Are You Losing 5 Star Reviews to Hidden Customer Expectations?

Andrew McDermottCustomer Behavior, Customer Psychology, Customer Reviews, Local Marketing, Review Marketing0 Comments

Customer Expectations

Why won’t they do it?

Why won’t most customers write a review for your agency? How do you get reviews for your clients? It seems like getting customers to respond is an uphill battle.

You’ve under-promised and over delivered. Your customers are satisfied and very happy with the results you’ve provided.

So, why won’t they share the good news?

There’s a select few, a small group of customers, who seem eager to post reviews. But these customers are in the minority. Most can’t be bothered to write a review.

Reviews are easier to get in some industries


It’s far easier to get reviews in industries where relationships and personal, one-on-one interactions play a key role. Personal trainers, doctors, coffee shops, hair stylists – they all have an easier time getting reviews.

Which makes sense.

Customers are far more willing to leave a review because it helps the individual employee and the business. That’s great for your clients – if they’re in industries with relationships and lots of personal interaction.

What about industries where there’s little to no personal interaction? In legal, manufacturing, or skilled trades for example?

Are they out of luck?

Only if this key ingredient is missed


The vast majority of customers aren’t thinking about offering you a review. They’re preoccupied with their work and their life. So what does that have to do with you getting reviews for yourself or your clients?

Most of the time they’re completely unaware.

They don’t know what you want specifically and even if they did, they’re preoccupied with their own problems. But, even when they’re not distracted they need to be primed.

They need you to manage their expectations.

Customer expectations impact your ability to win customer reviews. These expectations also affect your overall conversion rate and positioning.

Customers come to you with expectations


That’s pretty normal. When we buy something we all have expectations. Here’s the problem.

Customers typically won’t tell you about these expectations. They simply assume you already know. It gets better.

In their mind, you’re responsible for these expectations. If you want a (good) review, and I assume you do, you’ll need to meet their expectations which you know nothing about.

Here’s the thing.

Most businesses do the same thing to their customers. It’s common for businesses to hope and pray that customers will love their product or service so much that they’re willing to post an incredible review and immediately share with everyone they know.

Admit it.

At one point you had a vague hope or expectation that this would happen to you.

Am I right?

Trouble is, if we don’t do a good job sharing our expectations (and asking for what we want) we probably won’t get it. If we don’t talk to our customers, we can’t flush out their expectations.

But where do you start?

You start with the structure of expectations


An important study defined the differences in customer expectations, specifically as it relates to professional services. These expectations are present on both sides of the agency/customer relationship. They’re also part of the B2C relationship.

Left unmanaged, these expectations ruin your chances of getting a review.

Fuzzy expectations


Customers expect something from you. They have this vague idea of what “it” looks like. This “it” factor will make them happy, motivating them to leave you a glowing review.

But they can’t seem to tell you what it is. It could be anything from a hidden fear, false belief or perception, or an idea floating in the back of their head.

  • It’s too hard
  • It takes too long
  • I don’t know what to say
  • I only have bad things to say

Customers often have a variation of these fuzzy expectations floating around in their head somewhere.

What about agencies?

  • I don’t really care if they write a review
  • They probably won’t write a review
  • I don’t want their review
  • I only have bad things to say

What about your client’s customers?

  • I don’t want to spend this much money on this
  • This product doesn’t do what I really want but I don’t know what I want specifically
  • I don’t know if this will work for me
  • I won’t write a review if it doesn’t give me the results I want

Fuzzy expectations are everywhere but, faulty as they are, they can’t be fixed until they’re exposed.

So that’s exactly what you do. You gently flush them out, bringing these expectations out into the open like this:

Hi Jan!

Working with you has been a pleasure. Obviously you’re one of our best customers. 😉 Would you be willing to answer a 6 question survey? Only takes 3 min.

It would really help us out.

Andrew

P.S. We want to hear it all, the good, the bad, the ugly. Feel free to be brutally honest.

Can you see what’s happening here?

We’ve crafted our request around our customer’s fuzzy expectations. They see the easy-to-miss details that answer their expectations before they’ve asked.

Implicit expectations


Implicit expectations are things we believe to be “obvious” or simply “common sense.” That’s the problem though. These unspoken implicit expectations are typically not common knowledge.

And there lies the problem.

These expectations aren’t explicit. They’re not obvious.

  • “You already know what you need to do to get a positive review from me.”
  • “I’ve already done this with other agencies so the process should be shorter, faster, easier, better.”
  • “Write out what you want me to say and I’ll post it wherever.”
  • “You know I’m not authorized to post a review on my company’s behalf.”

What does this look like with your client’s customers?

Tile created a bluetooth tracker to help you keep track of your stuff. Most customers who were unfamiliar with the industry or it’s technology, simply assumed Tile tracked everything regardless of distance. They made an implicit assumption about their product which led to thousands of disappointed and unsatisfied customers.

Customers believed their assumption was obvious, except that it wasn’t. And who did they hold responsible for their assumption? The seller.

Here’s what makes implicit expectations dangerous.

They become explicit when they’re violated or ignored. As soon as customers figure out you can’t read their minds and haven’t given them what they want, they’re angry. Their expectation is treated as if it were explicit from the very start.

Which means you’re much more likely to burn bridges and get a negative review.

Here’s how you find and reset expectations:

Hi Jan,

Quick question for you. Let’s say someone you’re working with asks you for a review. What would you expect from them or expect them to do first before you gave one?

You’re a thought leader at your company so I thought you’d be the best person to ask.

Appreciate you!

Andrew

When you use hypothetical scenarios as a way to ask for help, you create safety. You’re able to discuss the “obvious” and “commonsense” realities customers normally wouldn’t share.

Here’s the best part.

You decrease the risk of appearing incompetent or inept. You’re able to agree with the “obvious” truths customers share without judgment or condemnation.

Then, once you have the information you need, incorporate it into your request for reviews from future customers. Do it well and the conversion rates on your requests for reviews shoots up and to the right.

Unrealistic expectations


The automatic assumption with unrealistic requests is that they’re simply impossible. But that answer falls short of explaining what an unrealistic request actually is.
Here’s a better way to look at it.

An unrealistic expectation is any expectation you’re unable or unwilling to meet.

The tricky thing with unrealistic expectations is the fact that they can be fuzzy or precise, implicit or explicit. Your customer’s willingness to write a review could be dependent on things you (a.) aren’t aware of (b.) can’t do anything about or (c.) wouldn’t help them with even if you could.

Unrealistic expectations make it tough to get reviews out of customers, but it also makes it tough to keep your customers.

  • “I’ll only write a review if they 3x my conversion rate.”
  • “If my product isn’t here in one hour they’re getting a bad review.”
  • “You’ll do what I want if you want a good review or recommendation.”
  • “I want you to do something other than what you’ve promised. You didn’t, so I won’t give you a review.”

These unrealistic expectations lose their power when they’re exposed. Exposing expectations gives everyone, including your customer, the opportunity to assess the expectation.

Setting expectations with customers starts with…


Figuring out where their existing expectations come from. This may seem counterintuitive.

Finding the where tells you what to ask and how to address their expectations. This is important because there’s one important criteria you’ll need to keep in mind.

You don’t set a customer’s expectations. They do.

You can set expectations of your own, sure. But you’re reaching out to customers to get a review from them. You want something from them so their expectations play a much bigger role than yours. You’ll need to give them what they want to get what you want.

So, where do our expectations come from?

1.     Word-of-mouth: Positive and negative word-of-mouth conditions new customers. People with different ideas about your industry, business, product or service train new customers. They set the tone for your relationship, giving prospects ideas that may be true or false, right or wrong, positive or negative. Your customer onboarding process is the best way to deal with information that conflicts with your own. Getting customers on the same page changes expectations, improving your odds of getting that coveted 5-star review.

2.     Past experiences: Was your customer harassed for their review? Did they struggle to get through the review process? If your customer wrote a review for someone else and it ended up being a tedious and miserable experience, they bring that experience with them. These positive and negative experiences need to be managed. The tone you set at the beginning of the relationship determines how customers respond when you request a review near the middle or end of the relationship.

3.     Communication: Believe it or not, customers pay attention to what you say. They listen to your marketing and communication. What are you promising? What do they believe about your industry, business, product or service? In the early years, SEO was labeled by some as a scam. Many customers saw the value of SEO and were willing to pay for it, but weren’t willing to publicly review a product that was perceived negatively.

4.     Personal needs: Do customers need to feel taken care of? Are they looking for lots of handholding or do they simply want to hand their problems off to a trusted partner who takes care of it? The saying, “treating people the same isn’t equal treatment if the people aren’t the same,” carries a lot of weight. Customers come to you with different values and expectations. Serve them the way they need to be served and you increase the likelihood of getting a solid review.

Discussion is the key here. An open conversation during the pitch process or kickoff meetings can make all the difference. Discussing things with your client’s customers via target profile interviews exposes these troublesome expectations. With the right questions, you can change fuzzy expectations into precise expectations. Implicit to explicit.

Now you’re ready to set expectations.

If your customer arrives with unrealistic expectations based on a bad past experience, you can expose them to reality. You can tailor your response to their needs.

Then, when they’re ready, you can prime them for the review using their expectations like this.

Hi Jan,

When we first started working together you told me you were worried your experience would be the same like last time. That you wouldn’t see any results.

Would you be willing to share your feedback later on? I want to make sure we’re taking very good care of you.

Best,

Andrew

And, just like that your customer is primed. They know you’ll be asking for their feedback. They also know why you’re asking. You’re asking because it’s all about them. You’ve focused your time and attention on solving their problems.

So naturally, when the time comes, they’ll be ready to confirm you’ve done an amazing job.

What do you do when that time comes?

Easy.

You ask for feedback.

Then, once they’ve given you the feedback you’re looking for you write up a copy of their feedback, and you send it back to them asking if they’d be willing to share it as a review, like this.

Hi Jan,

Thanks so much for sharing your feedback on this. We’re happy you’re happy. I’m so glad things weren’t like last time for you.

Here’s a copy of your feedback.

[Their review transcript goes here] –

Would you be willing to share it as a review here?

[link to review site] –

If you’re willing to share it there it would really help others who are on the fence. No pressure or obligation, we think you’re amazing either way.

Stay awesome!

Andrew

This personal approach takes more time, but the response rates due to a customer’s changed expectations, are dramatically higher. That’s important because it gets more customers to share their feedback.

Should you ask every customer for a review?


Is that even a good idea?

Yes, but only on one condition.

You have the ability or the willingness to sort happy and unhappy customers in your review funnel ahead of time. Could be manually via an internal process or automatically with software (e.g. Grade.us). The point is, you’re able to sort happy and unhappy customers. Happy customers are directed to review sites; unhappy customers are redirected to an internal feedback form.

This gives you more control over the reviews you receive.

If you’re unable or unwilling to sort customers ahead of time it’s probably not a great idea to ask every customer you serve for a review.

Why?

Because these customers attract new customers who are often – Just. Like. Them.

If you’re dealing with a customer who doesn’t pay their bills on time, these customers write about it in their review. Got a difficult or abusive customer? That tone comes out in their review. Whatever customers put out on your behalf is what you attract.

So, choose wisely.

Focus your time and attention on the all-stars, the customers you’d fight hard to keep. Do what you can to serve your customers but focus on those you feel are worthy to represent you.

This doesn’t mean customers can’t write a review on their own. But these strategies give you a greater level of control over the types of customers your reviews attract.

Reviews are social proof, a way for customers to say, “these guys they’re good people; so rely on good people.”

Most customers won’t write a review


It’s an uphill battle when their expectations are in the way. You’re a rainmaker. You under deliver and over promise. It’s what you do. Your customers are satisfied and happy.

They’re willing share the good news, if you address their expectations.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get a steady stream of glowing, five star reviews? That possibility can become your reality – if start with expectations. Meet or modify customer expectations and you’ll find customers are eager to share the good news…

The good news about you.

About the Author

Andrew McDermott

Andrew McDermott is the co-founder of HooktoWin and the co-author of Hook: Why Websites Fail to Make Money. He shows entrepreneurs how to attract and win new customers.