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How to use use reviews to increase persuasion across the customer journey

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 05 May, 2016
Essential Essential topic

Examples of how customer reviews can be used for both B2C and B2B companies. Are you using them to your full advantage?

The vast majority of people, including you and I, read customer reviews before buying a product. We place a lot of importance on what others are saying about a product or website based on their previous experiences. So it’s a given that product ratings, reviews, comments and feedback given on social media sites can affect your business massively.

Customer Reviews are a Powerful Sales Tool in B2B Marketing

Considering the influence such user-generated content has on your buyers, it is no surprise that customer reviews are considered as the “new frontier in word-of-mouth marketing,” and perhaps suprisingly this also includes customer reviews for B2B companies. According to TechValidate research, 94 percent of marketing and sales professionals from B2B industry consider customer reviews and ratings ‘as very effective or extremely effective’. Still not convinced? Consider the following scenarios:

  • How many times have you checked Yelp or Zomato before choosing a restaurant to dine at?
  • Don’t you check Trip Advisor often before booking a hotel?
  • Do you check client testimonials before purchasing a service from a company for the first time?
  • Do you check customer reviews and ratings before buying anything from Amazon.com?

All these are enough to establish the fact that customer reviews are a powerful sales tool. However, to use them to your advantage you need to first win your customers’ trust and brand loyalty, which typically comes from exceptional customer service. Also, do not just ask your existing customers to write just about the outcome of their purchase. Rather, focus on their entire buying experience and find ways to enhance that.

The best type of B2B reviews go beyond information about the product to include information about the brand experience such as: Where did they hear about your brand, including the channels involved? What was their first impression about the product/service? Did the end result resonated with the first impression? What about the customer service? Did you manage to establish a personal connection? And finally, will they come back to you or refer your product/service?

A customer review that addresses all these factors is what you need to understand customer perception and make the changes needed to improve brand loyalty. In a B2B context, they can also be followed-up upon to gain testimonials that can be used beyond product pages.

An additional benefit of user-generated reviews is that they can help you improve your organic search results as Google and other search engines consider customer reviews when determining your ranking on search result pages. This, in turn, improves your brand visibility and traffic flow, which again has a positive impact on your brand awareness and sales.

Let's now look at how you can harness reviews more within the customer journey.

Featuring customer reviews on your website across the customer journey

As stated, product reviews provide the best form of word of mouth marketing for your brand. They help you win the trust of your customers and prospects as well as boost your brand name. However, sharing them with the right people and through the right platform is the key. Unfortunately, many businesses just feature them loosely on their websites in the product pages without thinking how they can be used elsewhere in the customer journey.

One approach for using reviews beyond product pages is to feature unedited reviews somewhere on the homepage or at a prominent location where visitors can see them easily. Also, include the name and photo of the customer (if possible) so that it looks authentic. If the review is for some specific products, it is better to feature them on the respective product pages.

Using reviews on Social Media profiles

In addition, you can share your customer reviews on your social media pages. Chances are you already have Facebook and Twitter fan pages for your brand. Why not share your online reviews on these social networking sites as well to improve your brand credibility? To further improve your brand authority, add the link of the site where the review was originally published especially if it is a niche site related to your particular industry.

Taking a consumer example, see how D’free, an anti-dandruff lotion brand highlights their customer reviews not only on their website but also on their Facebook account along with the customer’s real-life image with their product to promote their brand.

Dfee

Leveraging review sites

Do not stop at just sharing your online reviews on your social media business pages. They are the powerhouse of your business reputation; people post their opinions and experiences regarding various brands, products and services on these sites. Besides, these review sites allow users to search for different types of products and services as well as list the name of the companies based on the number of reviews and ratings. It, therefore, makes no sense if you aren’t using them to your advantage.

Target the top review sites such as Google Local, Yelp, Yahoo Local and LinkedIn, etc. as well as other niche review sites related to your business. List your business along with a link to your website and keep your eyes open to what people are saying about you on these websites.

Responding to reviews on third party sites

No matter, if it is a small thank you note. Responding them would make a good impression and it can turn a buyer into a repeat customer. This is what an Ahmedabad-based luxurious restaurant did when they found a customer praising them on Zomato. Voila! They just nailed it.

customer reviews

Dealing with negative reviews

Understand that these third-party review sites will publish anything and everything people will write about your business without editing them. And not all your customers are happy with you. This means, negative reviews are inevitable and one such review can cost your business to lose many new customers at a go. According to a Harvard University research, a 1-star difference on Yelp review can cause 5 to 9 percent in business gained or lost.

It is therefore, essential to handle negative reviews correctly instead of being cynical and not having a presence on online review sites. The secret lies in turning your irate customers into happy and loyal ones. While this easier said than done, it is not impossible to achieve. Think of negative reviews as opportunities to earn brand evangelists who can boost your online reputation.

Take time to read and then respond to each of the negative feedback thoughtfully. Be apologetic and empathize with them without blaming the customer even if he/she is not right to blame you. Doing otherwise will definitely cost you their business. Make up for the mistake and ask for a second chance; your first goal is to calm down the customer and then come to a logical solution. Once you have resolved the issue, ask the customer share his/her second experience by updating the review.

Such strategy shows that you are truly committed to your customers and will give you a long-term staying power even in a highly competitive market.

The below example shows how you can turn any situation, if dealt properly. In the first review, the customers seemed pretty annoyed and frustrated with the storage company. But the company responded thoughtfully and explained the real situation to the customer and also took out time to discuss the issue directly with the customer and resolved the issue. The result was amazing. The customer updated the review and gave them a 5-star rating and a great feedback. Such reviews can be helpful to any business, when it comes to brand building.

turn bad review around

Conclusion

Whether you have a large brick-and-mortar store or a small online business, providing exceptional customer service will pay rich dividends in the long haul. One positive review from a happy customer will help you earn the trust of thousand others and is worth more than those adverts you create every year to capture a lead. Better yet, it won’t even cost your thousands of dollars. Better still, buyers tend to trust a company that has a large number of positive customer reviews. So if you have explored this side of your business yet, the time is now.

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