Online reviews are an important tool for consumers in today’s digital age. Reviews help customers make informed decisions before making a purchase and give insight into the quality of the product or service. It’s effectively a win-win-win when reviews showcase customer satisfaction, build trust and credibility, and increase visibility online.
Online reviews can ultimately help shape the way people view a business and its products or services, and have become an essential part of the customer experience—but they’re not only for consumers. If you’re managing a brand, business, product or marketing team, you should invest a significant number of resources to make the most out of your business’s reviews. Here’s why.
Why you need to care about online reviews
Online reviews are essential to overall business success because they help build brand trust and reputation. They also contribute to the bottom line: With a better review strategy, you’re looking at better local listing conversions and even sales and revenue. Customers trust online reviews—in some cases, as much as personal recommendations—but not all reviews carry the same weight for your customers and prospects, who need to see recent, relevant, and local reviews.
First, they are looking for recent reviews; in fact, most users disregard online reviews older than three months. They are also looking for relevant reviews, covering different aspects or services of a business. So, it’s not just about the star rating: Most customers value the written review over the overall star rating. Finally, they are looking for local information and are interested not only in reviews for your brand but for a particular store.
Businesses should care about their online reviews because they offer valuable customer feedback that can be used to improve customer service, product offerings, and overall customer experience. Reading and assessing online reviews can help businesses identify customer trends, understand customer preferences, and gain insight into areas for improvement. Furthermore, actively responding to customer reviews can help to boost customer loyalty and increase customer satisfaction. Finally, reviews can help businesses understand the needs of their customers and make improvements to their offerings. Here are examples from two brands we have the privilege to work with.
How a restaurant brand used consumer reviews to adjust their offer
We conducted a detailed analysis of the ratings and reviews received by the various restaurant brands our client manages in order to not only measure performance but to understand what factors impact that performance and, ultimately, to implement positive changes that would improve quality and customer experience down the individual brand and even location level.
Leveraging TransparenSEE, our proprietary local presence management software, our team was able to identify the main underlying trends for the portfolio of brands and for each brand independently. For example, they’ve uncovered a significant drop in the star ratings for one brand and further investigation revealed that a lot of newer reviews were mentioning portion sizes. This allowed the business to pivot and make improvements to their operations. Ratings are now progressively climbing back up.
How a consumer electronics brand optimizes their review process
We also worked with a global consumer electronics brand to optimize the overall process of generating and managing reviews for their locations and products. Of course, this allowed us to identify interesting opportunities for process optimization, particularly in terms of how to get the desired number of reviews.
It was observed that reviews were only requested once, typically immediately after a product purchase. This is not an invalid practice as such, especially for fast-moving consumer products, but it is different for products that require more time to master. We therefore tested different review request timing scenarios to optimize the response rate. We also noticed that focusing on certain aspects of the product generated more responses; these are the elements they now put forward in their requests. Of course, we always ensure to request reviews in a neutral manner and let the consumer answer honestly rather than try to elicit positive reviews artificially.
Watch out for dark side of online reviews
Most leaders know by now that volume of reviews is important (if you haven’t read it yet, we’ve written a great blog on how to acquire more reviews). But you should nevertheless exercise caution when working with online reviews.
We are not immune to a wave of false reviews left by malicious fake users, as we saw last year in the restaurant industry. You may think the first thing to do would be to respond to a negative review by offering a resolution or something for free. But beware: Some scammers are leaving 1-star reviews for restaurants (and other businesses) then demanding gift cards in order to edit or remove said reviews.
Luckily, Google is backing owners by working around the clock to remove malicious reviews and protect the business profiles affected. Google’s policy clearly states that reviews must be based on real experiences. In this case, it’s better to work with Google to report the review rather than provide compensation.
In short, be sure to make the most of the information your customers generously share about their experiences with your brand, while keeping an eye out for potential outbreaks of reviews, positive or negative. Building brand reputation is about building brand trust, after all.
Interested in this topic and want to discuss it further? Our Local Presence Management experts are always happy to share their knowledge. Contact us!