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Why Online Customer Reviews Are Still Important For Businesses

30 January 2019 | 0 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in nichemarket Advice

Customer reviews are important

In the world of digital marketing, we're continually expanding ways of selling and promoting products and services from search engine marketing, social media marketing, email marketing and more. These disciplines and the tools that make these marketing channels work are powerful, but from personal experience, none of these tools has the conversion rate of word of mouth. 

To this point, no digital marketing channel exists today that can compete with the power of recommendation from a family member or a friend. While word of mouth may be powerful the problem is a business has no control over it; it is very little by way of influencing word of mouth without tainting the experience and the authenticity of the messaging. 

The closest thing businesses have to harness this word of mouth influence is via customer reviews, if you've dealt with reviews especially at a scale you will know this is a task that is easier said than done.

A missing piece in your marketing 

Reviews for many businesses is often a hit and miss with not many marketers and business owners evaluating the science behind the practice; they merely look at it as a nice to have, when it is anything but. Customer feedback is essential to the survival of a business; it helps you get into the mind of your customer and improve your service. 

Reviews, however, don't just need to be an evaluation tool but it can be curated and used as powerful marketing messaging that can win you new business more accessible and faster than before. 

The problem with the review process

We're all guilty of confirmation bias at some point or other simply taking on our two reviews as fact and not genuinely evaluating the overall sentiments about a particular business.

Example: You would search for a restaurant you haven't tried, and you would see the first few reviews are bad, and you would automatically assume the place is terrible and that you're going to receive terrible service or have a bad overall experience. You don't take into consideration the person writing the review nor their motivations. 

Positive reviews are naturally what you're aiming for but its more about the quality and the number of reviews that matter. Since negative reviews often carry a lot more weight when there are few reviews available.

Customers who provide reviews come in 3 types

  • A customer who receives exceptional service that surpasses expectations (Very rare)
  • A customer who was asked, encouraged or offered an incentive to do so (Up to your business efforts)
  • A customer who had a bad experience (The majority of users who provide reviews)

All 3 make up a tiny percentage of customers who make use of goods and services on a daily basis.

The reviews are in

A new study on brand feedback reveals just how minor the vocal minority is. Research from Apptentive finds that most brands hear from less than 1% of their customers. Customers rarely leave feedback in any form shape or form; it's not a user behaviour that brands have yet to enforce this practice and make it a natural post-purchase action.

Taking the time to review business is often seen as an activity that is competed begrudgingly as so many business feedback processes are clunky and time-consuming.

As a result of brands not being proactive in their efforts to gather feedback in non-intrusive ways, they only end up hearing from their smallest and most vocal group of customers.

The small sample of data leaves significant room for misinterpretations as brands believe they’re building solutions based on feedback from a majority of customers, they’re often mistaken — the study from Apptentive groups the vocal minority into two categories:

  • At risk: These are one-time customers who have been triggered to leave feedback based on a bad experience.
  • VIPs: These are loyal customers who actively engage with business and regularly purchase goods or services. 

There is much to learn from both groups within the vocal minority, the study says, but remember they still make up less than 1% of the customer base. The majority of a brand’s customer base, roughly 99%, fall into the category of “the silent majority.”

How to extract feedback from the Silent Majority

The research by Apptentive shows that 51% of consumers expect companies to ask them for input across the following channels:

  • Email
  • Phone
  • In-store
  • Online
  • In-app

While around 64% of customers would prefer to provide in-app feedback. In fact, as 98% of respondents said they would likely give in-app feedback when asked. Which shows that customers are willing to provide feedback if requested and if you can make it easier for them. The business that takes advantage extracting reviews from the silent majority waiting to be asked will have a competitive advantage over others who do not.

How to take control of your reviews

Depending on your business you will need to make sure you can collect reviews on your website or have a presence on review sites like nichemarket, Tripadvisor, Zomato, Yelp or whichever applies to your niche, you can also take advantage of Facebook's review offering. 

  • Update your post-purchase email 
  • Collect email addresses and mail a week later
  • Have an in-app prompt
  • Place it on physical material like invoices or price lists
  • Call up clients

Inform your clients that you would like them to review your business and offer them the various options available they can use to review your business. Users will pick their preferred option, and it will ensure you have a range of different reviews across multiple sites which will build your online reputation. 

Customers who use that specific site like nicheseekers or Facebook users can then check out your listing and reviews and have the option of visiting your site to check out more curated reviews.

Give your potential customers a full view

No business is perfect, and no service will ever be completely flawless, so you're bound to get a negative review from time to time. If you can salvage the situation and win over the client once again, by all means, go for it, but if you can't, it's not the end of the world. Some consumers will not be satisfied and may prefer to be vindictive than try to reconcile.

What you need to do as a business owner is almost drown it out with a mix of positive and pragmatic reviews that are authentic. These reviews give potential clients the opportunity to get a full view of your business, from the minds of detractors, promoters and those who are merely indifferent or impartial to your service. 

This level of well-rounded feedback provides a sense of authenticity and promotes confidence in your brand. 

Share your story

Have you been struggling to get customer feedback or reviews for your business? Share your stories or tips with us in the comments. We would love to hear from you.

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Recommended reading

If you found this post helpful and have a few more minutes to spare, then head deeper down the rabbit hole with the following articles:

Tags: customer feedback, crm , orm

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