By Shawn McGowan, JobsInME.com
Today, individual buying decisions are powerfully influenced by other consumers. In the age of Facebook, Twitter, Angie's List, CitySearch, Amazon and countless other websites, consumers now have access to a sea of good and bad user experiences to decide whether to buy from your company or from your competitors. Listening, responding and adapting to this feedback has quickly become critical to businesses worldwide.
Today's Consumer Voice
While people rely on internet searches to help them decide where to dine, which healthcare provider to see, or which paint contractor to hire, one thing remains certain: consumers trust other consumers.
Today's consumers have an infinitely larger community to tap into than the traditional word-of-mouth circle of family and friends.
According to a recent survey, of consumers who recalled reading online reviews prior to making a purchase, 90 percent reported that reading positive reviews influenced their buying decisions and 86 percent were influenced by the negative ones.
Where Ratings Matter Most
One rude waiter, one confusing tech support call, one misunderstanding and the recipient can turn to their online networks with a vendetta for your brand. A poor review that reaches the feeds of 1,000 or more Twitter or Facebook friends can be harmful yes, but once those remarks sink lower on the public timeline, they disappear from memory. A negative review posted where your audience goes for purchasing research, however, will remain and continue to affect your "average user experience" rating.
Put Your Ear to The Ground
By setting some time aside each week to search for online mentions of your brand, you'll find the communities that are talking about you. Pinpointing these hubs is essential in understanding the complaints and praises of your customers and how it influences others and future business. It can be as easy as "Googling" your company name or keywords to find where your product is sold or where your service is reviewed and discussed, and bookmarking them for later reference.
You may even want to consider a tool like Review Trackers that listens and compiles reviews across multiple websites for you to streamline and centralize the process.
Questions To Consider
Once you have responded and provided the best customer service possible to your detractors and thanked your brand champions, compile those negative consumer reviews and consider these questions and actions moving forward:
- Is it a fair, constructive critique? (i.e. "I love your product, but..." or "If you only had this feature...")
Action: Take steps toward achieving suggestion
- Is the review describing a weakness that you were already aware of?
Action: Address both the weakness and the negative review
- Are your reviews more positive or negative, on average?
Action: Set goals to reduce the percentage of your negative reviews
Either way, it can be a great opportunity to get to know your customers better by listening to their concerns and you can use their reviews as a conversation starter and a jumping point into a better user experience.
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As a Social Media Marketing Coordinator, Shawn McGowan's passion for brand transparency and over 10 years of sales/customer service experience make him aptly suited for the job. A native of East Millinocket, Maine, Shawn grew up at the foot of Mount Katahdin and graduated from the University of Maine Presque Isle with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). When not writing, editing or immersing himself in the world of social media, he can be found enjoying the outdoors, art, music, tech, humor, Portland's amazing food scene, and all things nerdy. You can reach Shawn at smcgowan (at) JobsInME.com and Twitter.com/shonymac.