How Reviews Can Impact the Business to Consumer Relationship
Online reviews aren’t just about your star-rating.
It’s tempting to focus solely on growing the number of reviews we have on our profiles and doing whatever it takes to ensure that they’re overwhelmingly positive. Savvy business owners, however, know that reviews are also a valuable tool that can enhance the relationship they have with their customers.
If you listen carefully to what your customers are saying about you online, you can use this information to grow your bottom line, build an unshakeable brand, and become most trusted, sought-after business in your field.
5 ways that reviews can impact your business-to-consumer relationship:
- Build Trust
What people say about you online and how you respond to their feedback will determine whether people trust you or have second thoughts about doing business with you.
Today, now more than ever, trust is a key indicator of business success. Everyone can build a good widget. And, when it comes to services, we are bombarded with options. How do you know which dentist in your community is the best, for example? They all have similar qualifications, a lovely office, and a gallery of beautiful smiles on their social media pages.
But, when you see hundreds of glowing reviews, then it inspires confidence in a business, and customers are more likely to trust that they’ll receive top-notch care and excellent service.
While having a collection of positive reviews is obviously an asset, a few negative reviews sprinkled among your praises can actually help build trust.
It might seem counterintuitive but put yourself in the mind of a customer and think about a business that only has rave reviews. No one is perfect, and the chances of an organization never having a single dissatisfied customer seems unlikely, especially if the business has dozens of reviews.
If your reviews are 100% positive, then it can make potential customers suspicious that your reviews are fake, or you’ve done something unsavory to censor any negative write-ups.
However, if you use respond promptly and professionally to a critical review, then you get a chance to showcase your customer service skills while simultaneously showing that you care about the people that patronize your business.
And while we’re on the topic, don’t forget to respond to any negative reviews you receive. If you ignore them, then it can hurt your reputation and make you seem untrustworthy.
- Set Expectations
After you’ve collected a couple of dozen reviews, patterns will begin to emerge. Reviewers are bound to start repeating things. Phrases like, “The bowl of fresh fruit and the gourmet coffee are a nice touch,” or “Parking is always a hassle, so I have to leave my house an extra five minutes early” will stay in the mind of potential customers who are reading your reviews.
Some customers will love the idea of complimentary fresh fruit in your office and will decide that anyone who offers food and caffeine is someone they want to work with. Others might prefer to visit the office that has a new and extravagant floral arrangement each week.
When reviews contain specifics about your office or service, it helps your prospects decide who best fits their criteria. Not everyone will care about fresh fruit; and having to plan to leave early to find parking isn’t a deal breaker for someone who walks, takes public transportation or has an office in the same building as yours. But, when customers know what to expect, it can set the tone for the relationship.
Ideally, the expectations that your customer reviews will encourage will be positive. Most people prefer fresh fruit to nightmarish parking, but the point is that if you can set expectations in advance, new people are going to be more satisfied. If your parking situation is indeed a hassle, but you have other qualities that are infinitely more important than parking, then customers are likely to weigh the benefits and conclude that getting top-notch care is worth a couple of circles around your parking lot.
When they come to expect it instead of being surprised by it, they might not even mind it, especially since they already knew that parking could be a challenge.
- Develop a Brand
In addition to setting expectations, reviews can also help you establish a brand.
Most likely, there will be similarities in the experiences people share about your office. If you are a dentist, and several patients comment on how painless your procedures are, then you may end up being known as the “pain-free dentist.”
You benefit by not having to pay for this branding, and you don’t have to work to convince your community that your procedures are painless. Your patients are doing all the heavy lifting for you in terms of advertising.
The court of public opinion is powerful, so keep a close eye on what your customers are saying in their reviews, and make sure they’re consistent with how you want your business to be perceived. As a dentist, pain-free might not be the benefit you want to promote.
Although just about everyone would agree that pain-free procedures are best, you might prefer to be known for your work in the field of pediatrics or implants, for example. If that’s the case, then it’s time to work on your patient communication.
Though you can’t directly influence the content in a review, you can potentially influence what your reviewers talk about by asking them to submit surveys and then prompting them to leave a review afterward. The survey questions could prompt them to discuss topics of your choosing, which could directly influence them to write about those exact topics.
For example, in the above scenario, your office is trying to become known as the premier pediatric dental clinic. Your survey questions could center around dental procedures for kids and whether the patients view your office as kid-friendly. Then, when it comes time to write a review, these prompts are likely to be fresh in their minds.
- Helps Improve Your Client Interaction
Your clients might not tell you in person something they’re unhappy about it, but when they can share their thoughts freely without having to approach you directly, they’re bound to speak more freely.
You can use this information to improve your business. Not only that– but when your customers see that you take their feedback seriously, they are also likely to appreciate the efforts you’ve made to accommodate them.
For example, if you are an optometrist and you notice a couple of reviews saying that your team always steers patients toward the most expensive frames without first inquiring about budget or style preferences, then you know that you have something to work on. You can train your team and communicate to patients that your priority is finding a style that they feel confident wearing that also fits their budget. Not only will new patients appreciate this approach, but your previously offended patients are also likely to notice the shift in the procedure.
- Empower Customers
Anything unknown is risky. If a customer is considering doing business with you, they don’t have any firsthand knowledge whether you provide a high-quality service. All they have to go on are the opinions of people they know or online reviews.
By having detailed online reviews that paint a picture of how you serve your clients, potential customers get a better idea of what to expect if they decide to work with you. The information contained in the reviews takes the risk out of this choice. It helps them to feel confident that they are doing the right thing.
If you’ve ever wanted to get into the heads of your customers, reading what they say about you online is one of the best ways to do it. Think of these reviews like free market research. You are getting a ton of unsolicited feedback that you can use to continue to evolve and become increasingly customer-centric.