a powerful tool
Cheaters Never Prosper
It is tempting to want to tip the scale in your favor and maybe sweeten up the reviews and testimonials. Maybe create a fake account and leave a flowery review that makes you look like the greatest company that has ever been. Or maybe pay people to review your business, this is another no-no. The bottom line is, people can read between the lines and will know when they spot a fake. In fact, many review sites actually have algorithms that detect fake reviews- usually an exceptionally glowing review with a recently opened account and only your review. If you get caught by the site and flagged, you will make the site suspicious of ANY positive review and risk getting them removed. Even worse you could get banned from the site and lose visibility.
Reviews and testimonials can be powerful tools for gaining new customers, and perhaps saving customers who had a bad experience. Just remember to get yourself out there as much as possible, be social, and be real. If you are doing business the right way then you don’t need to fear the words of your customers.