Even the most cursory of web searches around the topic of building customer trust makes it clear that customer reviews are one of the most powerful and persuasive tools available to you…
But first of all, a quick reality check… What’s so great about trust? In Adobe’s Future of Marketing survey of August 2021 some 70% of customers questioned said they would stop using a company completely if their trust was broken – and a Gartner Research survey puts that figure at 84%. So, it’s no exaggeration to say that without your customers’ trust you’re pretty much bust. Obviously, the degree of trust you’re demanding of your customers depends to some extent on the monetary value of the transaction – and the personal importance of the purchase.
For instance, if you’re building a home extension or providing healthcare services, trust is crucial – perhaps rather less so if you’re selling a pack of paper clips! But even then, no one can afford to ignore the power of trust. After all, it’s what the entire concept of a brand is based on.
Social proof of your trustworthiness
The fact is that these days customers are web-savvy and brand-savvy too. Which means they’re not as trusting of brands as they once were. They do, however, tend to trust other customers’ recommendations – so the value of online reviews to brands has grown immensely, as the success of what you might call recommendation-based brands such as Trustpilot and Checkatrade shows. But simply adding a few positive customer reviews to your site is not enough. People are all too aware that fake positive (and indeed negative) reviews are rife, even on some on the biggest global brand websites. So, you’ve got to provide social proof: your reviews must be trustworthy and, ideally, users must be able to filter them to find reviews that are relevant to what they’re looking for.
Show you care
Just the act of soliciting reviews can in itself be a point in your favour – because so many businesses don’t even bother. They’re missing a trick – well, several tricks, actually – because as far as customers are concerned, they’re saying they don’t care. In contrast, when you ask your customers for reviews, you’re showing you value them – and that you’re ‘grown-up’ and professional enough to accept criticism as well as compliments.
Keep an eye on things
OK, beyond doing your best at what you do, you can’t change what people say in their reviews. But it is important to monitor as much as possible the reviews you’re getting – not just on your own website/s and social media channels but also on review platforms such as Google, Facebook, Yelp and so on. If you miss the complimentary reviews, you’re missing out on a chance to build grassroots brand loyalty by promoting them – and if you miss the bad ones, you don’t have a chance to explain, apologise or perhaps to demonstrates to other prospective customers how the review is untrue/unfair.
Proactive with the positive
If you keep your finger on the pulse you’ll know when someone posts a review that’s particularly glowing – or perhaps that highlights an element of your product or service you’re keen to promote. Those rave reviews are gold dust – so be positive and reach out to that customer and seek permission to use that review everywhere you can! Not only is that great marketing in general, it seals your bond with that particular customer and all their contacts.
Nipping the negative in the bud
One of the aspects of online reviews that give marketers nightmares is the determined and vindictive negative reviewer – otherwise known as a troll… Of course there’s not much you can do to stop someone posting untruths or deliberately hurtful ‘reviews’ but by being proactive you can mitigate the damage they cause – or at least report false claims to the relevant site administrator. What’s more, if a negative review is nevertheless a fair one, see it as your chance to put things right – you might just change that customer’s mind about you. And even if not, your measured, reasonable and helpful response can go a long way in reassuring others that the negative review is the exception not the rule.
Of course, there’s much more to the business of soliciting, monitoring and managing online reviews to maximise trust than we can cover in this brief article – but we hope it’s a nudge in the right direction. It’s certainly a direction we always take our clients in.