Customer Research | What online reviews can teach you about your customers

Having a good understanding of your customers is essential to running a successful business. However, some customer research methods like focus groups and customer satisfaction surveys are cost prohibitive for many SMBs. Fortunately, there are cost-effective ways to learn about the customer experience. In this post, we’ll highlight insights that can be gained from closely monitoring your online reviews.

Are they satisfied?

A quick glance of your business’ star rating will give you an idea of how your customers feel about you. This is especially true if you have online reviews coming in on a regular basis. The data you receive in online reviews will be more in-depth than a typical customer satisfaction survey. In a survey, when you ask a customer to rate your business on a scale of 1-10 and they rate you a 6, it’s hard to know what that even means.

With online reviews, it’s more readily apparent how a customer feels about your business and employees. Instead of just giving you an arbitrary number ranking, they let you know in no uncertain terms how they feel about your business. This information can help you identify, in real-time, if your business is having problems and give you a head start on fixing them. In fact, a recent study found that 58% of respondents say reviews help them identify opportunities for improvement.

What they like and what they don’t like

Online reviews are especially helpful when you are launching a new product or service. This is because they let you see how the changes are impacting customers in real time. This will enable you to fine-tune service on the fly, resulting in a better overall experience for your customers. If you were only using customer satisfaction surveys to conduct customer research, you would have to wait much longer to gain actionable insights to improve your business.

Identify customer advocates

Digging through online reviews can also help you identify customers who are willing to advocate for your business publicly. Online reviews and customer recommendations are extremely valuable because consumers trust them much more than marketing messages. That’s why we recommend looking for opportunities to incorporate testimonials and customer referrals into your campaigns to help improve consumer confidence about your business.

What differentiates your business

Another thing you can learn from online reviews is what differentiates you from your competitors. This will require a little extra legwork on your part. You will need to find out what customers are saying about you and your competitors in online reviews. This will help you identify reasons why some consumers are choosing the competition and, in turn, why your customers are doing business with you. Smart businesses will use that information to improve messaging and draw more consumers away from the competition.

Streamline online review management

There is one caveat. Your business needs to have a large volume of reviews coming in on a regular basis. If you don’t, you probably won’t have enough available data to feel comfortable making changes to business strategy. To ensure you are getting the most value out of your online reviews, we suggest implementing an online review management platform to streamline the management of your online review program. A good online review management platform will consolidate all of your online reviews into a single dashboard. Having all of your reviews in one place makes it easier to acquire actionable insights and improve your business.

Learn more

Request a demo to see how Podium’s cloud-based solution can help you use text messages to invite all of your customers to review your business. Podium’s efficient, mobile process can help your business build a strong online presence on the sites that matter most. This will, in turn, improve local SEO and ultimately boost revenues.

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