Product reviews are important. Yes, they can be faked, or the result of a quid pro quo arrangement (for example, "I'll give you a product if you leave a review.") And sometimes they're too brief to actually be useful.
that gets your customers to do the work for you is a win
Yet, they have been part of e-commerce since its inception and good reviews translate into more sales.
For example, when we wrote the first edition of our PowerSellers Book, we received a glowing, well-thought out review on Amazon from a respected journalist. Since she wrote that review, 307 out of 318 people said they found it helpful. We're convinced that review helped boost sales tremendously.
But you probably already knew that positive reviews, and feedback in general, are hugely important. So we asked some experts how to encourage customers to leave them (positive, hopefully). We also spoke with sellers who, as usual, were quite opinionated on the topic!
Make reviews rewarding
Reuben Yonatan is the founder of GetVoIP and an expert on customer reviews. His advice: Make leaving reviews rewarding or fun.
"You have to give your customers a reason to leave a review," Yonatan notes. "… Maybe even [make it both rewarding and fun] if you can. The classic example is a gift card or some other reward given to a random reviewer. Podsurvey is a service for podcasters to better match advertisers with content providers, and they offer a $100 Amazon gift card drawing every month. That's a pretty low overhead for such a huge amount of money at stake for the podcasters."
In the fun category, Yonatan recommends making it a social experience.
"I don't just mean make up a hashtag (which works most times, but can backfire other times), but make
it about being part of a community," he says. "Mad Magazine gives a free three-year subscription to anyone who takes their picture with a celebrity holding a Mad Magazine. So anything
that gets your customers to do the work for you is a win."
When you answer their questions directly… they're more likely to leave a review. I think it's the personal touch
Social media can help
If you can get your customers "talking" about your products you can create "brand ambassadors." If you have a Facebook page for your business (and you do, right?), you can build a base of ambassadors from that launching pad.
Matt Behnke is the CEO of The Orthotic Shop, an online shoe store. He has a dedicated team of what he calls "Customer Happiness Experts."
"These experts interact with customers, both on my site and across my social media channels," he says. "I find that when you answer their questions directly, pointing them to the shoes that fit their needs, they're more likely to leave a review. I think it's the personal touch. They feel, not obligated, but that a review is warranted since you helped them in their search."
Another way to use Facebook, Behnke says, is to implement Facebook chat right on your website, something he does.
"I think this really helps create a sense of community," he continues. "This lets customers leave comments and questions on shoes that they want to learn more about, and while my team responds to them, it's not unusual for another customer to respond to them as well. These customers then leave reviews of the shoes they buy, letting others know if they work or not."
Earn those stars
Of course, your products and service have to warrant positive reviews. Glenda Wigginton Edmunds, a member of an eBay group on Facebook, says her reviews usually include how fast her shipping time is.
"Getting your packages out in a timely manner is really important," she notes. "My Office Depot has USPS pickup each evening and mail goes directly to the sort center for processing. That seems to shave off a day or more in shipping time."
Another long-time online seller, Kathy Terrill, says she doesn't find actually soliciting feedback smart. "It's at a buyer's discretion and totally voluntary."
Give the best customer service and some buyers will feel compelled to leave [feedback]
However, the best way to attract great reviews is simply to have accurate descriptions, package your items well and ship your orders fast with a handwritten thank you.
Seller Kathy Keefe doesn't believe in asking for or even mentioning feedback, either. "I have a postcard I place in every order with a business card thanking them, along with my contact information," she says. "I also have an email sent when the item is delivered making sure they received the item and it was as expected, and including contact information again. Never do I mention feedback, rating or reviews."
Don't poke the bear
Along these lines of not soliciting feedback e-merchant Cari Lousen agrees, adding, "Do not poke the sleeping bear or you may not like what happens. Give the best customer service and some buyers will feel compelled to leave it. It seems that for me, just over half leave [feedback], but I don't really think much about it. New sellers get too worried about it, and hold their own feedback to the buyer hostage. Don't do it. Just serve the buyer well and it will all be fine."
Finally, another seller, Gladys Ramos, summed things up nicely. "To me it's in how you handle the entire transaction, from presenting it to shipping it, that motivates the buyer to leave feedback or a review," she says. "It's all about customer service from start to finish."
We hope we've given you some strategies to try (or not) when it comes to soliciting feedback.