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Are client testimonials doing SMBs more harm than good?

12 Sep 2013

Many SMBs are underestimating and even alienating their target audiences by continuing to rely on ‘manufactured’ client testimonials as most customers are seeking independent opinions from their peers when reviewing a business or service.

Founder of business review website, Fiona Adler, believes businesses need to wake up to the fact that consumers are seeking honest opinions that have grown organically.

“Small and medium businesses may be missing the mark when it comes to engaging their consumers," she warns.

"Being at the forefront of consumer opinion, I am witness to the fact that businesses are becoming more sceptical than ever before when it comes to choosing a supplier.

"This may be due to something negative, such as previous bad experience, or on the other end of the scale a service may sound too good to be true.

"Either way consumers are now becoming far savvier about how they shop."

Here's how to encourage your customers to share their opinions of your business:

1. Bring up reviews in conversation

Build rapport with your customers when they’re right in front of you. Casually slipping it into conversation works best. Enquire them if they’ve seen reviews on your business and ask what they think. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t, the fact that you’re letting them know other customers are so satisfied they’re willing to tell others in writing is often enough to encourage them to do the same.

2. Make it impossible for customers to ignore

Shop displays, signs, your website, point-of-sale or email signature – all are perfect places to either display an existing review or a note to direct others to review. You could even print your reviews out on a brag book and display for all to see. Don’t forget to make it clear that they're from an independent source and that customer feedback and word-of-mouth is the very currency your business lives on.

3. Ask for a review

Asking your customers for feedback actually has the effect of increasing their satisfaction as it shows that you care about their experience. If they’re singing your praises then don't be shy or embarrassed to ask them to go online and let others know about it. It may surprise you that customers often want to reward a business. Let them know how your business thrives on reviews and they may reward you by leaving their own.

4. Make reviewing easy

Give customers a flyer with simple instructions on how to review you, send them an email with a link to your listing, or include a "Review Us" button on your website to make it super easy for customers to review your business.

5. Take advantage of technology

While customers are being served or waiting it's the perfect time to ask for a review. Keep portable devices such as an iPad in store and hand to them where you see an opportunity. The novelty will keep them entertained. One hairdresser in Melbourne recently climbed to almost 100 reviews in just a few months simply by using this method.

Are client testimonials doing your business more harm than good? Tell us your thoughts below