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How to Turn a Reviewer Into a Forever Customer Fostering loyalty increases the likelihood of long-term growth and sustainability.

By Chris Campbell Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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A review, regardless of the tone, is an implied invitation for engagement. It is up to you as a business leader to point the engagement in the right direction. What you say, how, when you say it, and the type of follow-up and follow-through has the power of converting each review into an opportunity for increased customer loyalty, based on a deeper emotional connection or a well-earned second chance to bridge the gap between customers' expectations and their actual experience.

Review management throughout the relationship.

What you do with your review profiles sets the stage for success or failure. Your responses, the opinions expressed by other customers, and even the voice and tone of your profile will influence how new reviewers and potential shoppers engage with your brand. Approach your review-management strategy in a holistic way that does not let any aspect of your reputation go amiss. Turning every reviewer into a forever customer begins with making sure you are managing every stage of your reputation.

Related: 3 Ways to Increase Customer Loyalty

Reduce churn rate and trigger loyalty.

When you communicate with your customers in a way that puts the spotlight fully on them and shows just how much you value their business, you have won the biggest battle. Every person wants to feel important, relevant, and heard. If there is one thing you can do to reduce your customer churn rate, this is it. Make every engagement, from review responses to forum interactions, proactive, caring, and customer-focused.

Take all feedback at face value.

Your reviewer took the time to give you his or her assessment of your venue; go to the bank with it. One of the most influential behaviors you can have in association with your customer service lifecycle is to use the feedback you receive to create a customer experience that is finely tuned to meet or exceed customer expectations. There is no better affirmation of your commitment to the customer than letting them know that their feedback is making your business better, one review at a time.

Real-time responses matter more than ever.

There is nothing that says to your reviewers that you care about them and their patronage more than having processes in place to ensure your responses are timely. 24/7 automated monitoring of third-party review websites is essential in this day and age, where customers expect brands to have the technologies in place for immediate engagement and prompt resolution of escalations and complaints. Quickly responding to customers' concerns voiced via review websites can transform a rant into a rave, and convert an anemic relationship into one of advocacy.

Related: The Future of Customer Loyalty

Find common ground.

If you want to win a customer forever, then make every effort to find common ground with him or her. Your response should not be a one-size-fits-all script that is quickly copied, with the only goal of giving a response. Take advantage of each review, and see it as an opportunity to connect with the reviewer by truly reading what he or she is saying, acknowledging the feedback and, when possible and relevant, finding common ground between you and the reviewer. Did the reviewer mention how much he or she loved your new cocktail made with pomegranate juice? Let him or her know how much you truly love pomegranate juice, and how you are producing your own by using the pomegranates from your mini urban farm. Did the review have negative connotations about parking in your neighborhood? Tell him or her how you are fully aware and suffering alongside while you work with the local chamber of commerce to make improvements. Customers who have a sense of affinity with a business and its representatives are more likely to do repeat business and recommend the business to their friends and family.

Invite the customer to join you again.

This may sound obvious, but way too many businesses are missing out on the opportunity to invite their reviewers to join them again, in a way that is appealing, informative, and truly persuasive. If your customer took the time to review your housekeeping services and he or she is not yet a regular, then why not include a direct request or invitation in your review response? Your request could potentially be informational in nature, making the reviewer aware of the different cleaning programs offered by your company, or pointing him or her to discount plans for long-term engagement. If you want a one-time reviewer to be your forever customer, then why not resort to the obvious approach and ask for the sale?

Related: 6 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty

Be sincerely grateful.

Please don't take your reviewer for granted. He or she is not obligated to give you the thumbs up, and it is thanks to his or her kudos that you will be able to capture a bigger wallet share for your segment. Make your responses to positive reviews lively, personal, personable, and sincere. Let your customers know how truly impactful their words are, in light of how reviews impact your ability to amplify your brand and secure more customers. Sincerity and gratitude will take you far. Nobody likes to engage with a business that is distant, uncaring, and too busy to make each customer feel valued and appreciated.

Maximize your review-request email lists.

Review websites like TripAdvisor and others encourage businesses to request candid reviews using their review-request tools. If you are already collecting emails in order to be able to request feedback, then why not leverage your list by scrubbing it against the reviews you do capture? Select the best reviewers as potential recipients of promos, offers, and other email-based collateral aimed at encouraging repeat visits.

Fostering a forever customer is a great way to leverage your reviews. By doing so, you reduce marketing spend and increase the likelihood of long-term growth and sustainability.

Chris Campbell

CEO of ReviewTrackers

Chris Campbell is the CEO of ReviewTrackers.

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