By Mike Wolfe
This spring, I planned a week-long trip to Las Vegas for myself and my wife. We just wanted to get away, experience the city, see a few shows, and eat some great food. Of course, with that planning came tons of choices to make. Like, which airline should we use to get there? Which hotel should we stay in? Which shows should we see? And which restaurants should we eat at? With Las Vegas being the entertainment capital of the world, we easily could have been overwhelmed with options, but we weren’t overwhelmed at all. Why not? Because (queue the ‘90s dance song from Snap!) I’ve got the power! The power of customer reviews that is.
With a few quick searches on Google, Yelp, and a few travel sites, we read reviews and learned from the insight and experience of hundreds of other tourists that visited before us. With this information, we could make educated decisions and plan our trip with confidence that we were going to have an amazing experience and get the best possible value, and we did!
The Power of Reviews
Crowdsourced reviews have changed the customer experience. But this goes way beyond airlines, hotels, and restaurants. The power of customer reviews can affect every business, large and small. In a recent study, data revealed that 67 percent of consumers are influenced by online reviews. The answer to why online reviews are so important to consumers can be found in a different study from HubSpot, which revealed that only 3 percent of surveyed respondents trust salespeople and marketers—only 2 percentage points higher than car salesmen and politicians!
When a good portion of your potential customers are in the market for your product or service, where do you think they’re going to do their research? And when they discover your business, what are they going to hear your current or former customers saying about you?
Before taking your sales pitch or marketing message to heart, many consumers are relying on each other for social proof that you are trustworthy—and it’s not just one or two reviews that influence them, but several. By establishing and leveraging several good reviews for your company, you can build trust with your audience, provide insight to the typical customer experience, and promote the positive aspects of your business.
The Power of Customer Success
Reviews can have such a huge impact—one way or another—on a company, but what drives a customer to leave a review in the first place? Customers want to look out for each other and share their experiences so that others can learn from it and make good decisions. When customers have a bad experience, they want to prevent other people from going through the same trouble. Conversely, when customers have a great experience, they often feel good about sharing it with others. This is where you have some power, too. Customers have the power to influence others, and you have the power to influence your customers by delivering value and creating an amazing experience for them. In other words, you have the power to influence those reviews by ensuring customer success.
What does customer success look like?
Customer success should be thought of as more than just good tech support. It’s even more than happy customers. Customer success is exceeding customer expectations as you help them achieve their desired outcomes, and being just as enthusiastic and excited about those outcomes as they are. This approach should come naturally to most inbound marketers, because inbound marketing is customer-focused and centered around educating potential customers on what they can do to solve their problems. As you attract, convert, and close your customers, your products or services become the ideal solution they need at the value that they expect. When you deliver that promised value and delight your customers with an amazing experience, it creates raving fans.
How to Harness the Power of Customer Success
So what can you do to harness the power of customer success and turn unhappy or passive customers into raving fans? First, don’t chase reviews alone. Instead, customer success should be the main focus of your business. Reviews will follow, but, of course, reviews only work in your favor when they are positive. If you need to work out some kinks in your support or customer service, even marketing and sales, do so first so you can guarantee customer satisfaction.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure customer success (and then get rave reviews):
Create a culture of customer success.
Make customer success a pillar or core value that everyone in your company can strive for. Consider incorporating customer success into departmental goals and train each team on what customer success looks like. Share customer success stories internally and celebrate those wins along with your own.
Understand your buyer personas and seek customers that are a good fit for your company.
You can’t always please everyone. What you can do is understand your target buyer personas, do the best you can to help them with their specific goals and challenges, and set the proper expectations with them up front. Don’t set yourself up for failure by providing false expectations or trying to serve everyone, despite what their true needs are. Remember: only 3 percent of surveyed consumers trusted salespeople and marketers. Be the refreshing exception to that stereotype and recognize when a customer may not be a great fit for what your company is able to deliver. You’ll both be happier in the long run.
Listen to your customers and take action.
Before customers leave reviews online, there could be several ways to “hear” what they have to say, and address issues if necessary. Customer support is often the first line of defense against negative customer reviews, so make sure staff is well-trained and equipped to handle customer complaints and issues. Even better, take some proactive measures to prevent a negative experience in the first place. Create and promote a customer satisfaction survey or check in on customers through customer satisfaction calls without the intent to upsell. When poor reviews do occur, respond.
Listen to the industry and adapt accordingly.
Industry trade publications often sponsor or perform their own studies on what consumers want to see from businesses like yours. Reading these articles and studies can help you stay in tune with what your audience wants. Reading your competitors’ reviews can sometimes help you gain a good understanding of what your potential customers want and don’t want, too.
Encourage customer reviews.
According to BrightLocal’s 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey, 70 percent of consumers will leave a review for a business when asked. When customers have had an amazing experience working with you, simply asking them to leave honest reviews is all it takes. Consider all the touchpoints you have with your customers and look for opportunities where you can ask for a quick review. Make it easy for the customer by providing links to where you want the most reviews and instructions on how they can leave one.
Leverage good reviews in your marketing.
Once you have great reviews coming, add them to your marketing strategy. Consider all the bottom-funnel touchpoints you have with your prospects and look for ways to promote your amazing reviews. A few places to consider is on your website, in email signatures, on social media channels, and in your lead nurture emails. Turn reviews into case studies that show your targeted personas exactly how your product or service has helped someone just like them.
Want to learn more about your marketing personas and what motivates them to purchase from you? Check out the The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Personas.