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How Bad Customer Reviews Can Win Sales

customer reviews 2 resizedCustomer reviews are so much more than a throwaway comment on your brand, product or service. Applied strategically, reviews can boost your SEO, increase trust and improve conversion rates. Even bad reviews can win customers – read on for BillPro’s Insight into leveraging reviews.

Customer reviews provide social proof that your products are worth buying. Over 80% of participants in a US study trusted ratings and reviews as much as recommendations from their own friends and family. 90% of customers make choices based on online reviews, versus 47% who trust paid search ads. Put simply, we trust and value people more than organisations – reviews carry greater veracity and authenticity than a brand championing its own wares.

In applying reviews to your conversion strategy, first consider the two types of reviews: Third party (i.e. Yelp, Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor etc) and first party (reviews published on your own page).

Third party reviews assist early in the search process, encouraging potential buyers to click through to your site, expand their search or explore further.

First party reviews engage customers on your own site; increasing time spent viewing, easing doubts about purchasing and positively influencing potential customers. First party reviews are ranked even more prominently than third party reviews by Google and increase conversion – 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has reviews.

How do reviews help your business stand out?

1. Reviews make your brand more memorable – personal encounters resonate more than faceless organisations.
2. Reviews increase response rates across your marketing artillery – from subscriber emails to abandoned cart messaging and click through rates, reviews increase engagement and activity. In fact, site visitors who interact with reviews and customer Q&As online are 105% more likely to purchase, and spend 11% more.
3. Reviews build trust – greater trust equals greater propensity to purchase. Proven trust equals repeat custom, loyalty, and advocacy, creating more positive reviews to attract more potential customers.

But how do you deal with negative reviews? Far from killing the sale, bad reviews (positively handled) can engender greater trust, set realistic expectations (and therefore create higher satisfaction rates) and offer continuous opportunities to improve your product and service to meet and exceed market demand.

A recent study showed bad reviews improved conversions by 67%. Over two-thirds of customers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews if no negative reviews are displayed. But it’s a fine line – too many bad reviews will deter shoppers, and unanswered bad reviews are even worse.

Our tips for managing the good, bad and ugly when it comes to reviews?

Address promptly, acknowledge and apologise

Reviews and comments are your customers’ way of reaching out, to let you know what was amazing and awful about their experience with you. Failing to respond is not only poor form, it is a wasted opportunity to remarket or redress a bad experience.

Make your response public

While hot-headed, offensive or provocative user posts are best handled offline, responding to reviews publicly, on the same forum they were first aired, is a savvy way to repair your reputation and offer a solution. Remember, it’s not just the reviewer reading your reply – it’s your potential customers, suppliers, partners and employees.

Make it personal

Stock-standard responses achieve less than not responding at all. Address the reviewer by name, make specific note of their concern, and sign off with a senior staff member’s name – not an impersonal company statement. You’re participating in a conversation. That requires people, not robots.

Be professional

Write respectfully, ensure correct grammar and punctuation, acknowledge the user’s concern and frustration, apologise for the mishap where warranted, and provide potential solutions and additional ways for the customer to follow-up directly.

Redress the balance

Once you’ve responded, invite the customer to amend or provide further feedback on your service. Bad experiences handled well can create brand advocates. Minimise the impact of one bad review with positive reviews, by encouraging all customers to write reviews as part of your post-sales communications. A well-timed, no strings attached invitation to review your service, coupled with a personalised follow-up and thank you, can generate many more positive reviews, which will not only offset negative comments, but provide rich marketing content for email campaigns, product descriptions and brand positioning.

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