Why online reviews will give your SMB the most bang for its buck

voice of the customer

The voice of the customer has never been more important than it is today, but what can your business do to most effectively capture it? And when you do have it what should you do with it? There are a number of different options to consider, including customer satisfaction surveys, focus groups, and online reviews.

Gaining meaningful insights

Traditionally customer satisfaction surveys have been the best method for gaining insights into the customer experience. Surveys made it possible for you to reach a broad segment of your customer base via an inexpensive delivery method – email.

But obtaining a qualitative, in-depth view of what it’s like to do business with you is more difficult through this channel. Because of the nature of surveys, it can take weeks or even months to collect and analyze the data. This means by the time you can act on the information, it might be out of date.

That being said, the data derived from customer satisfaction surveys is invaluable. It gives you insights into how your organization is performing as a whole, which can be extremely beneficial when developing strategies.

Conversely, focus groups give you the ability to obtain the in-depth insights you desire. Because they are in-person, you will also get the added insight of body language and voice inflection, which will give you further understanding into the sentiment of your customers’ words.

But what you gain in depth, you will lose in the smaller number of customers that you are able to reach. Focus groups can be costly, time intensive, and might not necessarily give you a representative sample of your customers no matter how hard you try to match your demographics. So if budgets or resources are tight, focus groups might not be the best route to take for capturing the voice of the customer.

Best of both worlds

Online reviews will give your small business many of the benefits customer satisfaction surveys and focus groups provide. Because you can collect them on a wide range of sites, including popular online review destinations like Google and Facebook, it is easy to reach a large segment of your customers without breaking the bank.

But online reviews also give you an in-depth look into the customer experience in real time. This gives you the ability to act immediately if a customer has a negative interaction with your business, making it possible to solve problems as they arise as opposed to letting them fester. And if the only benefit online reviews provided was meaningful feedback from customers, it would be worth collecting them. But they will provide your small business with much more than that, including:

  • Improved local SEO: It should be no secret if you’ve been following this blog that online reviews can give your SEO a boost. They are a major factor in Google’s local search algorithm. It’s important to note that Google takes into account not only what your overall star rating is, but how many reviews your business has and whether or not you respond to them. As such, online reviews aren’t something you can let happen organically. They’re something you need to work at continuously.
  • Build credibility: Consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from their friends. Having a large number of high-quality reviews will show potential customers what it’s like to do business with you and help you build credibility with your audience.
  • Increased accountability: When your employees know their performance is going to be reviewed by not only their supervisors but by customers as well, they will be on their best behavior. This will result in a better overall experience for your customers.
  • Better marketing content: There are a number of different ways you can use online reviews to improve your marketing efforts. Many businesses incorporate their star rating into billboards, post it on their website, and tout it in their blogs. Additionally, it can be an effective way to identify customers who you could interview for a testimonial.

Conclusion

Savvy small business owners that want to keep a pulse on their customers should proactively pursue feedback. While customer satisfaction surveys, focus groups, and online reviews all offer valuable insight into the customer experience, it is the ancillary benefits that make online reviews the most cost-effective option for SMBs.

Capture voice of the customer with Podium

Request a demo to see how Podium’s cloud-based solution can help you use text messages to invite your happiest customers to review your business. Podium’s efficient, mobile process can help your business collect 15x more reviews than traditional platforms, which in turn will improve local SEO and ultimately boost revenues.

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