Do you realise why comments and reviews matter so much? Well, let me ask you, when was the last time you bought something WITHOUT reading the comments and reviews left by others?
I’ll wager when you last booked a hotel break or dinner at a restaurant you looked up comments and reviews left by past guests on the Internet. What about when you want to try out a new employer or fitness studio – don’t you look for testimonials and reviews?
Consumers: harness the power of your wallet
Let’s face it, we are inundated with information these days. But we are also becoming smarter shoppers, wouldn’t you agree? We start our buying process online. More often that not, we complete it there too.
According to recent figures, over £700m was expected to be spent online during Christmas Day 2015. That represents an 11% increase over 2014. Expectations for the day after, Boxing Day, came in around £850m up around 22% year on year.
As we spend more and more time online, so we become used to the idea of seeking out others’ opinions on things we want to buy before we hit the purchase button.
For example, if you are reading this on a smartphone, don’t you look at how many stars an app has before you decide to buy it?
What about when you want to buy a car? Of course there’s a lot of factors involved in choosing the right one for your needs. There is the brand perception, your budget, fuel economy, (not that you can trust that information these days), and whether the vehicle can fit all the people or gear in you want to transport around.
Where do you get that information from? You visit the garage to test drive the car and pick up some literature, right? Wrong.
Increasingly we look online first. We trawl websites. We play with car configurators. We check Auto Trader or other trade press. We ask our friends. Oh, that’s right, we seek out reviews too in specialised publications like What Car Magazine.
So you see, whenever you decide to buy something, you are ever more likely to do so from the comfort of your own home behind a screen of some size or another.
As consumers we wield a lot of power. We will trust the word of a complete stranger over that of a sales person in some cases, especially if the place we found that information is popular and presents you with a live discussion and recent comments to review.
So the next time you are asked for your opinion, remember how useful you find the information others leave for you and be sure to have your say.
Businesses: harness the voice of your customer
Face it, if you don’t have happy customers, you might as well not have a business. In fact, with consumers becoming ever more diligent, it won’t be long before you don’t have a business if you fail to address the concerns they raise.
Now I’m not suggesting all reviews are valid. And with the proliferation of review sites like reviews.co.uk or TrustPilot as well as the vast array of social media channels springing up like Periscope, Snapchat, Peach and more it can become a full-time job for someone in your business just to monitor what’s being said about you.
When you are starting out, you can ask people face to face whether there is anything you can improve. You might ask them to record a short video testimonial for you or write you a review on email.
As you grow, you might turn to comment cards or a simple email follow up after their visit. As you grow and the volume of customers you serve increases, you might decide to invest in a more structured programme to capture customer feedback.
There are tons of technologies out there for you to choose from, from free services right up to customised software solutions to suit your business needs.
But those are the comments you solicit. What about the vast array of social media channels out there that you don’t control. How do you harness the power of your customers’ voices there?
Many businesses establish social media teams to respond to comments on Twitter and Facebook, etc. But with more and more technologies coming online empowering individuals to share videos about you on YouTube, Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat and Peach to name but a few, it can become a full-time job for several people very quickly.
Is this something you face in your business? How are you embracing the voice of your customers? Do you have a strategy for that – or is it something you need help with?
Together: improve the customer experience and grow your business
I am personally excited to be at the forefront of thinking and strategic development in this space. I think it is right for consumers to express their opinions about products, services, companies and employees. At the same time, I think there’s a right and a wrong way to do that.
One of the things that can ease consumer frustration is for businesses to demonstrate they are listening. Recognize the fact people spend their personal time to tell you what you are doing well and what needs to change.
So be proactive and try to engage with your customers. You can start by addressing legitimate concerns and problems they raise. By responding with action and open communication you reduce the potential for fake reviews and duff feedback from those seeking to just be a nuisance.
The voice of the customer is one of the most powerful tools you have in your kitbag as a business. Similarly, with more and more businesses formalising their approach to customer experience and voice of the customer, we consumers also wield more power to influence and change the things we don’t like.