Customer reviews are defined as the feedback generated by those who have used a company’s product or service. Online shopping platforms and social networks are generally the preferred tools for transmitting feedback, whether or not it is publicly visible. This feedback is a fundamental resource, and companies must be able to capture it in order to survive in a market where visibility, for better or for worse, is decisive. In large part, reviews are not something for businesses of any size to fear, as most of the time, they are written by satisfied customers. According to Nielsen, 83% of online users worldwide consider word of mouth from friends and family to be the best form of advertising. In addition, 56% also trust reviews written on social networks and online shopping platforms. In addition, BrightLocal‘s Annual Consumer Reviews Report points out that even products with negative reviews are more likely to be purchased than those with no user feedback. This means that user interaction is invaluable for businesses and must be an integral part of the communication strategy. Finally, the consumer habit of consulting web pages before purchase also suggests the need to consider mobile when it comes to content creation, given that 75% of users under 34 say that mobile is the mode of choice when it comes to going online. Let’s go back to the main points of an effective strategy for managing customer reviews, which is one of the most important elements of the brand reputation, valid B2B and B2C. Let’s take Hubspot as a starting point to develop a 4-point framework for an effective multi-channel strategy.
1. Choose the right online platforms for your business
What kind of content is expected from customer reviews: a detailed product review or simple ratings? Are there specific platforms for the company’s sector of reference? These questions define the channels where users can leave comments and reviews and, as a result, where your business should be active. Let’s take a look at the main platforms where almost every type of business can, and perhaps must, be present.
With Google My Business, businesses can provide their location, business hours, and offers directly while using the search engine. You can also leave a space to write reviews and leave a rating of 1 to 5 stars. Google can be an initial starting point for customer reviews.
The main social network remains one of the most important places for brand promotion (and increasingly, its sister network, Instagram). The possibility of creating video and image content that cannot be directly linked to a product or service, for example, allows companies to carry out multiple types of campaigns, from brand awareness initiatives to the user experience-style stories (who can become real brand ambassadors). Of course, the review space Facebook offers can be just as functional.
For B2B marketing, LinkedIn is clearly the most widely used channel. Here, companies need to develop a broad and constant interaction with their followers and must include the logic of customer reviews and other types of feedback from outside. In this case, the use of groups or the provision of useful content for customers can result in positive customer reviews.
Quora is a great place for companies to proactively interface with users by answering their questions or addressing their doubts about your products. Quora has experienced enormous growth in recent years, exceeding 200 million visitors per month in 2018. The platform is characterized by high-quality content, guaranteed by a very strong community of users/moderators. This is a great advantage for business users who want to make their skills available by responding to reference threads. In addition, Quora is where users can exchange views or provide product support. In this sense, the company is able to intervene within the thread, proposing solutions to users’ problems or collecting opinions and suggestions on products and services.
2. Optimize your content for reviews
There can be no effective feedback strategy without user-tailored content. In this logic, Hubspot suggests providing direct, easy access to company social pages via the company website and, more generally, to make it easy for users to leave reviews on the site.
3. Attention to touchpoints
Reviews can be an excellent starting point to identify pain points and draft a customer journey map. In addition, proactively managing feedback and responding quickly to users’ requests is not only essential for doing business, but it’s also an opportunity for growth in terms of loyalty.
4. Take advantage of positive reviews at the level of promotion activities and respond to negative ones
In the logic of trusting your peers, nothing can be more persuasive than a user’s opinion in spending decisions. Offering positive customer feedback on your pages can significantly increase conversion capacity. The response to negative reviews also demonstrates the ability of companies to listen to users. In addition, the ability to innovate based on customer feedback can turn a potential threat to brand reputation into an opportunity for growth. The ability of companies to respond to attacks against their brand is also important. In this sense, the customer review can become a double-edged sword. Brand resilience, a term made famous by Jonathan Copulsky, describes the risks for brands that come from both internal stakeholders and external groups, risks that are heightened thanks to the speed and visibility of the internet. For this reason, companies must be prepared to respond immediately and effectively to events or deliberate attacks, as well as to everyday user reviews. The characteristic features outlined by Copulsky in determining the communication strategy can be summarized in these three points:
- Risk awareness: Knowing what the potential “danger” points are is part of a proactive communication strategy.
- Speed: 90% of users say the brand response is effective only if made within 30 minutes of their review or posting.
- Style: The response must be in line with the brand message. Alignment of the brand with the product is also necessary in post-sales communication.
Bidirectional conversation: the key to a new relationship with users
The ability to respond to users in a multi-channel dimension is, therefore, the first step for a good relationship with users. However, a proactive customer communication strategy also implies a concrete response to the needs brought to light in customer reviews or through customer chat channels. The concept of a two-way conversation in marketing is defined in this sense: if, on the one hand, the processes of nurturing in digital marketing offer targeted content, but have a lesser ability to describe in-depth the needs and the point of view of the user. In other words, companies must consider these channels as opportunities for a two-way conversation with users, where they can also capture important information, such as unique insights into your product or service, and discovery of pain points to support customer journey mapping. Marketing & Growth Hacking suggests a few points to be identified in the conversation with the user in order to make the most of the conversations with users:
- Change needs: More than a static form or questionnaire, a conversation with a user is what will often elicit unique details of a customer’s true opinion.
- Client defection measures: from an in-depth relationship, you can understand which customers are not going to continue the relationship and you can gain an added perspective on the reasons why.
- Increasing promotion by word of mouth: The ability to relate to the customer greatly increases the possibility of positive feedback and the likelihood that a satisfied user will spread the word with their networks.
The ability to receive information from dialog with customers as well as through standard customer feedback channels requires efficient internal data transmission within the company, especially with the product development teams. In this sense, a customer feedback loop is defined as the ultimate goal of the business strategy: once consumers’ needs are taken into account, creating a circle of continuous improvement will give the entire business a new ability to adapt to the competitive environment. In conclusion, this highlights the importance of communication throughout your organization. Every company needs a structured communication plan that includes each online channel, management of customer reviews, and the most up to date knowledge of the market.
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