Harness the Power of Your Happy Customers

The best form of marketing for any business is when an actual human being validates the experience of the product or service. There will always be times when customers may not have the access to another human being to talk directly and get a recommendation. In the past decade or so consumers have increasingly turned to search engines to provide the feedback personal networks traditionally did.

Search engines like Google will return results that include:

  • Websites of companies related to the terms
  • Wikipedia pages connected the terms you use for the pages
  • Addresses of local businesses
  • Results from review sites that mention businesses
  • Content from websites that provide useful tips on the subject
  • Videos related to the subject
  • Related search terms and
  • Of course the highly visible ads related to the  term being searched

Try the search for the Frederick Restaurant “volt restaurant” on Google and see the results. Hint to Volt Restaurant is that they could add some more video content or reviews. A caveat about my observations above is that Google results will differ depending on your location and if you are signed into your Google account or not. If you are a user of Microsoft’s Bing search engine – the same search for the Volt Restaurant produces similar results and in fact lays more emphasis on reviews.

Hopefully by this time you are convinced that spending some time on creating a strategy for encouraging reviews will be well worth your time. Customers may be talking about your business anywhere…

  1. Off platform: Review sites, blogs, communities etc that are not connected to your online presence
  2. On Platform: A form on your business website, forum or blog where customers can provide you feedback
  3. Offline: Comment cards, visitor’s books or conversations at gatherings or parties

For off platform reviews you should setup a listening program, even a basic Google Alert, to see where people are talking about you. Consider adding reviews to your On Platform areas as part of your web presence strategy.

Here are the steps you should take for a review cycle:

Review Life Cycle for Customers online

  1. Remind people that you would like a review – This can be in the form of a sign in your business, on billing receipts or order confirmations.
  2. Make it easy for them to review by providing them a link in an email, a QR code on the billing receipt or links on your website, Facebook Page, etc.
  3. Once you receive a review be sure to thank the reviewer. I am definitely wowed when I hear from the business owner in response to a review. This step is important even if the review is not complimentary as this is a chance to make it right and subsequent visitors will see that there has been an interaction with the business. The bad review may not influence their decision. I have seen first hand how negative review conversations with the reviewer have often converted them into becoming even more regular and passionate advocates for the business.
  4. Reviews themselves can be scored by how useful a review was to other visitors. When a review gets a score or is “Liked” by other visitors you should convey this back to the reviewer.
  5. Sometimes reviews become hugely popular and are seen by a lot of people, the reviewer may be thrilled by the number of people who see the review . I was thrilled when the review I wrote on a Cleveland Hotel for TripAdvisor was seen by 35 people.
  6. Featured reviews are reviews that often make it to the home page of the site or is placed in a prominent position. This should be communicated to the reviewer.
  7. Rewards – Cash awards are taboo but you could give reviewers rewards by elevating them based on the number of reviews or scores. Getting reviewers to go from “newbie” to “ expert” maybe an incentive for more reviews. Google Top Contributors were thanked with a trip to the Google headquarters http://b.shashi.co/oo4dMj

The best thing you can do for your business is to help your customers help you by making it easy for them to share their good experience with you and your products. Would you like to add your experience as a business in harnessing the power of your customers? Please comment below and let us know.