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  • You Got Something to Say?

    For anyone with a web presence, and particularly for those who sell their products and services online, customer feedback can make or break your business. Recently studies suggest that up to 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family members. What’s more, up to one-third of consumers say that online reviews are a major factor in their purchase decisions. (Source: Website Magazine, June 2013) They lend a sense of credibility to your product or brand, create trust, and generate interest.

    Everyone likes good feedback for a job well done, but how do you get it? Delivering quality products and services to your customers is “the easy part”; getting those same customers to provide feedback on their shopping experience can be a difficult, yet crucial part of the equation.


    Follow up with your customers after the sale is always important, but many small businesses fail to recognize this as an opportunity. If you send postcards thanking a new customer for their business, ask them for their feedback. Point them in the direction of your website feedback form, or include a postage-paid card they can use to submit their comments.


    Always make it easy for your customers to provide feedback. Don’t simply ask for it without any method by which to submit it. Users are far more likely to click a form with a few yes or no questions than write a paragraph about their experience. Consider adding a form to your website specifically for this purpose, which is emailed directly to you. This allows you to control the testimonials you see on your website, and also provides an opportunity to correct any problems or address any concerns of your customer.


    You should also add your business to the online review platforms available, such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Yahoo Local, Google Places, Trip Advisor, and others. Once you have established a presence there, ask your users to review your company at one of these sites, and provide the link directly to your page.


    Never miss an opportunity to use someone’s feedback as a review. If someone compliments your product, ask them if you can quote them on your website. If you receive positive postings on Facebook or other social media outlets, contact them directly and ask them if they would be willing to submit their feedback on your website (or other formal channel for receiving customer testimonials). If you have a business Twitter account, re-tweet positive comments from users. Even comments said in passing can become powerful tools to attract more business.


    In order to garner reviews, sometimes you have to give a little in order to get something back. One suggestion is to offer a free trial-size product or an introductory rate for a service in exchange for the consumer’s feedback. The advantage here is two-fold: it encourages new customers to try your product, and gives them a sense of duty to provide feedback afterward.


    Solicit customer feedback in new, creative ways for the most engaging testimonials. Maybe you could have a contest with a product giveaway for their review. Or ask users to upload a video to Youtube or Facebook that details their product experience. Have a drawing in your shop where people can leave testimonials before leaving. As always, make it easy for them: a simple postcard form, rather than a long narrative, is going to be far more utilized.


    Some people believe that only positive reviews should be posted online or on a business website. This is easy to understand, as no one wants to paint their own company in a bad light. However, your goal is to lend credibility and trust to your brand. No one has 100% positive reviews all the time, and everyone has an occasional off day. IT’s far more important for customers to see how you handle those interactions, rather than trying to gloss over them or pretend they don’t exist. If you receive a negative review, follow-up with the customer at once. Whether you feel justified or not is not the issue; the customer FEELS as though you fell short. Acknowledge it, apologize sincerely , and ask them how you can make it better for them next time. Offer a coupon or a freebie to earn their business back. Go over and above what you would expect as a consumer, and there’s a good chance others will see this negative review as a positive.


    Once you receive a good review, don't keep it a secret! Tweet it, Facebook it, send out an email to your customers ... anything you have to do to get the word out there about you and your company. Often, a simple Facebook post or re-tweet can inspire others to offer their feedback too!


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Thank you for stopping by Aspire Marketing Partners website and blog! I hope to share with you the insight I have gained in operating a small business, and I welcome comments from others with similar experiences. It's when we join together to form a vast collective of ideas, insights and experience that we will gain the most!


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