To understand the link between small business customer service reviews and more sales consider your own behaviour for a second. When you last purchased a major item what information sources did you evaluate? You probably compared the specifications of the various alternatives and searched out the best price. I guess you also checked the reviews of those who had bought or used the product.
After making a choice you may have then checked reviews to validate the decision. I suggest poor reviews may force a re-think. Evaluating reviews is a powerful driver of human behaviour labelled ‘social proof’ by the psychologist Dr Robert Cialidini.
So how to capitalise on the impact of testimonials, recommendations and reviews to generate more sales. The first step is to actually ask the customer for a review. It is important to ask for a review or testimonial as soon as possible after the customer has a positive experience of the business.
Customers are unlikely to take the time and trouble to provide a review unless it is simple for them to do so. There are many internet based and hard copy testimonial/review collection systems available. They are often relatively low cost items and simplify the process for both the customer and the business.
Reviews should be placed where potential customers are most likely to see them, both online and offline. If potential customers visit the business then the best testimonials may be framed and strategically placed. Online it is important to place reviews on the business website, on social media and most importantly on Google my Business.
Reviews And Google My Business
Any search query such as ‘service’ in ‘location’ will return the Google 3 pack near the top of Page 1 Google. As the name suggests, the panel lists three businesses, their name, address and telephone number. The listing also delivers a website and directions link and a star rating based on positive (or negative) customer reviews. For customers making a decision between three similar listings, the star rating is often the deciding factor.
A click on the business name opens a new window with more information including reviews. Google uses a number of criteria to decide which businesses show in the 3 pack. One factor is thought to be the number (and rating) of reviews.
A place in the 3 pack gives a business the advantage of a listing near the top of page 1 Google. It also delivers the potential to maximise credibility by listing customer reviews and a star rating. The business website may have a much lower position in search (page 2 or below) for the same search term.
There are three main ways to secure customer reviews on a Google my Business page. The first is to ask the customer to log into their Google My Business account and leave a review on the business. Of course, this assumes the customer has a good understanding of Google products and how to use them.
The second method assumes the customer has a smart phone but it is a simpler alternative. In this case, the customer clicks on the Google Maps app and this provides the facility to easily leave a review. The third method is to email the customer a link. Clicking the link allows the customer to place a review on the Google my Business page of the business
However, there are two important points to remember. First, the testimonials must be genuine as false ones can be spotted a mile off and destroy credibility in an instant. Second, the odd bad (not too bad!) review mixed in with the good is not a bad thing as research shows prospects trust reviews more when they see some balance.