Review sites currently play a huge role in buyer decisions. Read on to find out how you can use these to your advantage, but give your business a huge boost in brand recognition at the same time.
The rise of TripAdvisor and similar sites has tended to unnerve many businesses who are concerned that negative reviews will ward off potential customers, but the fact is, these sites are a hugely valuable resource to the consumer, and you need to view them in the same way. The new eagerness of customers to report on their recent product buys, hotel stays and eateries visited is something that can help you rather than hinder you, if you approach them in the right way.
The trend towards taking customers at their word rather than companies has been hugely aided by social media. As more and more people turn to Twitter and Facebook for advice and help, companies become vulnerable to open-air criticism and the possibility of angry customers dissuading others from using their services, but I have spoken before about how social media presents us with a fantastic opportunity to
improve customer service
– and that’s exactly what review sites can do for you too. Let’s look at some of the ways this can be achieved.
Embedded product reviews
This is the most obvious way that you can take advantage of review sites. Your content management system should allow you to have either a sidebar or another kind of embedded view of review sites such as Amazon, TripAdvisor, Yelp and so on depending on what you’re selling via your eCommerce site.
The inclusion of such a section allows the customer to see that you want people to make an informed purchasing decision, and that you understand what that customer needs and whose opinions they listen to. Not only does this empower the customer, but makes them feel like they are opting for a more reputable brand that cares what its customer base thinks.
You can even take this a step further and have your own review sections. Allow consumers to rate the products they buy and the experience they receive of your customer service, and have these posted publicly on these pages. If you’re worried about internet trolls, you can also set up a process whereby new posts are sent to a member of your staff to review before being posted online. Don’t disregard people who gave you one star though; if there is a genuine reason why they had a bad experience, allow the comment to be posted and publicly reply to it so that customers can see you tried to resolve the issue and that you’re not afraid to be honest.
Create brand ambassadors and recognise fans
I talked briefly in a previous article about the
power of brand ambassadors with social media
, but the same can be applied to review forums. If you monitor sites where your company is reviewed on a regular basis, or trace a backlink to a blog advocating your products in reviews, get in touch with these people and make a connection with them. Not only are you making a customer relationship even stronger, ensuring they remain a lifelong customer, but you’re demonstrating an element of social research that a lot of companies don’t participate in.
Where social media differs is the quality of the information being given; this is particularly important with brand ambassadors, as there have been cases where brand advocates have commented on bad reviews in defence of the company in question. This is the kind of loyalty most businesses think is out of their reach, but by engaging in these data-rich areas, it is a possibility.
Engage with online perceptions of your brand
You may think that your company message or brand ethos is very obvious, but this isn’t always the case. What you take away from something and what your customer takes away can be two very different things; by checking review sites regularly, you can gain a valuable insight into what your customers like and dislike about your brand.
What makes this different from social media is that they are often far more detailed in what they say; they are not restricted by a certain number of characters, and people rarely have accounts on review sites if they do not use them regularly or if they only write one-word answers. You can get a very specific set of data from these snippets of customer experience, and this can also help you to determine if your target market is accurate.
Engagement at every level is expected of customers today, and consumers view a company who shies away from this with concern about what they’re hiding. By engaging with your customers in forums like these, you can see how they interact with other members of your customer base and gain rich, individual data about personal experiences.
Are you aiming yourself at your target market correctly? What are the major issues with your service? Are you doing enough to ensure that the buyer makes the right decision? And does your eCommerce website reinforce the idea that you understand the current marketplace and how important reviews are to a consumer? These are all questions that review forums can help you answer – so start researching now!
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