Consumers nowadays have the power to sway market opinion. Through review sites and social media networks, customers can make public their experiences with businesses they utilised. User reviews influence buying decisions because the market now looks into the assessment of those who have already availed of particular products or services before committing to a transaction. Thus, client ratings and testimonials provide customers with both a resource and a voice that can affect one’s company or brand.
The rise of online shopping and e-commerce sites, social media pages, rating forums, booking sites and blogs have allowed patrons to consolidate their opinions and evaluation of a service or product in platforms that can be viewed by the public. With more and more sectors bringing their businesses in the cyberspace, customer reviews are no longer confined in the food and hospitality industry. It also extends in fashion and beauty, internet, retail and other service providers. Popular online personalities exude certain authority when it comes to setting trends and directing the flow of public opinion.
Given the shift in the mindset of buyers, how can user reviews impact your business and how can you use it to your advantage? Rankings and recommendations can become a marketing tool to promote your venture and, at the same time, strengthen the customer service and client relations aspect of your business.
The effects of customer reviews on a brand
It can boost or lower sales. One apparent and immediate effect of customer reviews is reflected in the sales performance of the product or service in question. Several negative comments may lower the sales of your business while, on the other hand, good reviews can boost profits as they drive more sales. When users are contented with the service, there’s a tendency for them to buy more or avail of additional services. The trend may vary from day to day, so make sure that you consistently have positive feedback from your customers.
It can build or damage your brand image. For a company, big or small, image is everything. If bad reviews keep pouring in, people will believe that you offer poor products of services, which may be difficult to reverse. It can cause a huge dent on your image because your existing and prospective clients may lose their trust in you. However, if you get good ratings steadily, the general public will regard you as a dependable company. It will build your stature in the industry that even a single minor unfavourable remark may not cause too much ruckus to your enterprise.
It can attract or drive out customers. Another impact of customer reviews is that they can either draw new customers to you or deter them from patronising you, let alone consider you as among their choices. Existing clients that are satisfied can become your regulars and brand ambassadors. They become your mouthpiece to others, so an endorsement or criticism can create a ripple effect on your future clientele.
The things you should do to bring it to your advantage
Knowing that customer reviews may have a lasting consequence in your business, here are some of the various actions you can take to make sure you turn every review to your advantage.
Always improve your product or services. Consider every feedback as a way to develop your products and services and enhance your business. If you always aim at providing the best quality and highest standards you will have satisfied customers. A user review can only become compelling if it rings true. Treat each customer like a VIP, making sure you provide them with good value for their money and that you attend to their needs.
Monitor online to gather feedback and reviews. Constantly check your corporate website, social media accounts, blogs and booking or e-commerce sites where you have signed up, blogs. Set alerts in your search engines to notify you when there is a new post or article about your business. It helps when you pay attention to comments and let your customers know that you heard them.
Respond to negative feedback right away. Don’t be afraid of receiving a negative review. Some fear it so much that they delete it from their sites. But the public will know and it will only cause more irritation from complainants. Avoid being defensive in your answers. It’s even worse if you go on the offensive. The best approach is to respond to the adverse feedback right away. Clear any misunderstanding if there is one. An apology may often be needed. It is also a way for you to show others that you are doing something to address the concern and that you are continually improving your products or services. When the public sees that you care for each client, they are more likely to trust you rather than just putting out only the positive marks you got.
Encourage satisfied customers to leave feedback. Irate customers are more likely to leave a review than those who do not have complaints because the former is charged with so much energy driven by anger that they will go out of their way to share their experience. Make sure you encourage satisfied clients to write their positive reviews. Some review sites may dissuade businesses to provide an incentive for favourable comments, so the best you can do is to remind them to write about their fulfilling experience for the benefit of other customers.
In the end, it all boils down to having good relations. It encompasses relationships with your staff, your sales team frontliners, suppliers, and clientele. Establish and maintain open communications with them and build on that. If you have enough resources available, be sure to have a dedicated person or department that will take care of customer relations. It pays when you tune your ears close to what your consumers have to say. In the end, it is up to you to take action or not. However, customer reviews can also aid you in coming up with informed decisions based on what is best for your company and the customers.