For any business online, customer rating becomes instantly important. Everyone is reaching for the 5-star collection on their product pages and business profiles. Good ratings become your business reputation. After all, don’t you check the reviews before you buy something? It’s a useful, vital source of information. And customers have high expectations. That’s why a rating of 3.8 and 3.9 can be frustrating. Breaking through into four stars exposes you to an entire population of customers who always sort by “4 Stars and Up”. Discerning customers who spend the extra click for the best products.
If you’re on track to boost into 4-star territory, these tactics can help you reach the necessary momentum. Remember, your rating is an average. This means it’s a combination of all your active reviews per platform. Each platform has its own formula that will usually not be disclosed. Each has levers that can be pushed with effort and customer response to increase your ratings.
The Importance of a Strong Reputation
Your business’ online reputation is something that needs constant maintenance. Reputation has become part of customer culture. It’s a good system. Customers rely on ratings to tell the difference between serious and counterfeit brand. They need to count the 1-stars and read the qualifications for 5-stars. We all need to know the difference between 1-star and 5-star brands. But making your way up from the middle takes dedication, both in collecting reviews and earning 5-stars with comments.
With your individual products, customers use ratings to tell quality products from things that break. From there, reviews tell if a brand makes things right when products have flaws.
Your business reputation is where customers will look for locations, purchases, contracts, and employment. So wherever your business can have an aggregate reputation, be aware and maintain the activity there. It will influence who works with you in many ways.
Have Bogus Reviews Removed
Nearly all brands have to deal with a playing field of bogus reviews. Fake positive reviews are bad enough. But ever few negative reviews a company receives is likely to be partially or completely fake. There are several ways to receive a bogus review, and how you deal with them depends on the review platform. The good news is that if you can have them removed, your overall average can jump upward without that weight on the average.
Bogus reviews often come from competition looking to sandbag your ratings. These often come in clusters of similarly-worded complaints that won’t respond to outreach and/or have problems that can’t be solved. Or they refuse solutions. The other common form of bogus review is trolling. Some people who enjoy causing strife will leave vulgar, spammy, or falsely negative reviews.
Both types of review, if proven false, can be taken down from public record. Each platform has its own process for removing reviews, so you’ll need to approach each review based on the platform and how obviously fake it is.
Start Treating Low Stars Like Customer Service Requests – Turn Frowns Upsidedown
An essential element of upper-star ratings is reducing your low ratings. There are a number of ways to get rid of one-stars. You can prevent them with great quality, and you can make low-stars right with proactive customer service. You can also get bogus low ratings removed by understanding each platform.
The first and best policy is to start treating any low-star rating (3 or lower) as requests for customer service. These are people who paid (ideally) and wanted a good experience, but weren’t satisfied. A percentage of them could be satisfied if you pursue the issue even a small amount. Assess each comment and low-star rating individually. Try to discern what kind of solution would resolve all of the customer’s practical complaints.
There’s actually a formula for turning low-stars into 4- and 5-star ratings.
Always start with an apology. Even if you don’t understand what’s wrong, or if it’s not directly the company’s fault. It’s okay to be sorry the customer had a bad time. If the product arrived broken, apologize for the disappointment and compensate the value. If there was a shipping error, apologize for the inconvenience. If the customer is simply unsatisfied with an unflawed product, apologize for their discomfort if nothing else.
Give Contact Information
The next step is to connect low-star customers with customer service. Give them contact information through at least two channels where they can get help with their order. It’s actually best to take these resolutions out of the public eye. Other customers will see that you attend to those who have a bad experience. But the private and sometimes personal details of an order complaint remain internal.
Customers are then free to talk about billing, shipping, and be compensated in scammer-tempting ways without revealing these details to the internet at large as review-comments.
Explain How You’ll Make it Right
Complete the formula by offering to make the situation right. Broken or flawed products might be replaceable, or a fix might come through an extra component part or fixture packet. Offer store credits or a nice discount code. Or walk through a challenging account snarl-up if that’s what the customer needs. Explain the solution before you provide it so customers can relax, it makes the whole experience pleasant and solution-forward. For many unhappy customers this will be an enjoyable surprise.
Answer Questions Asked Through Review Platforms
Of course, not every positive star-influence you can make will be in the form of low-stars. Many people ask questions and express mild displeasure through the reviewing platforms. Consider someone who gives you 4 stars, but their detailed review includes complaints. Or the valuable 5-star reviewer who has several good questions in their review.
It is well worth your brand reputation to chime in and answer these concerns. Look for opportunities to answer questions and to satisfy customers. The 4-star might transform into a 5-star if you make their small complaint right. And their review might glow with satisfaction that you reached out to make their experience perfect.
Answering questions also looks fantastic to new customers doing their research. They may want or benefit from the answers to questions asked, and will know that you’ll provide answers if they have questions.
Habitually Thank Reviewers for Their Reviews
When someone leaves you a review, good or bad, thank them. Especially in the early days when you have less than a hundred reviews. Each and every one of your early reviewers matters, and thanking reviewers can encourage others to leave a review. Express your gratitude for the customer’s purchase, for their time reviewing, and for their valuable feedback.
When you reach enough review velocity that constant thanking is impractical, take the time to thank the truly warm or detailed reviews. Let your customers know that if they take the effort to write something meaningful, you notice and appreciate their time, passion, or attention to detail. Any time you feel compelled to thank, do so. Be careful to keep it fair so customers can rely on a thanks if they work to get one.
Use Glowing Reviews as Website Testimonials
When you get a truly positive review, post it on your website as a testimonial. Testimonials are valuable, detailed, and vivid reviews that quickly demonstrate how your brand satisfied customers. Testimonials are not only inspiring for new customers, they are also encouraging for others to write glowing reviews of their own. Many people would be pleased to see their review as a testimonial, and will quickly give permission to use their review if you ask.
Testimonials are often collected on purpose, but the best, most genuine testimonials are those written by independent customer sentiment. Those who are so happy that they write a great, specific review are the most likely to persuade others with their relatable stories. Do whatever is necessary per platform to attain your best reviews to display on your website and possibly export via API to display as a live element.
Send Friendly Review Inserts in Every Package
One of the single best ways to inspire new reviews is to send friendly package inserts. When you ship a product, include a card, certificate, flyer, or even a useful extra that includes an encouragement to review. Thank your customer for their purchase. Make it clear that if they have any problems, they can reach out and receive a speedy solution. And if they’re completely satisfied, to please leave their review at an easy-to-follow URL. The easier it is to follow both paths, the better.
Many brands send a two-sided card. One side says “Satisfied?” or “If You’re Happy, Let Us Know!”. The other side says “Have a Problem? Contact Us!” This approach is simple and perfectly serves several purposes. First, it creates two distinct channels. The first channel sends happy customers to write positive reviews. The second path sends unhappy customers to customer service where they can be helped, not rushing to the 1-star button in outrage.
The insert also gives you the opportunity to surprise your customers. Send rewards like discount codes or little branded extras that surprise and delight. Let your customers know that you’re truly grateful for their first purchase and reward them for having shopped with you. Many more will jump online to share an unexpectedly awesome experience. You’ll earn five stars and even redeem lower ratings with a magnanimous and welcoming surprise in the box.
Send Post-Delivery Followup Emails to Check In
No one likes to be surveyed right after they order an item. Sometimes brand follow-up emails come before the item even arrives at the house. To prevent dissatisfied reviews and encourage positive responses, your follow-up email timing must be more refined. Use package tracking information to know for sure when a customer has received their delivery. Then assume it may take them a few hours to a few days to unpackage and initially explore their purchase.
So somewhere between five hours and three days after a package arrives, send your follow-up email. If a customer has enjoyed their first few uses of the product, they may be inspired to write a positive review. If there’s a reason to be dissatisfied, you’re offering help before the customer has even resolved to say something. You might just win a 5-star from making a problem right before the customer could complain. Not to mention a constant prevention of low-star reviews.
Improving Your Reputation Through Review Management
With careful review management and an understanding of how to market for better reviews, you too can push through the 4-star ceiling into the top tier of online sellers. Remember to keep an eye on every review platform, stay responsive and positive, and look for ways to make a customer’s experience perfect no matter what star-rating they give. Your clear and positive effort to problem-solve will be just as appealing as your rising star rating to new and returning customers. For more great tips to benefit your online business, contact BWS Internet Marketing Services.