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The Business Northumberland blog

In just a few words, customer reviews speak a thousand - about you, your brand, your customer service and your ethics. When your customers are raving about your service or about how amazing your product is, they’re basically telling your potential and existing customers to buy from you!

Research shows that most customers will read online reviews before making a purchase decision, and they’re more likely to make a purchase from a source that features reviews.

It’s a fact, however, that some customers either forget or need to be motivated to leave review for businesses they love but often they don’t need any encouragement if they’ve had a bad experience.

Finding ways to encourage your customers and fans to leave their feedback should form part of your routine marketing activities.

Here are some ideas to help you encourage your customers to leave a review:

Check you’ve got the technicalities sorted
Depending on the social media platform you use, or whether it be via Google, Trip Advisor or one of the many places you can gather customer feedback, make sure you have a review tab or a function that allows you to invite your connections to leave you a testimonial.
Try leaving a review yourself to make sure it works (then remove it!) and grab the link to share everywhere!

Make it easy
The average customer won’t go out of their way to leave you a review, unless they have had exceptional service or want to complain, so it’s important to make it as easy as possible.
Pop direct links to the places you want to collect your reviews such as in your email signature, in a thank you or follow-up mailshot, and in any relevant content to share on social media.

Ask!
The best time to get a product or service review is when your customer has just received their new item, or has just benefited from your service and is still excited about it.
Send them a personalised email soon after they have received your product to check everything is ok, you hope they are enjoying their new purchase and prompt them to leave feedback with a clear and easy method of doing so. If you run a service-based business, try asking your client when they are sitting with you for a testimonial at the end of your session – chances are they’ll be delighted to support you.
If you forget, send an email asking them; as we say in the North, shy bairns get nowt!

Be responsive
By replying to reviews you’ll let your audience know that there's a personality behind the business and that you’re really listening to them. It can also encourage new reviewers to post their thoughts.
Bear in mind that it’s important to respond professionally to less positive feedback instead of ignoring or deleting them. It’ll add to your credibility and let others see that you will own up to negative experiences instead of trying to sweep them under the carpet.

Promote the reviews you have
Build your existing reviews and comments into your content plan. Share them as short quotes, with a named customer where possible, along with an eye-catching image and a link to where readers can see more.

Turn it into a story
Positive reviews are great for your business, but the real value lies in the reviewer who has taken the time and effort to describe and share the experience they enjoyed with you and your business.
Further build on these relationships and turn them into case studies that you can share with the media and press and produce video testimonials from top customers to post on your website.
Nothing tells a story better than well-produced, sincere tales from real people.

Be wary of incentives
Incentivising your customers to ‘do stuff’ has its place, but when appealing for reviews it’s often viewed as morally wrong.
If you really want to do so, make sure your incentive is for writing a review, NOT just for writing a good review. Better still, turn it around and surprise reviewers by sending them a discount code or other incentive after they’ve posted a review.
That way, there is no confusion over whether your incentive affected their decision to write a review.

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