The smartest thing I can say about growing a business right now is this:
It’s all about those four things. Nothing more.
The first two have been talked about—a lot. You have to market your product, online and off, so more people learn about your company. Then you have to create the sale.
The latter two, follow-up and review, aren’t talked about as much. Of course, phrases like, “It’s easier to sell more to an old customer than getting a new one” and “The lifetime value of the customer is important” have always floated around. Lately though, it has dawned on me that it’s more important than ever to…
- Create value for your customers.
- Harvest the value your product or service generates.
- Steer the harvested value toward an online reflection (i.e., a review).
Serendipity led me to discovery.
At my company, we developed a new product that didn’t live up to expectations. That led to a lot of feedback from agitated customers through email and on social media. A lot of it was deserved, and it motivated everybody in the company to put in more effort.
Six months later, results of our hard work began to show in the form of five-star reviews on Amazon, which is becoming an increasingly important sales channel for us.
Reviews are everywhere.
Facebook, Uber, LinkedIn, Yelp, Amazon, Airbnb, Upwork, TripAdvisor, Apple’s App Store, Google Play, IMDb, YouTube—all of them are successful, and all of them have users creating and curating their content. It is both smart, valuable and scalable, if done right.
What is really going on at a macro perspective is that technology, and especially the internet, is in the midst of making the whole world transparent. From intangible to tangible. Your company’s secrets, good and bad, can find their way online in mere minutes.
Back in the day, a few bad interactions with customers were somewhat accepted because the message traveled slowly. In any case, management had a chance to train and correct the employee who made the mistake before the survival of the company was endangered. You don’t get that chance today.
On the flipside, today, sharing a great experience online with 400 to 500 of your closest internet friends is prioritized over the spirit of the moment.
If you are able to organize this process, nurture and harvest it, you are very likely to become a winner in the review economy.
Reviews are gold.
There is money in gathering reviews. Why?
First, we as consumers increasingly navigate society based on reviews. Where should we eat in Barcelona? Hmm… Let’s check TripAdvisor. Which running shoe should I buy? Let me check RunRepeat. What movie should we watch tonight? Let me check IMDb.
Second, all the platforms mentioned above are based on algorithms and code that work automatically without human interference. However, indirectly, there is plenty of human interference. For every good review you gather, it’s another step forward for you in the eyes of the algorithm. If one person likes you, it’s likely that will be a good choice for the next person as well.
We have experienced this in our company. Since we started prioritizing gathering reviews on our Amazon page, we have seen 50 percent month-on-month growth. Reviews are gold.
But it’s not 2006. The algorithms will spot you miles away if you try to cheat. You can’t create 10 profiles and submit 10 top reviews on the same day, time and from the same IP address. You have to deliver value and then reap the harvest.
Win in the Review Economy.
You need a plan. There is no room for hoping and coincidences. Get familiar with things like automatic emails, net promoter score and personal touch.
Following the pressure of our failed product launch, we worked tirelessly to correct our errors and to make sure every single customer has a great experience with us. The result was a smooth process for what happens every time someone buys our product.
We ensure this by applying a large degree of automatization. When you buy an Airtame, a larger process is initiated:
- An email is sent confirming the purchase and letting you know the order is on its way.
- The next day, we send another email containing some tips on how to get started with your Airtame.
- One week after completing the purchase, you will get an email from Thomas Young, our onboarding manager, who asks if there is anything he can help with.
- If you reply to this email, it will go to our customer support team who can help make sure you get your Airtame set up the right way.
- Thirty days later, we send you a new email where we ask you on a scale from 1 to 10 how likely you are to recommend Airtame.
- If you rate us a 9 or 10, we ask you to review us on Amazon.
- If you rate us a 0-6, we begin the process again to make sure you’re happy with the product.
- And if you rate us a 7 or 8, we consider each individual case before deciding how to proceed.
That’s how we do it. All the automated emails may sound a bit impersonal, but as soon as you make the move to reach out, one of us will handle your case individually. This person is not allowed to let you go before you are satisfied. Creating value for our customers is that important for us.
You are only halfway done when you sell your product.
Whatever your line of work, every email, conversation, every haircut, every serving, every experience, every interaction you have with your customer is a chance to make a new friend. Never forget this. Always over-deliver.
If you are confident that you always do a good job, you should consider physically advertising for your customers to review you on the platform of your choice. You should also start training your employees to ask for this (smoothly).
You are only halfway done when you sell your product. You have to measure the value you create for your customer and then direct it toward a positive online reflection. Creating value is key and it is where you should start.