Customer reviews and word of mouth
As provided by the sales and marketing report, 9 out of 10 companies that incorporate customer reviews in their strategy believe that their significance has, on the whole, grown in recent years. Statistics reveal that 95% of consumers will consult online reviews on a product before committing to making a purchase.
The number one influencer of purchasing decisions is word of mouth, through recommendations or peer opinions shared in person or on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. It’s for this reason that consumer reviews have such a prominent role in the decision-making process.
This is why people, rather than simply type a product name into a search engine and find pages of promoted content, now tend to research products and brands via online review websites such as PissedConsumer.com, where regular consumers share honest opinions about a company, product, and service. Accounts on such sites are, of course, trusted far more than testimonials on a brand’s own website, for example.
Incorporating customer feedback in future strategy
Much useful information can be gleaned from customer reviews. Lessons and insights from consideration of customer feedback can be applied to tidy up your operation and inform strategy going forward.
Reviews will help you identify your main strengths. Make sure you really understand what the market sees as your positives and build on them. If something is working very well, be wary that any significant change may lead to a backlash from previously contended customers.
On the flip side, even overall positive reviews can shine a light on areas that need attention, certain facets of your business that may be lacking. This presents you with an opportunity to address a multitude of seemingly small issues to tidy up the running of your business.
Not every action has to be reactive, so don’t just spring to life when major problems rear their head in public. Little improvements across the board, to service delivery, customer service, etc. can make a world of difference.
Particularly if you operate in a competitive market, reviews can give you a good idea of what your competitors are up to, what they are doing well, and what people are slating them for. Use this info to determine how and why you may be losing market share.
Improving sales with a positive customer relationship
First and foremost, if you haven’t already, you absolutely must ensure you are getting the reviews. Without a presence on review sites, many consumers won’t even consider you. While the risk of negative reviews is real, the negative effect of staying incognito is considerably greater. If you don’t open yourself up to criticism, you must have something to hide, right?
Every customer facing business needs an efficient means of engaging with online reviews. How you acknowledge and respond to customers on review platforms makes a huge impression on browsers and potential customers, hence this area should be managed with an active, knowledgeable social media team.
Keep your cool
While active and direct engagement on social media and public platforms is key, you must never escalate any situation in a way that may lead to public confrontation. When dealing with customer complaints, always be polite, concise, and positive. If the matter is sensitive or has the potential to be volatile, provide the customer with direct contact via messenger, email, or phone. Train your staff in de-escalation techniques and prepare them for difficult encounters with emotional individuals.
Throughout, your staff needs to be informing your customers that their comments and feedback are wanted, and helpful. Understandings arrived at through engaging with customer feedback can then be used to inform changes and improvements to your processes.
Always respond as promptly as possible to inquiries and reviews that allow it. A concise, personalized way of addressing negative feedback is paramount, a robotic, copy and paste message simply won’t do, and will be guaranteed to make a bad situation worse.
An individualized, considered response will show that you have a courteous, attentive, and helpful attitude towards your customers, and make a positive impression on those potential customers at the review-checking stage of the purchase process.
Create a sense of community
Develop a relationship with your customer base by maintaining a dialogue with those who post positive feedback. Doing so is a way of showing that you value their input and custom and that you aren’t simply active in public spaces as a form of damage control.
Communicate your company story through blog posts or articles on your website and social media. Highlight the ups and downs on an individual level to give your company a human face and provide relatable content.
Listen to your customers
Reviews play a major role in public perception of your brand and are also an excellent way of expanding your market and establishing confidence in your company. Most useful, however, is the insight that reviews give into your customers’ wants and needs.
Such an important aspect of effective marketing absolutely has to be leveraged to ensure the greatest possible impact, so be visible, be transparent, and engage!