In today’s market, businesses increasingly shift to digital platforms as more of their customers prefer to do business online. According to a 2020 global study, for example, e-commerce sales accounted for 18% of all retail sales worldwide, and this number is expected to rise, especially in the wake of the pandemic and the way it changed consumer behavior.
Because they’re making their purchases online, consumers need to find other ways to build trust with the businesses they buy from. Customers prioritize trust when making purchasing decisions, with 80% of 1,000 respondents in a 2021 Harvard Business Review survey citing it as a crucial factor. But how can businesses establish their worth? The answer lies in customer feedback and reviews.
According to Globe News Wire, 95% of buyers check reviews before making a purchase. This figure highlights the importance of customer feedback and reviews for businesses. With that said, marketing teams must leverage these valuable insights to create meaningful customer experiences and stay ahead of the competition.
The Proven Benefits of Customer Feedback and Reviews
Customer feedback and reviews are powerful tools to help businesses gain an edge over their competitors. Here are some benefits of leveraging these valuable customer insights:
Improved Customer Experience
By gathering customer feedback, businesses can identify pain points and areas for improvement. It allows them to make necessary changes and provide a better experience for their customers. For instance, if customers have difficulty navigating the website, businesses can use this feedback to re-design the user interface and make necessary improvements. By doing so, they can deliver a more efficient and enjoyable experience.
Increased Customer Loyalty
When businesses listen to and act on customer feedback, it shows that they value their customer’s opinions and are committed to providing the best possible experience. It can lead to increased customer loyalty and repeat business.
This retention of your customers is essential for any business to succeed. As the cost to acquire new customers is 5 times the cost to retain existing ones, any kind of growth for businesses hinges on customer retention and minimizing churn.
Happy customers, in addition, are more likely to share their positive experiences and recommend the company to friends and family, and leave positive reviews online.
Higher Conversion Rates
According to a study by Reevoo, products with reviews have an 18% higher sales rate than those without. That is because reviews provide social proof and help customers make more informed purchasing decisions. Without reviews, customers may be more hesitant to trust a business and make a purchase.
Many companies have successfully leveraged customer feedback and reviews to drive growth. For example, Amazon is known for its customer reviews, which have helped it become the largest online retailer in the world. Another example is Airbnb, which has built its entire business model around customer reviews, by allowing guests to rate their hosts and vice versa, Airbnb has created a culture of trust and transparency, leading to its massive success.
How to Collect Customer Feedback and Reviews
Aside from understanding the benefits of customer feedback and reviews, businesses must also know how to collect these insights. Here are some practical ways to gather customer feedback:
- Surveys: Surveys are a popular way to gather customer feedback. They can be emailed, embedded on a website, or posted on social media. Surveys can be tailored to specific products, services, or experiences. They can provide valuable insights into customer preferences, satisfaction levels, and pain points.
- Reviews on Third-Party Websites: Third-party review websites, such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Reviews, are platforms where customers can leave reviews about their experiences with a business. These reviews can provide social proof and help attract new customers.
- Social Media Monitoring: Monitoring social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can provide valuable insights into customer opinions and feedback. Businesses can use social media listening tools to track mentions, comments, and direct messages and respond to real-time customer feedback.
- Personalized Messages: Once a customer has purchased a product or service, businesses can send them personalized emails to get their feedback. It helps build personal relationships and makes customers feel valued. Especially today, when customers are looking for personalized experiences, this approach can go a long way.
Google reviews are especially important because these factor heavily in Google’s algorithm when it decides to rank one business over another. As the searvch platform places a premium on providing positive user experiences for searchers, reviews on Google can provide that extra advantage to rank and increase your digital footprint.
But no matter how many feedback strategies businesses employ, it is essential to remember that not all customers want to provide feedback. Encouraging customers to leave their comments and reviews can be challenging, but here are some tips that can help:
- Make it easy: Provide a clear, easy-to-use feedback form or review platform. Customers are more likely to leave feedback when the process is straightforward. Avoid asking for too much information, which might discourage them from completing the feedback form.
More businesses are tuning to QR codes to make leaving reviews easier for customers on their smartphones. There are many free QR code generators out there, and if you can create codes for a link to your Google Business profile or Yelp, it can encourage more reviews. You can also create QR codes with the Share settings on Android and iOS
- Don’t actively incentivize: Don’t offer incentives such as discounts, freebies, or exclusive content to customers who leave positive feedback or reviews. While this can encourage more participation and provide better ratings, it’s also against Google’s review policies as it can be a way to game the system.
However, you can encourage reviews by providing a positive user experience and community-building. Happy customers are usually amenable to leaving a positive review, especially if you make it easy to do so. Leverage your social media presence to get your customers to engage with your brand and leave reviews.
- Follow-up: Follow up with customers after their experience to request feedback. It shows that the business values their opinion and is committed to improving the customer experience. You can send automated emails, SMS messages, or even a postcard. Be careful not to annoy customers with too many follow-ups, though. Keeping it to one or two reminders is enough.
How to Analyze Customer Feedback and Reviews
Collecting customer feedback and reviews is only the first step. To make the most of this data, businesses must analyze it to identify areas for improvement and track performance. Here are some tips for analyzing customer feedback and reviews:
Sentiment analysis is the process of analyzing the emotional tone of customer feedback and reviews. It can help businesses understand customers’ feelings about their products or services and identify improvement areas. There are tools available that can perform sentiment analysis automatically, or businesses can manually categorize feedback based on tone. Depending on the size of the business, one approach may be better than the other.
Google Business profile offers its users free analytics to review data on how searchers interact with their brand, including sentiment analysis from reviews. This is a free, powerful that can help you get an idea of how customers perceive your brand.
SEOReseller also has tools that provide analysis on your reviews while also collating all your reviews across multiple platforms (Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc) and multiple locations. This is especially useful for making the monitoring of reviews much easier if your business has several locations. This is included in our Prime-level local SEO package.
Track Performance Over Time
By tracking performance over time, businesses can identify trends and patterns that can help them make informed decisions about improving the customer experience.
One way to track performance over time is to establish a baseline for customer feedback and reviews. This baseline can be established by analyzing data from a particular period, such as the previous quarter or year, and using it as a benchmark for comparison, whether it’s month-on-month, or quarter-on-quarter.
Once a baseline has been established, businesses can track customer feedback and review changes over time. For example, they can look for trends such as an increase or decrease in positive or negative reviews, changes in the types of issues customers are reporting, or changes in the sentiment of customer feedback.
How to Use Customer Feedback and Reviews to Improve Your Business
Using customer feedback and reviews to improve a business is crucial in building customer loyalty and driving growth. Businesses can make meaningful improvements that drive positive results by taking action on customer feedback. Here are some tips for using customer feedback and reviews to improve your business:
Consider All Feedback
It is important for businesses to approach all kinds of feedback with an open mind and consider them as opportunities for improvement. Negative feedback may be difficult to receive, but it can be particularly valuable in identifying areas of weakness and improvement. Instead of dismissing negative feedback or becoming defensive, businesses should take the time to listen to their customers’ concerns and try to understand the root cause of the issue.
Google also takes into account how ofter businesses respond to reviews, and focus particularly on negative reviews. If you respond to all reviews, especially negative ones, this is a sign to Google and other potential customers that your business takes customer satisfaction seriously, which can result not just in driving more conversion, but also to Google rankings for local searches.
Positive feedback can also provide valuable insights into what customers appreciate about a business’s products or services. By understanding what customers value, businesses can build on these strengths and continue to deliver high-quality experiences.
Involve the Right People
To ensure customer feedback is addressed, it’s important to involve the right people in the process. For example, customer service teams can be responsible for responding to customer concerns and complaints, while product teams can work on making necessary changes based on customer feedback.
Effective communication of the findings from customer feedback and reviews is crucial to ensuring that the insights are leveraged to drive continuous improvement. Once the feedback has been analyzed, it’s essential to communicate the findings and insights to relevant departments within the organization. It could include the product development team, marketing team, customer support team, and executive leadership.
Communicating customer feedback and reviews across the organization also helps to foster a customer-centric culture within the business. It encourages everyone in the organization to prioritize the needs and wants of customers and focus on delivering the best possible customer experience.
Measure the Impact
Finally, businesses should measure the impact their efforts are having on customer feedback and reviews. By tracking changes over time, they can identify if their initiatives are making a difference in customer satisfaction levels and driving growth for the business.
Tracking your results is easily done on Google’s Business Profile platform, where you can get free analytics that measure things like how many people looked at your business profile, how many ended up calling you, visiting your site, or setting their Google Maps to help them navigate to your place of business. These are all important metrics tht can show any progress that you’ve made in attracting customers.
There are many examples of companies that have successfully used customer feedback and reviews to make meaningful improvements. For example, Airbnb used customer feedback to improve their search functionality, resulting in a 30% increase in bookings. Similarly, Zappos used customer feedback to create a more personalized shopping experience, resulting in increased customer loyalty and repeat business.
How to Respond to Customer Feedback and Reviews?
Responding to customer feedback and reviews is an essential aspect of building and maintaining customer relationships. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, responding to it in a timely and effective manner can have a significant impact on customer perception of the business. Here are some tips for responding to customer feedback and reviews:
When it comes to responding to customer feedback and reviews, time is of the essence. Customers appreciate a quick response as it shows that their opinion matters and that the business is committed to addressing their concerns. A prompt response also helps to prevent the issue from escalating and shows potential customers that the business is responsive and proactive.
As a best practice, it’s essential to acknowledge feedback within 24-48 hours, even if it is just to thank the customer for their review. This acknowledgment can be a simple “thank you for your feedback” message, which can go a long way in building customer trust and loyalty.
For negative reviews, responding promptly is crucial to prevent the customer from feeling ignored or neglected. Responding to negative reviews within 24 hours is ideal as it shows that the business is taking the issue seriously and is willing to work with the customer to resolve the issue. It can also turn a negative experience into a positive one and potentially win back the customer’s loyalty.
Be Professional and Courteous
Customers expect a professional and courteous response when they leave feedback or reviews, whether positive or negative. It’s important to respond with a calm and empathetic tone, acknowledging their concerns and offering a solution or next steps. Being defensive or confrontational can escalate the situation and potentially damage the business’s reputation.
For negative reviews, it’s important to apologize for the customer’s negative experience, even if it was not the business’s fault. Offering a genuine apology shows that the business values the customer’s feedback and is committed to making things right. It also encourages the customer to continue doing business with the company and potentially refer others to the business.
Personalize the Response
Personalizing the response can go a long way in building a strong relationship with the customer. It shows that the business values them as an individual and not just another sale. Use the customer’s name in the response to make it more personal and show that you are addressing them specifically. Additionally, referencing specific details from their feedback or review can demonstrate that the business actively listens and takes their concerns seriously.
For example, if a customer mentions a specific issue they had with a product, the business can acknowledge the issue and provide a personalized solution. This shows that the business is committed to addressing customer needs and ensuring satisfaction. By taking the time to personalize the response, the business can create a positive and lasting impression on the customer, increasing the likelihood of repeat business and positive word-of-mouth.
Offer Solutions or Next Steps
Offering a solution or next steps to address the customer’s concern can help to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Provide clear and actionable steps that the customer can take or the business will take to address the issue. This can help to restore the customer’s confidence in the business.
Additionally, businesses can also take the opportunity to showcase their commitment to customer satisfaction by offering incentives such as discounts, refunds, or free products/services to compensate for the negative experience. This gesture helps resolve the issue at hand and demonstrates the business’s willingness to go above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction.
Best Practices for Leveraging Customer Feedback and Reviews
To make the most of customer feedback and reviews, businesses must develop a process for leveraging this data to drive meaningful changes. Proactively gathering customer feedback and responding promptly can ensure customers feel valued. Here are some best practices for leveraging customer feedback and reviews:
Collect Feedback Regularly
Regularly collecting customer feedback is essential for understanding customers’ needs and preferences. Feedback may change, so keeping up with the latest trends and customer expectations is important. Doing so can help businesses follow the flow and stay ahead of their competitors.
Dedicate a Team
Dedicating a team or individuals to manage customer feedback and reviews is important for ensuring customer concerns are addressed on time. Having a dedicated team also ensures that customer feedback is taken seriously and given the attention it deserves. Doing so can help businesses create better customer experiences and maintain a competitive edge.
Use Feedback to Improve Products and Services
Using customer feedback to improve products or services is a great way to show customers that their opinion matters. Consider incorporating customer feedback into product development processes, such as conducting focus groups or user testing with new features. By implementing these best practices, businesses can better understand customers and make meaningful improvements that drive growth.
Customer feedback and reviews are invaluable to a business’s performance, competitive landscape, and customer experience. By analyzing and acting on this data, businesses can make informed decisions about improving their products or services, track performance over time, and ultimately drive growth. With the right tools and processes, businesses can maximize their success with customer feedback in 2023. So, make sure to start taking advantage of these insights now so you can be ahead of the curve!