How to Turn Online Reviews Into Better Customer Experience
It turns out that listening to our customers matters, and not just for the reasons you may think.
Sure. Over 50% of consumers judge businesses based on online reviews and others’ experiences. People. Read. Reviews. We get it. They also decide what they’re going to buy based on reviews. This salon got 4.5 stars and this one got 4 stars. We all know how that story ends.
First, how can you manage your online reputation?
Focus on long term and meaningful change to your business.
If you’ve ever sat down to look at the reviews your business collects in a given week, you know a few things about pride and humility… and how quickly one can give way to the other in the blink of an eye.
Although all reviews should be addressed and responded to, some reviews are more important in this regard than others.
And, while both positive and negative reviews can be a highly powerful tool for motivating staff, your focus should be how you can translate that feedback into long term and meaningful change to your business. Think of getting online reviews as an endless supply of focus testers and you get to be the moderator.
How do you actually do this?
Try these exercises. Divide your online reviews into four categories:
- Negative online reviews that you can’t easily affect change to fix. Perhaps your restaurant has only a few parking spaces and city restrictions prevent you from doing much outside of saying, “Sorry!” You should definitely answer these with the same degree of care and empathy that you do your more positive customers, but understand that you can’t readily solve the problem.
- Positive online reviews for things you didn’t do yourself. If someone leaves a generally positive review, but it doesn’t impact anything you have done purposefully, you should absolutely thank the customer for their good review, but you ultimately cannot affect change as a result of their feedback. For example, ample parking could be a point of positive feedback in situations like this.
- Negative online reviews that you should address. This is the obvious category that most people think of when they think of how a business might improve from studying its reviews. Food is cold. Help was rude. Hold time was too long. Phone rep didn’t speak adequate English.With these types of reviews, you can create a better customer experience after taking their feedback into account. The best part is that you can respond to their review and update them about how policies and goals change as a result of their feedback – and invite them back into your location!
- Positive online reviews that you should pay attention to. Whenever a positive online review comes through, it’s easy to feel a sense of satisfaction and leave it at that. After all, the goal was reached, wasn’t it? Well, we’re telling you that positive online reviews are something you should pay close attention to when possible. Aside from the type of passive positive review listed in point #2, positive online reviews that actually commend you on one process or another can help show you where your strengths, and your weaknesses, are.
Right away, it’s obvious that the first two types of online reviews should be reviewed, but ultimately not a lot of time needs to be dedicated to them. At least for now. You probably can’t easily change your parking situation, so we want to focus on the things that you can change, add, and improve!
Online Reviews can Shape your Business in Profound Ways.
The third type of online reviews (the negative one) is where everyone that is serious about reviews spends 90% of their time. But that’s because they’re not focused on making the business run better. They’re typically focused on getting customers to believe the business is running better. And it’s true that spending time here will pay enormous dividends in terms of the customer-facing perception of your business… But don’t ignore how paying attention to reviews can help drive improvements in your customer experience more powerfully than you ever thought possible.
Reviews are a gateway into your customer’s thoughts and desires, hopes and frustrations. Why blunder around in virtual darkness, building expensive offerings that customers don’t value, only to miss the items they do? And this is why you need to be looking at both positive and negative online reviews. If you’re trying to point your company in the right direction, it’s every bit as important to see what your customers value as it is to see what’s bothering them.
Invest in Online Reputation Management Tools
Let’s get this one out of the way:
If you don’t have a reputation management software application or service, get one now. If online reviews can shape your the success and reputation business, then it makes sense to invest in tools that help you quantify the feedback as accurately as possible.
Online reputation managers can help you paint an accurate picture of your reviews without requiring you to do the work. These tools can even scatter-plotting them to see how many one-star reviews you’re getting vs five-star reviews.
But whether you use an online reputation management system or just have an intern sending an email summary every Monday, the key is what you do next.
- Benchmark the scores that you’re getting today. You’ll want to know how your efforts to improve your company are improving the customer experience.
- Select a handful of items to focus on and work those until you’re satisfied that customer reviews have changed in those areas. For your company, that could be five things or one. There is no right or wrong answer.
- Watch for improvements in your reviews and keywords in your updated reviews that suggest that you’ve been successful in your goal.
If you’ve chosen the areas to improve wisely, you should see a noticeable uptick in your reviews. Enjoy the moment, but keep at it. Building a better customer experience is a lifelong pursuit. Keep reading those reviews and keep looking for ways to delight your customers. Your business will thank you for it.