How to find value in customer reviews

Companies might dread the thought of bad customer reviews and the damage they can cause to their business. They should be – the power of ratings and reviews is undeniable and their importance has only been on the rise in recent years.

But there is also great value in reviews. If you listen to your customers and show them that you care about their issues and not only about your image, the reward will be their understanding and support.


Why do reviews matter?

Reviews can hurt your business or push it to new heights, as consumers increasingly trust what other people have to say about the products they’re interested in purchasing. A study quoted by Econsultancy in 2016 shows that more than half of consumers go to Amazon first to search for product information, up with 11% from the previous year. And that’s only Amazon! What’s even more interesting is that reviews influence not only online purchases, but also offline ones. Bazaarvoice says that 54% of online and 39% of in-store customers read online reviews before buying. Reviews are here to stay and their influence is growing rapidly.

Also, a product is only as good as its weakest element, and listening to what customers have to say in their reviews can be an invaluable source of information for your product development and marketing teams. Conducting market research costs money, but reviews insights come for free. So no matter the size of your company, here is a rich source of information at your fingertips.

Carefully listening to what your customers have to say will tell you what improvements to work on and what features to prioritise in your next product. Similarly, your product marketing team can adapt their communication based on customer expectations. You can count on users giving their honest and often very detailed opinion in their reviews. Don’t be afraid of it, embrace it. It will give you hints on what to do next.


Harness the power of reviews

If you cannot ignore reviews anymore, then what do you do?

Here are four tips you can take away to start using consumer feedback in a way that is valuable to your business.

1.   Listen to understand, not to react. Forget that this person is complaining about this and that while you worked so hard to make your product as good as you could. They’re coming from a place of trust, where they bought your product hoping it would meet their every need. If this is not the case, don’t get defensive and give them a piece of your mind. Instead, try to put yourself in their shoes. Why are they disappointed and what can you do – either by adding a feature to your product or tweaking your communication to set the right expectations – to make sure they are the last person not feeling 100% in love with your product?


2.   Be nice. Try to write a response that’s helpful to them and addresses the issues they mention in their review. Staying on point, empathising and being respectful is the best way to turn a negative experience into a positive one. While you’re at it, you can also correct any trace of misinformation by showing them how to do something that they didn’t know the product was capable of. This will also show you what you can improve in your communication to prevent this in the future.


3.   Be genuine. Sometimes just letting them know that you are listening and they’re not just talking into the abyss can make a big difference. Is something that they’re requesting unrealistic given your budgets, timelines or capabilities? That’s ok. Just tell them that you hear them and if it will become a possibility in the future you will know that they suggested it.


4.   Respect your promises. Make sure that at least some of their feedback is integrated into iterations of your product, or in new products. If you know you won’t be able to deliver something, then don’t promise it. It will come back to haunt you.


A note to end on

Are you convinced that reviews can boost your business, and that negative feedback can become an opportunity to create better products and turn unhappy customers into promoters of your brand? If yes, happy to have you on board. Good luck!


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