Why reviews are great for business (11-3-2013)

So you’ve determined where you’re going on vacation. You can’t wait to have that fruity drink in your hand. And now you’re ready to book your accommodations. Chances are you’re going to do your due diligence and check out what others are saying before you make your decision.

There’s no doubt online reviews are powerful. If our country’s economic downturn taught us anything, it’s that yes, we’re still going to spend, but we’re going to spend a bit more carefully. And money is not the only consideration; there’s also that other precious resource called our time. We don’t want to waste either when both are being called upon at every turn. Remember that last bad movie you suffered through and the two-plus hours of your life you’ll never get back? Bet you wish you would have looked a bit more into the reviews first.

Reviews are great for your business for several reasons. Here are just a few:
• If a customer loves their experience at your jewelry store, they are likely to share that experience with their friends, verbally and through social media channels. Have you ever gotten a new customer via a referral? It can feel wonderfully effortless to have your best customers essentially drive business to your door by recommending you to friends and colleagues. Instead of picking up a phone and calling half a dozen people to ask for a recommendation, people are surveying their Twitter followers, monitoring which brands their friends “like” on Facebook and looking for reviews by trusted peers. And it’s becoming standard practice. In fact, Bazaarvoice reports that a whopping 84 percent of Americans are more likely to check online reviews before buying than they were just one year ago. And sorry, it doesn’t matter if your business does most, if not all of its sales offline because you’re still competing for those dollars with your competition online.
Reviews are good for SEO. Reviews help people find your business online, great for new customers. For example, Google Places displays reviews along with search results. Try searching for something right now. See? And businesses with higher ratings draw more clicks. Think about it -– if you’re a pretty good cook, you’re more likely to try a recipe with great reviews before you serve it to friends or guests at a party. Like to read? You may be irritated if you devoted hours to reading the book that got lots of hype but ended up being … hype. You learned your lesson once the hard way, right?
Reviews build trust. Consumers are becoming more skeptical of what a brand says about their product. They need that information to be backed up by a third party. Great reviews can be the deciding factor for a customer to pick you versus a competitor. The two new restaurants you were torn against trying? Bet you picked the one with the best reviews. It’s only human nature.

So what’s a jeweler to do? Ideally, you want reviews to occur naturally, but let’s face it. The reason customers are checking you out online first are because they’re busy — and writing about your business after a great experience is probably still not going to be first thing on their minds. Here are ways to plant some seeds:

1. Create a small bag stuffer asking them to post a review about their experience and provide the link so they can do this easily.

2. Consider adding the request to your monthly e-blast or send a review request email to your new customers. Bought anything online lately? Bet you’re familiar with this tactic leading businesses such as Amazon are employing for feedback. Consumers are more motivated to respond when the transaction has been recent.
In fact, after my recent purchase of new Spinning shoes, I was encouraged to post a review the day after my shipment arrived. It was easy, I was notified that my review was going to be evaluated, I was notified again when it was approved, and now I receive alerts when someone finds my review to be “helpful.” I have to admit that it’s pretty cool to get that kind of immediate process feedback and to know that what you post online may lead another person in this big, wide world to make a similar purchase.

3. Got some great reviews already? Use them as testimonials online and in your other, traditional advertising efforts.
What if some reviews aren’t so great? You may be tempted to purge them or ignore them, but don’t. And definitely don’t even think about “buying” a great review. (Yes, you can do this!) A phony can usually be spied from miles away. It’s why huge companies like Amazon evaluate them first before they push them live. Unfortunately, not everyone has the budget or manpower of Amazon. If you’re a jeweler and you see a bad review of your store, plan to respond but just know in many cases of not-so-stellar reviews, a great customer will jump to your defense. Overall, you want people to be truthful in what they say so you can address real problems and fix them. Customers are looking for transparency and honesty, so be real in your interactions with customers. Online searchers are smart enough to make a judgment in your favor if the majority of what is being said is good. And with the potential for an online review, you know you and your employees will work hard to keep them that way.

Bron: Angie Ash, www.nationaljeweler.com, 11 maart 2013

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