Few things warm business owners’ hearts more than positive customer feedback. (If we’re truthful, it’s why we got into business in the first place.) But, as well as putting a smile on our dials, customer love is great news for business – particularly when it takes place online.
According to Nielsen research, 78% of customers trust online reviews more than any other type of advertising or marketing. So, is your business getting enough love? If not, here are four steps to turbo-charge your online word-of-mouth marketing.
1. Earn the love (be loveable)
Back to basics: unless customers are genuinely happy with your product/service, they’re unlikely to give positive feedback. Tricks don’t help – just provide good service.
Bigger businesses often struggle with this because the marketing department is typically separated from operations and customer service. Here smaller businesses have a distinct advantage. They are often more able to stay close to customers, fix any problems, and endeavour to excel at something (E.G. delivery time, customer insight, product selection, freshness, advice, installation, etc).
2. Don’t be shy; ask for what you want
If you’re providing first-rate service, but you’re still not feeling the love, the solution may be as simple as letting your customers know how important their feedback is.
There’s nothing wrong with telling customers that you rely on word-of-mouth. Most folks simply don’t think of it until they see others doing it, or you mention it. So be sure to tell them you’d appreciate them reviewing you, letting their friends know, liking your Facebook page or whatever.
3. Make it public
While private is nice, public displays of affection are really what you’re after. Social media is word-of-mouth marketing’s bezzie mate. It goes to your customers’ contacts, and is by nature highly personal.
On the other hand, the lifespan of information on Twitter and Facebook is limited. Sometimes posts are ‘buried’ within minutes.
Review sites, forums and blogs tend to rank well in Google searches and therefore have more of a lasting impact. Each positive mention adds to your business’ online reputation and boosts the likelihood of would-be customers finding you – whether they need your services next week or in six months’ time.
Whatever feedback you receive, leverage it as much as possible. Tweet and Facebook your reviews, display your tweets on your website, and ‘like’ any blog mentions.
4. Respond graciously and gratefully
Make sure you’ve got alerts to notify you of online mentions. Engage with the people that are mentioning you online – they are your ‘key advocates’.
Personally and publicly thank your customers for their feedback and stress how focused you are on providing a great service. Your response shows everyone the type of business you are and encourages customers to share the loving.
Fiona Adler is a founder of Word-Of-Mouth On the Web, Australia’s No 1 business reviews website. She has an MBA, a degree in marketing, a background in strategic consulting, and a passion for small business, customer service and consumer empowerment.