Customer reviews are powerful. They can propel a business to the top of its food chain – or sink it to the bottom of the heap. I’m jumping on the customer review bandwagon. So should you.
We customers trust one another’s feedback about a product or service quicker than we trust what a company says about its own products. A great review by a third party is so much more powerful than a company’s review of itself. I’ll believe other customers before I’ll believe what you tell me about your services. Their comments carry more weight.
It’s something called “social proof,” which is the influence caused by others’ reactions. It’s human nature to look around us and see what others are doing, and if enough people are acting or behaving in one way, in many cases, so will you. (Haven’t you jaywalked because people around you are crossing a street when a light’s red?)
I look for customer feedback on lots of things before purchasing them. Appliances, computer equipment, housewares, and clothing come to mind. And in my house, we spend an inordinate amount of time reading reviews on hotels, restaurants and potential vacation spots to help us decide where we’ll go.
Last fall, the Better Business Bureau reprinted a column by Megan Lum in which she states, “According to a 2013 survey by BrightLocal, 85% of consumers say they read online reviews for local businesses; this is up from 76% in 2012. The same survey also found that 73% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more, which is up from 58% just one year prior.”
This makes me think about what more can be done to promote and share customer reviews for certain service providers. Let’s take commercial printers. The traditional approach to customer reviews for a printing company is still alive and kicking today: enter “The Testimonial.” I myself use this term regularly with my printer clients – but I’m starting to think it’s too old, too buttoned up, too hyper-sanitized.
Typically, printers ask for (or receive unsolicited) testimonials from customers, and once permission has been granted, the printer uses these testimonials on the web site and in promotional materials.
All well and good. But isn’t it time to do better? Can’t we have more fun with feedback?
Imagine what it would be like to have a spot on your web site that invites customer comments and reviews. I spent time searching on the Internet for customer reviews of printers and had trouble finding much, but I DID find www.bluebeeprinting.com in San Francisco. Their customer reviews are featured on their home page – top right hand side – and there’s a link to their Customer Lobby as well, in which over 600 reviews can be read. (Customer Lobby is a software app to collect, manage and publish customer reviews, according to their website.)
And imagine how great it would be to have videos featuring customers on your site, in which they share something awesome about working with you. Maybe they want to tell the world about a terrific employee of yours, for all the world to see. Customer videos add personality to your site. They’re more interesting than words on a page. They can paint a truly powerful picture of what it’s like working with you.
You know who does a nice job of this? PFL: www.printingforless.com. They have a ton of customer comments and videos online. In many of the videos, customers hold up samples of the printer’s work, making each video relaxed, casual, and personal. Just fun to watch. Bravo, PFL!
This isn’t a strategy you can simply achieve and implement overnight, but you have to start somewhere. How could you add ongoing customer reviews to your site?
More importantly: Why isn’t this a good idea?
For a terrific post by HubSpot (I’m their biggest fan, when it comes to blogs), read this one about social proof on landing pages.
Placing customer reviews on your site is recommended and is just step #1. They need to be published in your social media feed and on sites where your prospects might go to check out service providers in your field.
Social media wizard Brian Solis talks a lot about the value of customer experiences. He writes, “Today brands are not created, they’re co-created by the experiences customers share through social media and mobile networks.”
If you agree, then your customers are shaping your brand, as we speak, through what they’re saying about you on social media and in mobile networks.
Getting your customers to share their reviews of your company is a challenge I hope you’re up to. You need to have a plan in place to ask them for reviews, to capture the reviews, to publish them, and to spread them through your own SM networks as well as theirs.
Here’s to retiring the notion of testimonials and embracing the more engaging concept of customer reviews. How might you go about this?
© 2015 Margie Dana. All rights reserved.