Making shopping experiences better for everyone
Joakim Ditlev

How to Create Brand Advocates Using Customer Reviews

By on Thursday, May 31st, 2012 in Customer Service

Who is your favorite customer? A customer that leaves a lot of money on your desk may be quite convenient, but what about the customers who keep coming back? Or even better: The loyal customers who may not spend a lot of money, but who are so excited about your business that they speak out loud about you. Those customers are your brand advocates and cultivating relationships with such customers could mean a lot to your business. Keep reading to find out how you can use customer reviews to build brand advocates.

When a customer reviews your business their message should not ignored or left unanswered. Most companies spend resources monitoring and answering negative reviews and that makes perfect sense: You want to defend your reputation and show other customers that you care. If you do this well and act in time, you can convert a formerly negative customer into a satisfied one, who neither adds nor subtracts from your overall brand value.

5.000.000 missed brand advocates

Surprisingly, a typical company with a review strategy in place and resources assigned for dealing with customer feedback will simply stop here. If you can neutralize angry customers, you can go one step further and turn neutral customers into brand advocates.

I rarely find companies that reply to all reviews on Trustpilot and have wondered why. If you get a compliment in real life, you would at least say “Thank you,” but many positive reviews are actually left unanswered. With the current number of reviews on Trustpilot, that’s roughly 5.000.000 missed opportunities that could result in brand advocates or at least stronger customer relationships.

customer compliments companySo, let’s say you just received a 5-star review from a positive customer. What’s your next step?

Here’s how you could turn that customer into a brand advocate:

  • Say thanks. As trivial as it may seem to yourself and the others reading along, it can make all the difference to that one single customer writing the review. That customer spends time giving your business a compliment and sharing it in public and when you answer, the customer will get notified via email. A personal, direct message from the company you endorse. What’s not to like about that?
  • Keep the conversation open-ended. Brand advocates love to be involved and spend time with your brand by suggesting improvements to your products or processes. Just think about how brands like Starbucks and LEGO tapped into their community to improve their business. Less than that will work as well. Just ask if there is anything your customer would suggest and make sure you give clear instructions on where to submit that feedback.
  • Don’t assume – ask questions. When dealing with customer complaints in public, you want to give a clear answer with no additional questions to avoid an argument. With positive reviews it’s totally the opposite, so avoid assuming that what you are doing is right. If a customer writes in a review that your website is great, ask what parts of the website s/he liked the most. Or if the review states that you deliver good service, you can follow up and ask the customer what they felt was particularly special at your store.

Such an approach drives conversations; you signal that you are listening to your customers, while your positive customers feel treated in a special way during after-sales too. That’s three birds with one stone.

As much as I would have loved to share examples of companies using Trustpilot to create brand advocates, I could not find any one that takes it to the next level.

But please tell us if your business is doing well here and prove that the marketing wizards have not just made it all up.

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Speak your mind!

  1. Jack says:

    Hi Joakim,

    Why don’t you do this on Trustpilot’s own customer reviews? – Is it too time consuming, is the yield not substantial enough, or is there any other reasons??

    • Joakim Ditlev says:

      @Jack – I asked for this question, didn’t I :-)
      We’re convinced that it will pay off when answering all reviews, but we’re not there yet. It’s a matter of resources and building good processes for handling reviews across all languages. So I guess we’re in the league with most other companies right now.

  2. I can see a downside to this – some customers are willing to leave a comment and a rating, but prefer not to recieve unnessary mail from the retailer. This leaves me with a desire for the customer to have the option of ticking off somewhere, in order to let me (retailers) know that they dont want any reply – maybe you could include this option in future development of your excellent review system(?)

    • Joakim Ditlev says:

      @Ib Thanks for the kind words. So what you are looking for is a kind of unsubscribe feature, so you don’t send out email invitations to customers, who already told that they don’t want to receive emails from you. We heard such feature requests before and are working on a good way to get around this without leaving a hole to fraud the system. If you have additional feedback and ideas on how to handle this, you are welcome to contact me directly.

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