We’ve all heard the adage, “The customer is always right”. In an era where consumers have more choice than ever, businesses are looking for any advantage to stand out from the crowd. That’s where customer reviews could become your secret weapon for success. They can give you valuable information on how people perceive everything from product quality and pricing, to customer service and shipping.
Customer reviews were once face to face encounters. Front line staff were either praised for your business’ products and service, or scolded for poor quality goods or a negative interaction. Reviews were still important learning tools, but word of mouth might only spread so far, and customers might eventually forget a poor experience.
But, with the rise of online shopping, customer reviews might be more important than ever—and can stick around forever. Not only does it give your customers more chance to provide your business with feedback, but positive customer reviews can be a fantastic marketing tool for the promotion and advocacy of your brand.
Why are reviews so important for businesses?
Customer reviews create a sense of trust and reliability for customers. One study found that almost 70% of consumers say that online reviews impact whether or not they purchase from a company. In a crowded marketplace, giving the customer a sense of security can be the deciding factor in a person choosing your business over another. If enough positive feedback is left, it creates credibility and social proof for potential customers.
Naturally, this could lead to increased sales for your business. If you are receiving a lot of positive feedback, you’re obviously doing something right. Your customers are likely bowled over by your products, service or both, and want to let everyone know! This can be great for business, leading to more positive reviews and in turn more sales—a great cycle to be in.
But customer reviews aren’t just a one-way street. While it’s important for you as a business to get good customer reviews to help sales, it’s just as important to take on all feedback to better understand how to give your customers the best experience possible, every time they shop.
Remember, even positive reviews could have some negative parts to them. If you’re always hearing good things about your website, but there is consistent feedback about shipping, use this an opportunity to reassess your shipping process or provider. If customers love your product, but think it should be blue instead of white, see this constructive criticism and a chance to refine your product. Even small adjustments could mean more success for your business.
What about negative reviews?
Negative reviews and how you handle them can be just as important for your business as positive ones. No matter how good your business is, there is always a chance that someone, somewhere won’t like what you’re offering. These consumers often feel more inclined to leave feedback than people who have a good experience, either warranted or unwarranted. But how you deal with these reviews can change the dynamic of the conversation.
Just as positive reviews can help your business build trust, so can negative reviews. This might sound odd, but think about it this way: Do you trust businesses that only have good reviews? Consumers are often wary, and perfect scores across the board may lead them to believe that your product or service is too good to be true. Negative reviews, if handled well, give your business credibility and a chance to learn from your mistakes.
A good rule of thumb is to always respond to negative customer reviews. An ignored review might lead potential customers to think you don’t care about them or their experience. In many cases, acknowledging the review is all that’s needed. Most consumers just want to be heard, especially if they feel they’ve had a negative experience.
If there’s a bigger issue to deal with, you may decide to take the conversation offline after acknowledging it. Nobody likes a slinging match, and taking the conversation out of the public eye can be a positive step in addressing the issue. Often, a one-on-one phone call or meeting with the customer not only shows that you value their feedback, but that you’re serious about fixing any problems they’ve had.
However, you’re also likely to receive negative reviews that are false, exaggerated or based on simple misunderstandings. It can be tempting to get defensive, but this can really backfire. Many negative reviews are from customers simply looking to voice their frustration. It’s fine to constructively correct any inaccuracies made in the review but refrain from attacking the reviewer or their opinion. Respond like a person—not a business—and you may be able to turn a negative into a positive.
Which review sites should my business use?
There are hundreds of review sites available where consumers can leave feedback for your business. A Google search could help you find all the places where you’re getting reviews, so you can take control of the business profiles and start responding.
You can also encourage customers to leave reviews on certain sites or platforms. This makes it easier to keep an eye on the reviews you receive.
One popular platform is Feefo, who only accepts reviews from verified customers. Some businesses find that sending customers to this type of site makes sense, as consumers are likely to get better information from people who actually purchased their product. For example, New Zealand life insurance company Momentum Life uses Feefo to give people a better picture of their application process and policies than they might get on other sites.
A site used by many local businesses is Yelp. Open review sites like this may make more sense for places like restaurants and bars, who are unlikely to collect customer contact information every time they visit. These sites can also help curious consumers find places to try in their area. An example is Baduzzi, an Auckland restaurant near the waterfront. Their Yelp profile includes lots of info on their menu, dress code and other amenities that may interest potential diners.
Go get those 5-star reviews!
As you can see, customer reviews are an essential element of running a successful business. While not every review you receive will be positive, the benefits for your business may be. Building trust and credibility with your current and future customers could go a long way towards creating a business that’s built to last.