In a previous article I outlined the new guidelines related to customer reviews and testimonials. Today I’ll show you how to keep reviews legal and above board.
Encourage reviews from genuine users only
It’s an excellent idea to ask people to post an online review of their experience, but only encourage reviews from genuine users. For example, a genuine user is not a friend or family member who hasn’t used your products or services, or who can’t be impartial.
How to safely encourage reviews
There are impartial review sites such as WOMO and Productreview.com.au that collect and manage reviews. To encourage genuine reviews from customers, as part of your after-sales support, simply send them a link to one of the impartial review sites.
Many customers are happy to write about their experience to help others make a well-considered decision. Some products or services can be reviewed immediately (a restaurant) while others will take longer (a weight loss program). It’s always a good idea to send a follow-up email within an appropriate timeframe to remind customers about the review site.
Take the good with the bad
You should be prepared for, and welcome, negative reviews. Negative feedback is just as useful as positive feedback as it may provide an opportunity to improve your product or service. If your customer is a genuine user, then their opinion is valid, even if you don’t agree.
You could even think of poor feedback as a form of valuable (and very cheap) market research. For example, if your delivery service is being criticised by several customers, you can take action to resolve the issue or find a new delivery provider.
Most people will read more than one review, so it’s not a bad thing to have a balance of positive and negative. Every product or service has pros and cons for different people, and everyone has different expectations or judgement criteria – most potential customers will understand that.
The best way to handle negative criticism on social media is to engage, and possibly even fix the problem with a public apology. For example, writing the following can actually add to your credibility and trustworthiness: “We’re very sorry to hear you have been disappointed and we want to help.”
If you are suspicious that a “fake” customer has written a negative review, contact the review site, they may be able to politely ask the reviewer for proof of purchase.
General tips, suggestions and advice
- Address issues and if you’re able to, offer solutions; otherwise stay silent.
- Be mindful about joining discussions on customer forums because once you begin, you will need to respond to most comments, which can be very time consuming.
- Never write your own reviews, or have friends or family members write reviews.
- Never unfairly reward or incentivise your customers to write reviews (unless you have an unbiased incentive for everyone).
- Never attack or argue with people who have written a negative review.
- Never ask for negative reviews to be removed (unless you believe it is a “false negative”, in which case you should present your case to the review site).
- Don’t expect customers will write a review, even if you ask nicely.
- Don’t expect customers to write a review straight away.
- Encourage customers to share their unbiased views so others can benefit from their experience.
- Encourage potential customers to read your reviews (good and bad).
- Treat feedback seriously, like market research, and learn from negative feedback.
- Say thank you – acknowledging your customers for their feedback is often reward enough.
Online customer reviews can help to boost your credibility, promote your brand and increase sales. Approach them correctly and you won’t be fined.
How do you encourage reviews and/or respond to negative feedback?