Why Customer Reviews Matter

January 5, 2019 | Tools & Tips

Customer reviews have a powerful influence on your business. One study by Deloitte suggests that 81% of consumers check ratings and read reviews before making a buying decision. With Google tracking at least 35 billion searches per day, getting your company associated with great reviews is not only important, it is vital to business growth.

One main reason customers use reviews is to feel informed and validated in their purchases. Medallia recently found that, “Three out of four Millennials do extensive research before making a purchase decision, and 50% report that online reviews were the most influential factor driving a recent purchase.”

The power of reviews and testimonials to influence behavior is part of a psychological phenomenon known as “social proof.” In situations of uncertainty, such as deciding from an overwhelming number of options which brand or product model to buy, people look to the actions of others for an indication of the correct behavior.

Having a large number of quality reviews reinforces the notion that buying your good or service is the right decision. Many companies are leveraging the power of social proof by collaborating with social influencers to promote their services because people “trust” what the influencers have to say.

A crucial component of every small business marketing plan is a customer feedback strategy. Business owners cannot afford to ignore customer reviews, especially as millennials continue to reshape buyer habits. Six out of every 10 consumers now look to Google for reviews.

How Do I Gather Customer Reviews?

“The customer is always right” is a phrase marketers have used for decades and it still rings true in this digital age. As small business owners, we often allocate huge budgets to create environments and user experiences that are customer-centric from start to finish. But, if we are missing the mark, we need to know about it and then resolve the problem.

So, what’s the best way to find out how your customers feel about your business? The first step is pinpointing your customer feedback goal because there are many different feedback tools that generate a variety of customer data.

Here is a list of the most common ones:

  • Online Reviews– We’ve all seen the infamous Google Stars. Have you ever been swayed to not go somewhere because it only had three stars? That’s the power of customer feedback. While it’s great to have real-time feedback for others to see, it’s a bit dicey for the business owner since the good and the bad can be posted for all to view. (More on how to handle negative feedback below.)
  • Survey Tools– Surveys are popular and useful for data collection. They range from a couple questions to being rather lengthy, and can provide good insight into specific aspects of a customer’s experience with your business that you are interested in improving.
  • Voice of the Customer Tools– This type of feedback hones in on what the customer is feeling in “real time.” Medallia notes that you can listen to your customers through interviews, focus groups, email, and social platforms to name a few. Through these various channels you are able to get a complete picture of what your customers are saying and use that data to improve your business.
  • Community Feedback Tools– This is a place or portal on your website where consumers can share their experiences. It’s also a great place for customers to troubleshoot issues and help resolve problems. It creates a community feeling as they discuss various topics. Businesses can read through and learn a great deal from the conversations.

For more information about the various forms of customer feedback and companies who specialize in these tools click here.

The Difference in Proactive and Reactive Customer Reviews

Being proactive with your customer reviews means using the tools available to you, including those mentioned above to gather information to learn and grow. By actively soliciting feedback, you can troubleshoot issues before they become problems for a large segment of your customers. If you are trying to build a targeted strategy to achieve your marketing goals, it is important to take a proactive role in obtaining customer feedback.

Even if you are engaging with your customers directly to obtain regular feedback, there will be times when you need to react, such as when someone leaves a review on Google or Yelp. Because these sites are public, they expose your company to both positive and negative feedback. It is a good business practice to have processes in place to respond to reviews, especially negative ones, so that customers can observe your commitment to resolving problems as they arise.

So when do you use which strategy? You actually need both. As business owners, we need to be able to anticipate issues and take care of them before they turn into real problems for customers, and this is done by proactively using customer feedback tools. But with billions of searches daily on Google and millions of people accessing Yelp each month, our businesses are available for review by the public and we have no choice but to participate in customer conversations as they take place.

I Have Customer Reviews – Now What?

Once you have customer reviews, it’s important to build a strategy around them. Utilize reviews in email marketing, website testimonials, and print marketing materials to show customers how your products or services have solved the exact pain points they have for others in the past.

  • Email Marketing– You might hear there’s money in the lists and this is very true. Nurturing your email lists and sharing what customers are saying about your product is another way to assure the reader that your product or service does what it says it will do.
  • Website Testimonials– Add customer reviews into the flow of your website. They are great validation that your product or service works. Entrepreneur notes that testimonials aren’t salesy; they build trust and they help your potential customer overcome skepticism.
  • Print Marketing– Use customer feedback in your materials to build your brand name through the power of testimonials. For brick and mortar stores, having tangible printed information is a must.

How to Handle Negative Reviews

It is inevitable that not everyone will love your company and that’s okay. It’s not the negative review that will determine what happens next – the next step is actually up to you. There are a few processes that you can put in place to handle such situations.

Setting alerts so you know when people review or post about your company can be done through Google. This helps keep you up to date on conversations happening online about your company.

Always respond to negative reviews in a professional and friendly tone. Don’t argue or make excuses; rather, apologize, explain, and try to offer a resolution. Sometimes simply responding quickly and thoughtfully is enough to convert a frustrated customer into a satisfied one.  After the issue is resolved, step back and review what happened. Learn from it and grow.

Here’s a recap of how to handle negative reviews:

  1. Know When People Review
  2. Always Respond
  3. Handle the Situation Quickly
  4. Learn From It and Grow

Not every day will be full of glowing reviews , but even bad reviews offer the opportunity for a positive outcome — both for your customer and your company.

Customer reviews are essential to your marketing strategy and are a key part of the next phase of your business’s growth. So, how will you implement reviews into your current processes?


Note: You should always check with legal counsel to ensure your marketing campaigns comply with all state and federal laws.