In generations gone by, businesses would only take stock of reviews if critics and journalists in major broadsheet publications published them.
Even then, it would only be motion pictures, books, and restaurants that received this type of ongoing commentary on a regular basis.
Now every commercial entity is subjected to ratings and feedback from all quarters with digital domains and social media channels expanding.
The emphasis is therefore on the brand to determine how they comprehend this information and how they should reflect on the data moving forward.
1) Taking Them Seriously
Reviews that are left by customers have to be taken seriously. This is the first port of call for businesses who actually want to service their constituents rather than painting a positive picture without providing the substance to support that image. The idea of word of mouth sparking extra business is a rare occurrence when anyone can run a quick online check to see what other customers have been saying. If this element is overlooked and there is a culture of negligence, that will be to the detriment of the organization.
2) Identifying Where Reviews Are Publish
Not every location where reviews are published happens to be the same. While critics can be scathing and more willing to be critical on Facebook and Yelp!, other sites like Google can be more friendly. Assessing where this traffic is heading is a major component for enterprises, especially when it comes to delivering a marketing message through the mediums that their consumers engage with on a regular basis.
3) Identifying Who is Publishing Them
The customer profile of the reviews might not be easily obtainable given the nature of the account and the domain, but there are ways and means of detailing who is leaving their commentary. From blue-collar workers sourcing new building equipment to wealthy patrons at first-class restaurants, it is valuable information to gauge the type of people who are motivated enough to leave their opinion on a public forum. This is the type of data that marketing and PR practitioners crave, shaping the narrative and driving better engagement.
4) Documenting Trends in Commentary
It is easy for arrogant and presumptive businesses to look at reviews purely through the prism of 5-star ratings. Yes, this is an important metric, but it is the comments that add context to ratings that are anything from 1 to 5 stars. Are they disappointed with the price? Were the staff members rude or unresponsive? Maybe the new product was a smash hit and the outdated model was not worthy of their time? The positives and negatives should be documented with a focus on the areas of improvement.
5) Delivering a Response
Whether it is via a direct or private message to answering the feedback in the comments section, businesses should look to take steps to engage with those who make the effort to leave reviews for good or for bad. That recognition of their response ensures that the enterprise is seen to be acknowledging the commentary and are willing to build bridges and make amends when their experience falls below expectations.
At the end of the day, reviews left by customers are free data to mine with impunity. It is objective and honest feedback from constituents who feel motivated enough to log in and tell their fellow community members whether or not the brand is worthy of their business. Companies that have genuine ambition for growth and representation have to take this component seriously and create a culture of reflection and accountability to see these ratings improve over time.