This week I’ve been scouring the internet for hotels en route to Tuscany. Unsurprisingly, there are hundreds of them, but what is more difficult is finding any worth staying in. Choice can be a wonderful thing, but just how can you separate the wheat from the chaff? I plumped for independent travel recommendation websites, such as tripadvisor.co.uk, where previous guests leave helpful, honest comments about the hotel, on topics ranging from customer service to the cleanliness of the bed sheets. Customers are far more likely to trust independent websites such as these, due to the fact that the hotel in question cannot censor the feedback as they can on their business’ own website.
So how can you use feedback to enhance your business? It isn’t just the holiday industry that uses users’ comments to promote their businesses –Amazon, Argos and even Debenhams now enable their website’s visitors to rate their products. Although a star rating out of five can help the customer distinguish between a quality product and a poor one, comments can be far more useful, both for the potential customer and for you, the seller. A good review may give details the retailer forgot to include, such as the fact that an iPod isn’t sold with a charger, or recommend potential customers to use some of your other services.
Before you can start benefitting from customer testimonials, you need to seek them out. There are several ways in which you can collect feedback –like the major retailers, you could allow customers to rate and comment on your products, or if you provide services, ask your customers to fill in an evaluation form or customer comment card. Once you have collected some positive feedback, you can use it to promote your business, by adding testimonials to your website, or company literature. This doesn’t mean you should ignore negative feedback, instead, use it to improve your business by perhaps modifying certain areas, or discussing the problems with the customer in question.
Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to write your own testimonial, or employ someone to write one for you. We’ve all seen the injury lawyers’ adverts with the totally unconvincing actor who claims they were paid £3000 in compensation just for tripping over their own shoe lace, such testimonials are weak and borderline farcical. If you are going to use testimonials in your business, make them believable –include the person’s full name (after obtaining their permission), location and, if appropriate, the business they represent. You may even decide to use a photo of the customer, but if you decide to do this, make sure the photo is believable too –a perfectly airbrushed, studio shot will lead readers to assume that it is a stock photo.
Be selective, use comments that inform your customers and which help them to make a decision to buy. It can be worth including one or two which make minor criticisms as these increase the believability of the others. Whether your business’ feedback is positive, negative, or plain old neutral, use it to improve your business.
So, any comments?