A big part of ecommerce is managing and responding to reviews, whether they’re on-site or on some third-party platform. Reviews can be great, propelling your brand’s popularity, or they can do some serious damage to its reputation if you don’t handle things correctly.
We asked some seasoned ecommerce leaders how they maximize positive reviews while keeping bad reviews to an absolute minimum. Here are some of the tips they shared.
Sales are rolling in, but you may be scratching your head, wondering why there are so few positive reviews left on your site. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive it!
“Sometimes, all you have to do is ask,” said Bill Glaser, CEO of Outstanding Foods. “Sending a follow-up email or text message to customers who have opted into communications can increase your reviews immensely. Another option is providing a one-time discount for customers who review your product or service on sites like Yelp. While these techniques will increase the number of reviews you receive, ensuring that the reviews are positive is up to the quality of your product and your customer service.”
A little incentive goes a long way, especially when customers only need to spend a couple minutes leaving a good review.
Returning the Favor
If a customer clearly enjoys your products and has returned for many purchases, they are great candidates for a review. Why not reach out and ask them to leave 5-stars?
“Just ask!” said Tyler Boyd, CEO and Co-Founder of Squeeze. “If you have been spending time assisting a customer and have built a relationship in the process, asking them to write a review is a quick and guaranteed way to get a positive review. Typically, customers won’t mind submitting a quick review after having a great experience with your brand. The worst that could happen is not getting a review out of it, at least you asked!”
Once again, it helps to sweeten the deal with a discount or a promo to encourage more reviews from first-time customers.
Why Reviews Matter
Before ramping up your efforts to earn more positive reviews, it helps to recognize why this is a worthwhile pursuit.
“Online reviews are important to maintain because they will have influence over other potential customers and their purchasing decisions, especially in ecommerce,” said Eric Wu, Co-Founder and COO of Gainful. “Because we customize our products to fit our customer’s needs, we ensure that they are satisfied every step of the way and are open to receiving feedback on what needs to improve in order for them to receive a satisfactory experience and reach their health and fitness goals.”
Know what you want from your reviews, and you’ll get a better idea how to attain them.
Reviews are great for raising the profile of your products and offer a quick ego boost, but direct feedback is often more valuable. Surveys give you a much deeper understanding of what you’re doing right and wrong from the customer’s point of view.
“When it comes to receiving positive online reviews, be sure that your customers have a simple, quick way to supply the details of their experience with your company and your products,” said Travis Killian, Owner and CEO of Everlasting Comfort. “An after-purchase survey is a really great option, as your customers’ feelings and thoughts will still be fresh. Give them time to try out the product, but don’t let too much time go by so that they lose some of the excitement they felt with the initial purchase.”
Getting customers to complete surveys can be tricky, so give them some incentive to provide feedback.
There’s nothing wrong with a five-star review, but a real, genuine testimonial takes things to the next level. When your customers share stories and capture moments with your products, that’s the sign of a strong brand.
“At Wild One, we LOVE sharing our customers’ experiences and photos with our community, and when it comes to dogs, people love sharing them with us,” said Minali Chatani, Co-Founder and Head of Brand at Wild One. “The more we feature and highlight our customers, the more positive reviews we get. But it’s also important and okay to ask for them. Don’t wait for them to happen. Set up automated emails to be delivered a certain amount of time post-purchase. Make sure the customer has enough time to experience your products, but not too much time that it becomes out-of-mind.”
User-generated content is bigger than ever, so tap into the trend with your own branding style.
Use Those Reviews
When you’ve got some glowing reviews in your collection, it’s time to put them to use. Incorporate them into online content, advertisements, or wherever you see fit.
“Start using your online reviews in your branding content,” said Divya Gugnani, CEO and Co-Founder of Wander Beauty. “Regardless of the website these reviews are on, you are able to create SEO and social media content to give your business that recognition it deserves! When you give credit to your consumers, other consumers are more inclined to submit reviews with a chance to be recognized.”
When great reviews are broadcasted far and wide, the effects are compounded in a big way.
Service = Sales
If you’re experiencing a drought of good reviews, it might be due to your service, rather than the products you offer. Without great service, every aspect of the business will suffer.
“Getting service right is more than just a nice to do; it’s a must do,” said James Bush, Former Senior Advisor at American Express. “American consumers are willing to spend more with companies that provide outstanding service – ultimately, great service can drive sales and customer loyalty.”
Customers will often leave hints about service issues in reviews, so be sure to read each one.
Honesty is Essential
People tend to focus on the tiniest inconvenience or setback when leaving a review, and this can overshadow all the good things they enjoyed. Be aware of this when creating your customer experience.
“Transparency is extremely important to customers when buying and trying new products, so it should also matter to your brand, as it will translate into your reviews,” said Dylan Kim, Co-Founder and Marketing Head at Brevite. “People tend to be less satisfied with purchases that were a hassle to obtain or return, and small issues like that can add up if more people experience that and put that in reviews. Ensuring even small parts of the sales process goes smoothly can increase your positive reviews online.”
Nobody likes the run-around treatment, and it’s often better to be transparent with customers, even when things aren’t going as planned.
The people on the front lines of your customer service squad are the real heroes, solving problems quickly and turning potentially bad experiences into good ones.
“Investing in a great team of people who are trained in dealing with issues with customers, including those not directly related to customer service, is a great way to promote positive reviews and customer relationships, as thought is being put into the customer in every aspect of the business,” said Michel Fischer, Founder of Elite HRT. “At Elite HRT, we put a huge emphasis on patient care and education because the best success stories come from those who felt they had a great team taking care of them and answering their questions.”
If your customer relationships are strong and you truly care about each person, that will show in your reviews and testimonials.
Respond to Reviews
When someone leaves a review on your site, what is your response? Rather than just watching reviews roll in, engage with these customers and make it an interactive experience.
“Sundays for Dogs loves interacting with the people who write reviews,” said Michael Waxman, CEO and Co-Founder of Sundays for Dogs. “We always respond to our reviews thanking them for their kind words or assisting with their concerns. In each response we like to include a unique discount code for their next purchase. This not only increases our repeat customers but it also indicates to other customers that they will also get a discount code when they leave a review!”
Even if a review isn’t great, it’s important to respond and address any problems that were brought up.
Run down your list of business fundamentals and see if there are any weak points in need of revision or fortification. Reviews will usually reflect one of these key areas and reveal potential issues.
“At Nori, we’ve found that the best way to increase positive reviews is to maintain high quality customer service, shipping process, and product quality,” said Annabel Love, Co-Founder and COO of Nori. “Additionally, the better that you match your product or service to how you describe it on your website, the more satisfied your customers will be with the product or service!”
If you make promises or guarantees to customers, you better be ready to follow up and be true to your word!
Today’s customers have no problem being vocal about negative experiences, but getting them to speak up about positive interactions with your brand can be more difficult.
“We really listened to what our users wanted, both qualitatively listening to the words they say, and quantitatively looking at the behavior they take,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook.
See criticism as an opportunity to redirect your efforts in a more productive way and improve on your foundations.
Asking customers to fill out a survey or leave an open-ended review can be a bit much. Instead, ask simple and specific questions that don’t require much brain power to answer.
“Always follow up with your customers after they have received your product and have had time to use it,” said Lo Bosworth, CEO and Founder of Love Wellness. “Send them a quick email asking them how they have liked their products with a clear and bold link to write the review. Including a couple of questions that rate their experience is a great way to gain quick feedback.”
When you make things easy for the customer to participate, they are more than happy to follow through.
Online businesses have struggled to bridge the gap of personalized messaging, but founders are coming up with creative ways to accomplish this important goal.
“Send an email to the customers who have received your products, thanking them and directing them to a link to submit a product review on your website,” said Chris Caouette, Co-Founder of Gorilla Bow. “You have to be proactive in building a positive reputation online, especially if your business is small or a startup.”
A quick shoutout or message can be very effective in making a real connection that encourages repeat business and good reviews.
Run a Survey
A survey doesn’t need to be 100 questions long for you to learn some valuable information. Present a few key questions and gather relevant details that will improve your customer experience.
“Always do a follow up after services,” said Tirzah Shirai, CEO and Founder of The Blink Bar. “We recommend handing out a small survey for your clients to complete while you are running their payment. This trick ensures your clients are actually completing the survey when they would have just been waiting for you to check them out. A quick three questions about their service is all you need!”
Once customers are comfortable taking a survey, they might even be more likely to drop a longer review with more in-depth feedback.
When you start processing dozens, hundreds, and thousands of reviews on your site, you might want to start reaching out and making some connections with influencers and ambassadors.
“Actively track and manage all of your businesses online reviews,” said Jason Butcher, CEO of CoinPayments. “Ask these reviewers if they would be open to becoming brand ambassadors for your business and use them to help generate more positive reviews for your business.”
People take reviews more seriously when they’re from trusted sources and real people, so use this fact to your advantage.
When you’re just getting started, those first few reviews can be hard to come by. A little incentive might be necessary. Before long, more reviews will start piling up and you’ll be well on your way.
“Provide a discount code to all reviewers,” said Joe Parenteau, CEO and Co-Founder of Fable. “When your consumers are filling out their review submission, require an email address so you can properly thank them for their kind words (or address any issues they present), but also provide them with a percentage off their next purchase! Word will get out and soon enough you will have ample positive reviews, happy consumers, and more sales!”
If you haven’t given much attention to your online reviews so far, let this be your wake-up call! Reviews are so important to generating interest and momentum online, so use these tactics to get an edge and start raising your brand’s profile today.