The strategy for acquiring genuine customer reviews is one of the biggest head scratchers in retail. Businesses have struggled for years to crack the code on how to gather customer input without alienating buyers with pushy emails and offers bordering on bribery. This issue begs the question: What factors motivate people to leave reviews? How can they be incentivized? And most importantly, how do you turn customer reviews into lasting relationships?
Here is a list of techniques that should shed some light on how to properly engage with customers to encourage product promotion.
1. Give your customers press of their own
You’re looking for free promotion...why not provide your customers with the same courtesy? Interact with reviewers on social media. Quote their reviews on your homepage. Post their names in a testimonial video. If your customer has a blog, you could offer to mention the site along with their review. Not only will this ensure customer loyalty, but it will also encourage other people on the fence about leaving a review to follow suit.
2. Capitalize on live interactions
One of the worst things a company can do for a review is wait. After purchasing a product, customers simply want to move on and not worry about surveys, reviews and any other arbitrary process that cuts into their day. In my experience, the best time to request a review is during a live chat session. If your interaction was positive, the customer will likely be willing to express their gratitude to an actual representative. However, if you wait days to request a review over email, the interaction loses its personal touch and becomes just another business transaction that leaves customers feeling uninspired.
3. Offer rewards for CUSTOMER reviews, not POSITIVE reviews
It’s perfectly fine to offer rewards to reviewers but when you stipulate that the review should be positive, that’s bordering on bribery. Instead, offer a discount or freebie for a review, regardless of the content. While you might still have to host a negative review, you can send the customer an apologetic message that will help open up a dialogue and hopefully result in some useful feedback. The idea of your page featuring vetted 5 star reviews is great but even better is earning fantastic, across the board reviews with a superior product.
Bonus Tip: Negative reviews have actually been proven to help promote sales. A full page of perfect testimonies, especially on a mom and pop site, might raise suspicions that the reviews are fabricated.
4. Bring in a ringer
While retail sites might have trouble garnering reviews, the opinions they’re looking for are only a few clicks away. Consumers are constantly posting about their experiences with products on social media and blogs. The issue is finding brand loyalists and encouraging them to leave reviews on your site. Instead of googling endlessly, I recommend using sentiment analysis tools. Their search engines allow you to browse mentions on blogs, social media, videos, images etc. You can then reach out to these individuals, who you already know are satisfied customers and open to sharing their opinions, by sending them a personalized thank you note with a review request. It might also make sense to ask the customer to repost their comment from social media, making the process even more seamless.
Bonus Tip: Mention a specific part of the review that you liked/appreciated, to show that you looked at more than just the rating
5. Start at the top
The human element is an extremely important part of generating customer reviews. Sending personalized thank you notes, engaging in live chats, etc. can make all the difference in netting a great review for your site. Go a step further than that- have the CEO contact customers directly. Stock responses are a dime a dozen and super transparent. Having the actual face of the franchise reach out shows customers that their business is highly valued and that their feedback won’t get lost in the shuffle.
Smadar Landau is the CEO of Feelter, a company that crowdsources product reviews from around the internet and consolidates them to help mom and pop retailers stay competitive. An earthquake in the e-commerce market, Feelter employs a simple plugin that leverages social media content to your site and increases conversion rates.