Customer reviews are important in any retail sector. When a consumer wants a product, nine times out of 10, the first thing they will do is research it online and read the reviews about the item and the company selling it.
In the mobility market, which serves a traditionally more vulnerable consumer, reviews are everything and are essential in building trust with a would-be buyer. Without published customer feedback, businesses are greatly disadvantaged compared to their competitors and will undoubtedly lose out on sales as a result.
Most businesses in our industry will be well versed in harvesting and using customer reviews for marketing purposes but their role in a modern mobility retail outfit cannot be underestimated.
One business making its reviews a core part of its operations is Amorcare Mobility. Helen Askey, from the Stafford-based retailer, explains that online recommendations are more prevalent today and customers are more inclined to approach a company boasting excellent or good reviews.
Explaining the advantages of word-of-mouth marketing, Askey comments: “When our customers take the time to review Amorcare or a purchase they have made we appreciate this and anticipate that they will have discussed their experience with family and friends and thus spread their good experience further. As a potential customer, if you are reading that the mobility company offered you great knowledge, expertise and understanding of their business and products, treated you with understanding, compassion, respect and gave a helpful, friendly and unintimidating approach, they are likely to visit your store or contact you.”
It is important for Amorcare that potential customers do not have an experience where they are pushed into buying products that are not suitable for their needs or were offered something beyond their spending budget. Negative reviews like this can spread like wildfire and become a serious issue for businesses.
Askey believes that Amorcare’s reviews demonstrate the importance in the mobility industry to always treat customers with respect, compassion and an understanding of their particular needs. She feels that it is important for customers to leave a store having been fully informed and advised about the most suitable product and adds that Amorcare’s customers will “never feel pressured and should be completely satisfied that they were advised correctly”.
“If they haven’t purchased on the day we make sure they have left the store with the best information and knowledge to make a choice in the future and come back to the store. Providing our customers with our staff business cards enables them to speak to the member of staff who has dealt with their initial enquiry and hopefully continue a sales relationship with a more personal touch.”
The power of word-of-mouth
The sheer potential of word-of-mouth business is not lost on Askey and Amorcare’s management team. Personal recommendations are extremely valuable and people will always trust a friend of family member over a piece of marketing material. And the best thing about word-of-mouth marketing is that it is free. Askey views anyone currently using one of Amorcare’s mobility aids as an example and real life demonstrator of its products. A potential customer can see how the product actually benefits the person in real life situations and it gives a more realistic way of demonstrating the product, explains Askey.
“Many of our customers come into store saying they have seen a friend with a product and want one for themselves. They can immediately see the benefits it has given their friend or family member. We are already experiencing one-generation-to-another recommendations within families who regularly visit our stores.”
Askey says that the continued growth of care complexes and residential retirement villages demonstrates how word-of-mouth can be a key part of return and new sales for mobility businesses. A number of new care centres have opened near to both of Amorcare’s stores in recent years and it has found that the communities within quickly provide a wealth of word-of-mouth reviews.
One example, Askey describes, it a resident from a care complex in Stoke, called West End Village. The resident had some minor repair work done on his mobility scooter, which was collected, repaired and returned on the same day and who was pleased with the service Amorcare provided. Within a few weeks, the business had several residents from the same complex contacting it with requests to help with their mobility products. Now, Amorcare services and maintains over 30 mobility scooters and powerchairs on an annual basis, all because of one person who used the company and was happy with the service they received.
Askey continues: “As a company, we have been invited to many of these care venues to demonstrate our products and the invites have arisen through an initial purchase and a resident promoting our services. These initial visits have led to many future sales for our company and have built up some great relationships with our customers and become a part of their ongoing healthcare. Residents quickly associate with mobility products that will enable them to interact with their new friends and also enable them to have trips out and fully immerse themselves in their new community.”
How to ensure top customer reviews
You cannot simply expect excellent customer reviews to start rolling in once you include the option on your website. They have to be genuine and that means that your customer service has to be consistent and impeccable. A good place to start, according to Askey, is to treat all customers the same. She says that compassion, kindness, and understanding particular needs are “paramount”. Importantly, sales must never be pushy and customer should always leave the store feeling that they have been advised correctly and had a pleasant shopping experience.
A lot of our customers, Askey says, may need time to make a decision and it is important to allow them the time to make their own decision. ‘Having a look over the leaflets and brochures over a cup of tea’ is a common comment made by Amorcare’s customers. This ‘downtime’ allows them to consider the right choice for them and discuss the purchase with family. More often than not the customer will return to make the purchase or to ask more questions and confirm their choice is the right one.
Askey says that for Amorcare, ensuring a shining customer review means focusing on face-to-face selling with an emphasis on care and understanding. This delivers greater benefits for local communities and helps to build strong relationships with customers, who continue to visit its stores for many years.
“Of course, not all visitors at our stores are looking to purchase as they may be looking for some advice for the future or on the behalf of a family member or friend. Amorcare staff pride themselves on being as helpful and informative as possible. After all, these may be our future customers and if we have helped them on that day, even in a small way, that good experience will remain with them going forward.”
What to do with the bad reviews?
A bad review or a negative comment on social media, whether it is justified or not, can do a lot of damage to a business’s reputation. They are however, a real threat that retailers must face up to and deal with. Left unchecked, word-of-mouth is just as effective at spreading negative reviews as it is positive.
Naturally, Amorcare does not want to see any bad reviews as it can obviously lead to a loss of sales and trustworthiness can be lost. In the growing world of online, more and more people read reviews and seeing something negative can turn a customer away from visiting a store. However, Askey explains that bad reviews can be turned around to have a positive impact on business.
“We will always try to reply to negative reviews and hopefully address the issue for that customer and try to provide a more positive outcome for the situation. If potential customers see that you are offering to alleviate the negative experience this will encourage them to see that at Amorcare we always put our customer satisfaction first. Obviously this will always depend on the individual situation.”
It can be tricky ensuring each and every customer has a consistent and positive experience with your business. But remember that every time you deal with a client that their experience with you could result in 10 sales gained or lost. Online reviews mean that more than ever retailers have to be perform sharply at all times. And even then, you cannot control what is posted on the internet and on social media. Put simply, enjoy and harness the good reviews but do not let the bad ones get your business down. Deal with them quickly and where possible, turn them into a positive for your company.