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Customer Reviews: Your Best Friend

The most obvious public forms of customer feedback are customer reviews. We see them when we search online for restaurants, when we’re considering a purchase on Amazon, or when we look for the best physical therapists in our area. As business owners and managers, we know customer reviews are important, but do we always understand why?

Pretend you own a pizza shop, and Bob is your customer. Bob comes in, receives pleasant service, gets his food quickly, thinks his pepperoni slice tastes great and is happy with the price. Because his experience was so great, he goes home and writes an online review, expressing the various elements that made his visit enjoyable. You, the owner and manager, see his review. What does this mean for your business? Most managers give themselves a pat on the back, tell their staff to keep up the good work and see the review as a nice compliment and affirmation of their efforts. However, the review’s power is much more substantial than a figurative high-five.

The reality is that good customer reviews impact your business’s bottom line. When a customer gives a good review, it starts a cycle of opportunity and revenue. The individual is already happy, so they’re more likely to come back, and they’re excited enough to voice their support. Customer reviews enhance SEO, and make your business’s footprint more obvious online. This, alone, makes potential customers more likely to come across your business.

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Once a customer comes across a positive review of your company online, that individual is more likely to solicit your business. Companies spend millions on new customer acquisition, and this “passive form” is powerful due to the validity of a review (instead of promotional material). Similarly, once that individual comes in for business, they already have a positive perception (and your business already has a great customer experience in place). They come to you, they’re happy with their experience and they purchase. From here, the cycle begins again – the new customer you just acquired is likely to leave a positive review and amplify your reach.

Besides creating this positive cycle of customer feedback and acquisition, reviews can help other projects, like marketing and customer experience research. Owners and managers should pay attention to how satisfied customer talk about their business – what are the key themes that keep coming up? Sometimes, managers have a skewed perception of the most important parts of their business. Managers might be emphatic about competitively low prices, for example, while the customer is more concerned about the user interface for that business’s app. Understanding customers in their own words should direct marketing material because others will likely care about the same things.

Similarly, customer feedback in the form of reviews opens opportunities for customer experience research. The customer review trends are like the beginning of a path, where further customer experience research can explore. What questions do the reviews raise? What parts of your business are they critical about? Unanswered questions from reviews are a great starting point for customer experience research.

Finally, what if your reviews are negative? It’s okay, don’t panic. This is an opportunity, not a legacy, and negative customer reviews can change over a relatively short amount of time by improving pain points and asking for reviews once those points are addressed. The sooner your business addresses those shortcomings, the sooner the cycle of review-to-revenue growth can begin.

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