The wind carries them away, but the standing water left in a hurricane’s wake is a mosquito’s favorite place to reproduce.
Your reputation is largely created by your customers. It’s possible to have a deep hand in shaping it, but without people talking about you, you’re just tooting your own horn. Nobody appreciates the constant blare of self-promotion.
Your content is often kindling, but what catches the blaze is the inclusion of customer reviews on your website. This is crucial if you run an eCommerce website. Here’s why.
Extra production capacity
Put your thesaurus away. There are no additional words to be found which will help you explain how good your product or service is. Besides, both customers and prospects don’t want to hear that information from you, anyway. They want to hear it from others.
Customers want to hear it from other customers because it serves to validate their decision. They’ll buy from you again. Prospects want to hear it from – well, just about anybody but you. All these people want to hear what other people just like themselves think of you. Are your products or services good or bad? How do you, as a company, engage with your customers?
This story can’t be told by you, but it certainly needs to be facilitated by you. It happens two ways:
- Customers leave reviews on your eCommerce website.
- Customers leave reviews using search engines like Yahoo and Google, directory sites like Yelp, or on social media.
What happens when your customers leave reviews?
Truly wonderful things. Even if they say you suck.
More important than anything else, customer reviews are how people today make buying decisions. Research shows that 90 percent of consumers read online reviews. Then, almost as much – 98 percent of those who read online reviews trust what they read.
You are literally leaving 9 out of 10 customers in the dark. No matter how thoroughly you promote your product or service with marketing and advertising, and you charge up your sales funnel with content, what they want to see is what others have to say.
But, what happens if an unhappy customer rains all over your parade? Others want to see how you respond. They’re curious to see what you do about a bad review. In some respects, your reputation is more powerfully established by these engagements than by words of praise.
Insight and perspective
Reviews about your engagement with customers – good and bad – give people the ability to see your business from a people-perspective. It’s no longer just about features and benefits.
Reviews and your engagement with them also allow you to convey your personality. You’re able to tell the story of your WHY more thoroughly. Nobody’s perfect. You’ll never have 100 percent customer satisfaction, but what you can have instead is a broad blanket of trust that’s built through transparency. You can draw suspicion if you are too good to be true.
And don’t forget about Google. The online search giant draws data from reviews – especially external ones – for its results. Sure, positive reviews are the objective. They’ll help you with organic search results. Good or bad, it’s free advertising.
A jury of your peers
Social media is a powerful amplifier for reviews. Free advertising is awesome, but peer recommendations are gold. Research shows that we trust peer recommendations more than advertising, especially when those sources are credible. And, who is more credible than our friends and relatives?
In 2015, Nielsen undertook a survey of 30,000 Internet users from 58 countries. The organization concluded that 83 percent of us trust recommendations from people we know, while overall, 70 percent of those surveyed said they generally trust consumer opinions they read online from strangers.
Smart companies have realized the massive opportunity of harnessing the criticism and suggestions they get from online customer reviews. It’s a free source of information for product improvement and innovation, as well as a way to uncover new products and services to further cement customer loyalty.
Customers who leave reviews are certainly judging you – but what’s key here is that you are being handed an opportunity to develop closer relationships with them. If they take the time to tell you what they think, take the time to engage and do something about it. They represent the silent majority who won’t say anything. If something’s not right, they’ll just go away.