Regular riskinfo eMagazine contributor, Rachel Staggs, talks to advisers about the power of client reviews, particularly within a consumer world that’s changing both the way it communicates and the way it makes decisions…
Nine out of ten dentists apparently prefer a particular brand of toothpaste – did you know that? Do you know who those nine dentists are? Do you know their credentials? Have you seen the advert I’m talking about? Chances are you have. And chances are you didn’t believe the advert. Nine out of ten of us don’t believe adverts! Who do we believe then if not the advertising agencies?
Answer: Our friends!
A recommendation from a friend carries far more weight than any other form of advertising. “Word of mouth generates more than twice the sales as paid advertising,” according to McKinsey. If McKinsey says it, it must be true!
In this industry, we know how important word of mouth is, but I don’t believe enough advisers are fostering it and making it part of their marketing strategy; it’s more a hope and pray based approach. Hoping someone will remember them and send a client their way.
One element that will really power your word of mouth marketing is getting your clients to write a review about your business. Client’s opinion travels faster and further than any other form of ‘marketing’. Social media sites, review platforms and other online sites form the medium by which the more traditional word of mouth now travels. It’s really easy for clients to tell you what they value about your advice and the experience they had with you. Conversely, it’s really easy for them to tell everyone else they know, too – it’s brilliant marketing!
In a survey conducted by The Advice Leaders Forum, 89% of advisers said they wanted to gain more referrals from existing clients but didn’t know how. According to Nielsen’s 2012 Global Trust in Advertising Survey, 70% of consumers trust online reviews from people they don’t know, up 15% from four years earlier. The survey also revealed 92% of consumers around the world say they trust word of mouth recommendations, whether from strangers, family, peers or friends, above all other forms of advertising.
Almost everybody reads reviews!
Two myths about client reviews
1. Only unhappy people write reviews
What motivates one person to write a review can be totally different from what motivates another. The fact is that if a review is easy to write, then the majority will write one. And the majority of people are nice. People typically don’t want to be seen saying negative things about a business. Conversely, they don’t want to be seen praising a business if it’s quite obvious it doesn’t deserve it. Typically, those people just won’t write a review.
- A client of mine (an adviser) had put off asking for reviews from his clients because he couldn’t think of anything nice they may have to say about him. It wasn’t that he felt they didn’t value his advice; it was just that he’d never written a review for a business himself before so he didn’t really understand how it all worked. He’s now received seven client reviews. They all love him and raved about his business, and he’s quite emotional about the whole outcome!
2. I don’t need reviews because my reputation speaks for itself
Perhaps years ago you could get away with that mindset. Unfortunately clients’ expectations have changed. They want to be empowered when they make their decisions, shop around, talk to others, get a couple of recommendations and then decide who to contact. All this time they’ve been looking online, looking at your website and any other online profile for proof; evidence that you can be trusted and can offer value and the right outcome for them.
The three ‘V’s of client reviews
Forrester research gives client reviews ‘the three V’s’ which build on each other:
The greater the volume of opinion shared; the greater the velocity at which it’s spread, the greater visibility it has – and the greater awareness potential clients get about the value of your advice. It’s the snowball effect!
What motivates clients to write a review? Typically it comes down to a couple of things:
- Reciprocity – they want to thank a business that went above and beyond
- They genuinely want to help others to find a valued business service
How to gain more client reviews
- Make it easy. Once a client has experienced your value, send them an online survey and at the bottom invite them to write a review online and gain their approval to use it in your marketing.
- Remind clients to share their experience online with their friends via your or their Facebook page.
- Explain to clients that you would like a review to inspire others to take positive actions in their lives, just like they have.
- Thank them – a simple email will suffice to say ‘thank you’ for the review.
- Ask – research conducted by SRSCC found that 80% of clients were more than happy to write a review. They just hadn’t been asked by their adviser.
- Give them a template. Sometimes trying to get your thoughts on paper can be a challenge, so give your clients a template they can easily complete. But don’t fill it out for them – that’s all wrong!
- Create a landing page; remove any other incentives and collect your entire clients’ reviews on that one page.
- Focus. Make sure you make client reviews part of your business culture.
- Look at setting up a remarks function that will allow you to thank your clients and make comments for each review.
- Don’t ever fake a review. In my travels working with advisers across Australia I occasionally meet the critics who say that reviews are normally fake. In the end, your reputation with real clients, the kind who keep the business running, can’t be faked.
We all like to be part of success stories. So, let people see how successful you are by allowing your clients to tell your story. Make the private more public – don’t be the best kept secret!
The charity Movember has done a great job of making the private more public. This is a Melbourne charity that is now supported globally. You know that people are supporting the cause because you can visually see the moustache growing; for some faster than others! But what does it create? It creates conversation, it creates word of mouth and it has created an amazing following for an amazing cause. So, how do people know clients are using your business?
In her regular Practice Marketing column, Rachel Staggs provides insights to help advisers market their business to potential (and existing) clients.
Rachel Staggs is the founder and Managing Director of SRS Coaching & Consulting, a specialist financial services consulting firm.