Customers are Optimists
Potential customers want to read good things about you. Especially here in the US. I recently read that the average review on a shopping website was 4.3 on a 5 point scale. So anything below 4 is not average, it’s below average. So, there is not just grade inflation in schools. There is grade inflation everywhere.
So people want good reviews. But they don’t trust universally positive reviews.
But Customers are Savvy and Suspicious
I had a meeting scheduled with a potential client recently. Before going, I checked a review site and the firm had 32 five-star reviews. The reviews listed first names and last initials and raved about the company.
My first reaction was a vague sense of unease, almost distrust.
I checked out the reviews to see the dates. I know that if there are too many from the same day or the same week, this usually means the company got their friends to post them and they weren’t real. (In fact, a recent study by Gartner showed that many reviews are paid for by the companies being reviewed — and the problem is growing.)
Next, I checked out the language. Were there too many saying exactly the same things? Where they specific or too general? I know if they sound the same and aren’t specific, then again, they might not be real. (For some examples of this, look at Amazon book reviews. They even show if similar language is used in more than one review.)
When I met with the owner, I asked him about the reviews. “Had no one ever been dissatisfied?” He told me they worked hard to have good client experiences but that there had been a couple of comments that were not great and he had spent time, “getting them taken care of." When I asked for more information, he told me he wasn’t able to get them off all of the websites, but where he could, he challenged the reviewers and made them rescind their statements.
There is an old Chinese proverb, “Never let a man dig a hole so deep, he loses face climbing out of it.” Putting people on the defensive can have severe repercussions. Not just with the person who has written the review and now is hostile but also those reading the reviews. They don’t want to see aggression or arrogance from a company.
You can explain your point of view, but accept that the person complaining also had a POV. So, again, apologize for the misunderstanding and say you will work harder in the future.
To overcome negative reviews, you need more positive ones. This is where the concept of “net promoters” or “super fans” comes in. Conduct a survey of your customers and ask them the following question, “ How likely is it that you would recommend (company name) to a colleague, friend or associate?”
Have a 10-point scale below (with 10 listed as most likely and 1 as least likely). The clients who give you at least an 8 (usually a 9 or 10) can be considered your potential “super fans” and many will be willing to help you with a good review.
So, how do you acquire “super fans?” That is what good marketing is all about.
- One of our clients started a user group with his "super fans." He gathered them together once a quarter to give advice and suggestions.
- Another business owner had special events for her "super fans." She gave out discounts and prizes.
- A third gave tickets to local social events.
Are your marketing strategies and tactics designed and integrated in such a way as to develop a loyal group of customers? And once you have them, how do you reward them? People need to feel appreciated and connected. They like to be part of a connected group.
What has worked for you?