If you run an e-commerce business and sell products and services online, customer service is likely at the top of your priority list. If not, it should be. After conducting a survey of 1,000 online shoppers, I found that customer service emerged as a driving force behind a company’s ability to gather online reviews.
Online reviews are “the new word of mouth,” with nearly 90% of shoppers reporting they read reviews when considering a purchase. Nearly one-in-five customers identify reviews as one of the most important research factors prior to purchase.
This isn’t too surprising. After all, companies that prioritize great service are more likely to cultivate customer loyalty in return.
Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between customer service and online reviews.
Satisfied customers are more likely to share online reviews
There will always be a percentage of grumpy customers who seem bent on writing negative reviews. After all, even National Parks –including California’s enchanting Carlsbad Caverns and Oregon’s majestic Crater Lake – have one star reviews on Yelp. But new research suggests that negative experiences are a relatively uncommon motivator.
Among customers who write reviews, only 2 percent are motivated by an especially negative encounter with a company or its products and services. By comparison, one-third of customers who write reviews are motivated by an especially positive experience. The lesson? You’re more likely to attract customer reviews if you deliver a great experience.
Channel your inner Bonnie Raitt by giving customers something to talk about in their reviews – namely, the impeccable quality of your products and friendly, knowledgeable staff.
Negative reviews can become positive opportunities
Any business that collects online reviews will eventually hear from an unhappy customer. Although criticism can sting, you can still make the best of a less-than-ideal situation.
Customers like to see how a business handles negative feedback; for more than a quarter of consumers, it’s important that businesses publicly engage with negative comments. Make it your mission to reply to every single negative review with professionalism and a heartfelt desire to rectify bad experiences.
Even if you think the customer is being unreasonable or just plain wrong, potential customers reading your reviews may still be impressed by your desire to help. Additionally, studies have found that nearly 100 percent of customers are willing to give businesses a second chance as long as their problems are solved effectively.
Above all, recognize that even in cases where the delivery might be prickly, your customer cared enough about your business to offer honest feedback.
Offer solutions before making requests
Nearly one quarter of customers who write reviews do so for one simple reason – the business sent them an email and asked! Email outreach is an effective way to keep in touch with customers who have made a purchase. Not only can email outreach result in customer reviews, but it can also build loyalty that drives future purchases. Like anything, some email marketing strategies are more effective than others.
Digital marketing experts recommend that before companies request reviews, they should first gauge a customer’s satisfaction. In practice, this means that approximately one week after a product or service has been delivered, companies should send an email to see if customers are experiencing any difficulties.
By making it easy to connect with a customer service representative, companies can ensure that any problems are fixed as seamlessly as possible – before a dissatisfied customer makes a return or pens a scathing review.
Once any difficulties have been sorted, you already know your customer is satisfied, and that you’ve impressed them with your attention to detail. You’ll be perfectly positioned to send one more email requesting a review.
If customers are won over by your ability to stay gracious when faced with negative feedback, they’ll really be impressed when you proactively check in to make sure they’re happy.
Great customer service always pays off
At the end of the day, there’s no downside to delivering outstanding customer service. From increasing the likelihood of collecting good online reviews from customers to ensuring their loyalty, businesses that put customers first reap countless benefits.
Michelle Delgado is a content developer for Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews firm in Washington DC. She covers websites, e-commerce, and app development. Connect with @clutch_co on Twitter.
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