67% of Australian internet users read online reviews and 60% of consumers read up to five reviews before making a purchase decision.

While it’s well known that consumers seek advice from family or friends about products, increasingly online reviews are playing a large role also.

According to our Yellow Social Media Report 2014, 67% of Australian internet users read online reviews and 60% of consumers read up to five reviews before making a purchase decision.

We’ve looked at where you should be gathering online reviews, but once you’ve plugged into these platforms such as Yellow Pages ratings and reviews, how do you make use of them?

According to marketing expert Rob Markey, there’re plenty of things that SMEs can do when it comes to dealing with client feedback.

“If you want employees to learn from customers, don’t follow the traditional approach to customer satisfaction measurement. Make feedback a part of your daily operations. Deliver the feedback directly to the employees who need to hear it. Focus your company’s customer listening efforts not on measuring more precisely, but on learning more effectively,” he says.

Markey outlines some rules to remember when dealing with reviews and feedback:

Don’t fall into the trap of collecting reviews and feedback, assembling it into scores, percentages and numbers and stopping there. This common mistake completely obscures any individual customer’s voice.

Always maintain a human voice. If you’re asking your audience for reviews directly (on your website or Facebook, for example), allow customers to share feedback in their own words. “How often have you taken a company’s survey because you wanted to register your annoyance (or delight) with the company’s actions, only to discover that none of the questions seemed like they really addressed the issue on your mind? Too many companies ask customers to rate their performance on a predetermined list of factors,” he says.

Maintain communication with customers and reviewers.“People want to be heard. They want their feedback to be acknowledged. They want to know that the time they invested sharing feedback meant something and was acted on. Closing the loop is essential to building lasting customer relationships, and it is an invaluable opportunity to dig more deeply into the details of what delighted or enraged them.”

Here are some further tips for encouraging positive online reviews for your business:

Create a designated space for reviews on your website

Make it easy for people to submit reviews so that the content is always new. Encouraging feedback on your own website can work well in the case of negative reviews – you can deal with it and control it here before unhappy customers turn to social media and review sites and publicise their grievances. Include links to your review section in your email signature and ask customers for feedback in an email sent directly after a purchase.

Ramp up your review presence in search engines

Take control of your presence on external review sites by aggregating comments. Creating a blog post around these reviews will also give them more permanence than they receive in social media. When someone types the query 'company xxx customer reviews' into a search engine, you want your blog post to appear at the top of the search results.

Create case studies that encourage positive reviews

Create a video with happy customer responses and reports of how they have used your product or service. Kicking off a Twitter or Instagram campaign is a more informal but effective way to generate reviews. HubSpot use a video called ‘I HubSpot Because’ and promote it with the hashtag #hubspotting.


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