Think of a word that rhymes with “complicit” and can have a rather negative connotation.
Okay, here’s a visual hint:
Here’s Johnny on your doorstep, even if you don’t want his vacuum, his political views, his charity request, or whatever else he’s trying to — drum roll please — solicit.
For many of us, just the thought of solicitation brings up nightmare scenarios of being woken up early on a Saturday, interrupted during dinner, etc. But when we strip away the negative stereotype and get to the definition of “soliciting” — which is simply “asking someone for something” — we find a huge competitive marketing tactic that you should be taking advantage of right now.
You really can get your customers excited about being asked for something as valuable as reviews. Eliminate the taboo and successfully solicit using these 3 tips:
1. Plant the Seed During Service
“We value your feedback” has two sides to it, and you should be using both if you really want to build your reputation. You value your customer’s feedback because, of course, you want to make sure your customer is satisfied.
But you also value that customer’s feedback because it means your customer has just turned into a promoter.
We’ve covered BrightLocal’s momentous survey on the power of customer reviews before, and it’s definitely worth revisiting if you want to use major consumer trends to your benefit. Why? Because the industry leader found that 88% of today’s prospective customers “trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations.”
So, the customer who just paid you is now helping you attract more paying customers — all with a few comments on what they experienced. And, to add a simultaneous win-win, your current customer is feeling even more appreciated and respected by your business because you’re openly asking for their important thoughts.
2. Don’t Miss 88% of Your Prospects
A word-of-mouth recommendation passed on by your customer to their friend or two is wonderful, but it’s a tin can on a string compared to the expansive reach of a recommendation published online. With a proven statistic like 88% backing you up, you can feel confident about pushing customer comments onto the World Wide Web.
Even if the customer who provided feedback online never returns to use your services again because customer churn is inevitable — though treatable with the right analysis – their stellar recommendation is still promoting your business to each new prospect who reads it.
Which brings us around to another impressive stat: While the majority of online content is ignored, customer reviews stand out and actually get read. You did the hard work for your customers, now let your customers’ reviews work for you as your Web property cornerstone and new business conversion tool.
3. Take Control of Your Reputation Destiny
The long and short of it is, the best defense is a good offense. Forgive me for the idioms, but it’s true! You want customer reviews published online to boost business, you have plenty of happy customers who say they’ll recommend you…and you have zero guarantee they’re actually going to do it.
So what is a business owner to do, especially when you don’t have the time to chase customers’ promises of eventual reviews?
Solicit your reviews. Really, it’s okay. Remember that soliciting reviews boils down to taking a proactive approach to wide-reaching customer feedback about your company. Launching a proactive approach opens the doors to some very unique opportunities, like:
- Getting in front of the two audiences that make or break the success of your Web property: your already-satisfied, ready-to-review current customers, and your prospective customers.
- Steering clear of the online review negativity bias that keeps your satisfied majority silent while only the dissatisfied few feel compelled enough to broadcast their grudges. A bit of negative feedback is inevitable, but don’t let it bully your marketing content because you avoided asking your happy customers to share their experiences, too.
- Tailoring the way you collect reviews to accommodate and delight your customers. Your customer doesn’t have Internet access? Use a phone call to collect their review, letting them freely talk about their good experience while all the publication work is covered. Some customers are hard to reach by phone? Send unlimited emails with direct links to where they can submit reviews. Not sure if your customer will remember to do a review weeks later? Get reviews on-site and at the time of service. Your customer prefers print? Hand them a short and sweet review form and have their comments published online later.
Here’s Another Hint…
Customer Lobby members have access to all of these routes for getting more valuable customer reviews, much more easily. If you’re not a member, we still want to hear from you. If you already have a method for soliciting customer reviews and want to find out if it’s optimized, or if you are just starting your online reviews campaign and need to know more about increasing your capture success, get in touch with us. We’re happy to discuss what you are or should be doing to make sure you’re proactive with your reviews and reputation.