Get the most out of your customer reviews

Customer reviews are a powerful and cost-effective way to drive more sales, raise awareness and reputation.

Whether it’s Trustpilot, Ekomi, Google Maps or trade specific sites, great online reviews can help small businesses soar. Making the most of customer reviews is a powerful and cost-effective way to drive more sales, raise awareness and reputation and even boost your presence on search engine results.

According to Trustpilot, (one of the most popular review platforms) over 90% of consumers say reading online reviews is part of their purchase decision process. In fact, three-quarters of shoppers say they trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. Research also suggests that consumers are willing to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews.

The case for encouraging customers to leave positive online reviews is a no-brainer.

Here we explore ways that small businesses are using online customer reviews to supercharge their marketing efforts, while also ensuring that negative reviews do not leave a black mark on their brand.

1 - Putting the foundations in place

If you are new to reviews, a great place to start is Google My Business. As Google explains, this is a free service that helps you attract and engage customers, giving you a presence on Google Search and Maps and allowing you to respond to Reviews.

One business owner who has seen the power of positive Google reviews is Donna Evans, Founder of She Moves - a female run removal company based in South Wales. As she explains, a growing bank of over 60, 5-star reviews from happy customers are a ‘seal of approval’ that have helped her grow her business, increasing hits on her website. Encouraging customers to leave reviews, and showcasing positive feedback has proven invaluable.

Berlin-based wellness brand VAAY uses to gather positive-review content from its customers which it then uses on social media to help educate others about their products.

Google isn’t the only company that offers a review platform. From Trustpilot to Yelp and Feefo, each offers different services to support businesses who want to connect with customer feedback. It is worth exploring your options, balancing costs with the support each offers its clients.

2 - Encouraging customer reviews - make the ask!

68% of customers will leave a review if they’re asked - make sure to include links to your business’ review profiles on e-receipts, invoices, newsletters and your website to make it as easy as possible. You can also make use of automated, personalised feedback reminder emails to customers - a feature some review platforms offer as part of their packages.

Offline, you can get creative. Trustpilot customers receive Feedback Stickers to add to parcels - you can use attractive flyers and inserts. Let your customers know what a big difference reviews can make to your small business, and that their support is truly valued. Knowing they are supporting your dream can be very powerful.

However, be careful about offering rewards for reviews. Sites like Google and Yelp have strict policies in place that prohibit businesses from giving incentives for reviews. Both review platforms and customers are becoming more aware of ‘fake’ reviews, so don’t be tempted to do anything other than encourage real, honest reviews from real customers.

3 - Managing negative online reviews of your business

Some business owners worry about encouraging reviews in case they receive less-than-glowing, public feedback. In reality, a business with nothing but 5* reviews may look a little suspicious! Trustpilot found that ‘68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad ones’.

Getting a bad review isn’t the end of the world. When 89% of consumers read businesses' responses; a good response to a bad review can turn it all around.

Here’s how to handle a poor review.

Respond quickly - Make sure to regularly check new reviews and don’t just ignore bad ones. Just as you should thank customers for leaving good reviews, a negative review needs a swift response so it doesn’t fester on your profile.

As highlighted by TrustPilot, Oasis Fashion responds to every review - thanking customers and making them feel heard. When the review is negative they respond quickly and professionally without entering into an argument. This has helped them turn negatives into a positive.

Don’t take it personally, but do be a person! - Remain calm and don’t be tempted to get into an online argument. Don’t go on the defensive. Share how concerned you are to hear of a poor experience and that you would like to help resolve the issue quickly.

Take it offline - In responding to a poor online review, thank the reviewer for sharing feedback and ask to speak to them privately offline so that the issue can be resolved. Nine times out of ten, feeling they have been heard is enough to encourage them to remove or amend the review.

A final thought… all feedback is good feedback
Reviews don’t just help increase visibility and reputation. The beauty of reviews is that they are opportunities to learn. Positive reviews can help you know what you need to do more of, just as negative feedback can indicate what needs extra attention.

Any chance you have to connect, communicate and understand your customers better is an opportunity to build a better, stronger and more profitable business. As Madrid based La Farmacia del Baby, which uses the Ekomi platform says, “we are very interested in knowing how the customer's experience has been from the first contact to the delivery of the package. Customer feedback is essential for correct decision-making, which can range from the incorporation of new product lines to changes in the different delivery options.”

That’s what makes online reviews a 5-star strategy for success.

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