Boost Your Customer Reviews Strategy This Holiday Season

The importance of online reviews increases every holiday season as more and more consumers choose to conduct their holiday shopping online. A recent survey from PowerReviews reports that 99% of consumers will shop online this season, while half plan to do all of their holiday shopping online. 

Although price remains the factor with the greatest influence over consumers’ holiday purchase decisions, ratings and reviews come in a close second. According to the survey, nearly 3 out of 4 consumers indicate that reading reviews has an impact on which gifts they choose to buy. 

Furthermore, more than one-third of shoppers claim that online ratings and reviews will have a more substantial influence on their purchase decisions this season than last. Among Gen Z shoppers, this statistic was significantly higher at over 50%. 

This means having a strategic customer review strategy in place when the holiday shopping frenzy begins is essential. As the season of shopping nears, keep the following in mind to leverage reviews in a way that instills trust in potential customers, loyalty in current customers, and enables you to extend your reach.

4 Customer Review Insights

1. Reading reviews starts at the window-shopping stage.

While you may think that customers don’t start delving into reviews until they’re close to making a purchase, the truth is many consumers will check reviews even when they’re just trying to get a feel for what’s on the market. Because online reviews are displayed prominently on so many different platforms, consumers are starting to form opinions about products and services more quickly than ever. At a glance, they can get a feel for what a business offers and what their customers think after making a purchase. 

As a result, having solid reviews can help keep you on the short list of potential customers when they start narrowing down their gift ideas.

2. Reviews aren’t a one-way street.

Consumers know by now that businesses can respond to reviews at will – both the good and the bad. When a company responds to reviews in the right manner, this can boost their online reputation and instill trust in window-shoppers, leading them closer to that all-important purchase decision. 

Responses also give shoppers a good idea of the personality and identity of the business, details they may reflect on should they be interested in making a repeat purchase. Whether you choose to “like” the comment or respond with a personalized thank you, you’ll impress current and potential customers alike. 

3. Negative reviews aren’t the end of the world. 

It’s not always easy to keep your cool when you receive what feels like an unfair negative review. After all, a one- or two-star review can make a serious dent in your overall rating unless you have a significant number of reviews stacked up. 

However, the key here is to remember that negative reviews don’t have to be a negative for your business. Consumers understand that unfair reviews happen – they see them all the time. Even negative reviews that aren’t unfair won’t necessarily ding you in a window shopper’s mind; they realize making mistakes is part of growing as a business. 

What matters is how businesses react. A respectful response is a necessary first step, as is actually acting on constructive criticism whenever possible. A real win is when you’re able to win the customer back by going above and beyond to resolve the issue, something that will stick in holiday shoppers’ minds much longer than your overall rating. 

4. Stay on Santa’s “Nice” list. 

Hiring someone to write fake online reviews will put you on the “naughty” list in a jiffy. Most platforms can quickly detect reviews that aren’t authentic. Not only will they remove these reviews, but they might even penalize your business for trying to cut corners. 

Should you be so lucky as to avoid catching the eye of the hosting website, chances are the very consumers you’re trying to attract may call your bluff, which will only cause you to lose credibility. Stay on the “Nice” list and you’ll be rewarded with real reviews from customers whose trust you’ve earned.

And Why NPS Adopters Are 2 Steps Ahead

Google recently updated their policies around what’s commonly known as review gating.

Review gating is a process where businesses first find out if a customer’s experience was positive or negative. When businesses only ask those who report having a positive experience to leave a review, this is known as “gating.”

According to one of the key changes in Google’s terms of service, businesses should not “discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”

Google realizes that consumers use their reviews to make purchasing decisions. They also realize that, in order to continue to be a reliable source, they’ll need to make adjustments to their ecosystem, as we’ve also seen in their recent removal of anonymous reviews.

What does this mean for companies that only ask for reviews from their happiest customers? Right now, with very little info coming from Google, it is unclear. Many businesses are choosing the “wait and see” approach as there haven’t been any reports of companies being penalized for continuing business as usual. Others are taking a more proactive stance and asking all their customers for reviews, regardless of sentiment.

At Listen360, we believe it’s important to look beyond reviews when making decisions about running your business. Negative reviews stem from negative experiences. When great experiences and loyal customers are a priority, stellar reviews follow. This is the essence of the Net Promoter System (NPS) and is the reason that businesses who’ve adopted the NPS methodology are two steps ahead.

Businesses that ask for reviews in tandem with NPS are less likely to be impacted by this Google policy change. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Customers want to be heard. NPS gives detractors a way to express their concerns privately. By giving them an outlet, they’re less likely to follow it up with public negativity, even if given the option.
  • Finding out who is dissatisfied and looking for ways to make it right affords businesses the opportunity to generate positive reviews that would have otherwise been nonexistent.
  • By looking for trends in customer feedback, businesses can prioritize and tackle larger issues that impact more people which, in turn, influence more reviews.

If you love your customers, they’ll love you right back. Adopting customer-centric strategies like NPS helps drive repeat business and increases the quantity and quality of reviews organically.

Whether or not your organization chooses to ask some customers or all customers for reviews thereafter, nothing beats knowing the true drivers of customer loyalty at your organization.

If you’re curious about how Listen360 can help you build a brand that customers adore, give us a shout.