This week we feature an article by Michelle Nickolaisen about customer review programs. Accept that you may be reviewed by the customer. But, even if you’re not going to be reviewed, perform as if you are. – Shep Hyken
If your customer service and success teams are anything like the average customer-focused team, you are always looking for ways to show your ROI to leadership and other departments, and working on initiatives to increase that ROI. Because your team holds the keys to customer relationships, you do have a unique opportunity to enable marketing and sales.
What’s one way your team can use input from your customers to build trust with future buyers, and help drive more interest and revenue for the company? A review program.
Of course, you might already have testimonials and case studies on your site, so you probably don’t need a customer review program. Right? Wrong. The data-based insights from our 2018 B2B Buying Disconnect report will show you why:
Buyers don’t trust vendors
On average, buyers use about five sources of information to make their purchasing decisions. Those resources are:
- Product demos
- User reviews
- Vendor websites
- Free trials
- Vendor representatives
But, according to buyers, the vendor’s websites and representatives are less trustworthy and less influential than other sources. Potential customers want to get a complete picture of the product before purchasing and are often skeptical that a vendor’s website can provide that complete picture. In particular, buyers are looking for hands-on insights into adoption and scalability, which is where input from customers and third-parties comes in.
This is a problem for vendors. Our data showed that out of the areas that vendors tend to focus on (namely, website, marketing collateral, case studies, blog, and product demos), only product demos are found reliably trustworthy by buyers, with 81% saying they’re more trustworthy.
There are a few specific things that vendors can do to counteract this. To understand what vendors can do, we looked at the 23% of vendors that buyers said were “very influential” in helping them choose their product, and inspected how they interact with their buyers differently than the majority of vendors. The key differences were:
- Transparency during the sales process, including being entirely up-front about product limitations
- Providing buyers with additional learning opportunities (via connecting them with customer references, helping them create an adoption approach, and providing them with customer evidence)
- Buyers perceived their representatives as more trustworthy (which circles back to point #1 about transparency — a point the surveyed buyers often underlined with their additional comments)
Last but not least, the vendors that were influential in the sales process connected buyers with customer perspectives more frequently. Which works, because…
Buyers do trust their peers
While there are tweaks you can make to your product approach that will create more trust with potential buyers, there’s also a huge resource you’re sitting on already: your existing customers. In Demand Gen Report’s 2017 B2B Buyers Survey, 84% of buyers said they seek input from peers or existing users and 67% said reviews were a very important consideration in the buying process. If you combine that with the fact that most buyers are satisfied with their purchases (our 2018 data showed 42% were promoters by NPS definitions, and 90% intended to renew their contracts), you start to see how your existing customers can be used to help build credibility with potential customers.
The problem is that many of the options for involving your customers can be time-consuming or ineffective. Customer references are difficult to manage, and case studies are found to be less effective than customer references and difficult to manage.
Michelle Nickolaisen is a freelance writer for TrustRadius, most trusted review site for business technology, serving both buyers and vendors.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: 57% Of Sales Reps Missed Their Quotas Last Year