Podium recently surveyed more than 2,000 consumers who interact with online reviews on a regular basis. The survey contained a lot of interesting online review stats, but one of the most interesting findings was that more than two-thirds of consumers would be willing to pay up to 15 percent more for a better experience. Focusing on quality over price isn’t a strategy that will work for every business. But emphasizing customer experience is a good way to create loyalty and improve your online reputation. 

Know what your customers value

Paying 15 percent more for a better experience might seem like a lot. That’s why it’s important to have a grasp of who your customer is and what they value. I recently spoke with one of our customers in the auto services industry who caters to a higher-end clientele. This business owner knows exactly who his target customer is. They value the quality service, well-trained technicians, and the parts his business offers.

From time-to-time, his business will get a negative review from a customer who thought the prices were too high. Those reviews used to drive the owner crazy. But not anymore because the owner knows the person leaving those reviews isn’t his ‘customer.’

What that means is that person doesn’t appreciate the perks his shop offers like longer warranties, a better-trained staff, and overall higher quality work. He knows this because he receives a large number of positive reviews from his regular customers.

Those customers heap praises on his business and drown out the small number of negative reviews he receives. Getting negative reviews can be hard, but your business doesn’t need to be everything to everybody. Focus on what you do best and a vast majority of consumers will leave satisfied.

Use Quality of Service to Differentiate

Once you understand who your customer is, it’s time to tailor your customer experience to meet his or her needs. Many industries we deal with operate in what is essentially a perfectly competitive market, which put simply means firms are selling an identical product and buyers have complete access to information.

When operating in a perfectly competitive market, businesses need to find creative ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. We suggest using your customer service and superior experience to set your business apart. Businesses that aren’t emphasizing customer experience will eventually start losing customers. Research by Accenture found that 66 percent of customers will switch companies due to a bad experience.

Focusing on customer experience will do more than just make your customers happy, it will also help grow your business. That is because happy customers are more loyal and spend more money. How much more? According to Harvard Business Review, customers who had the best past experience spend 140 percent more than those who had the worst experience previously.

Highlight customer experience with reviews

Finally, you’ll want to make it very easy for consumers learn about your stellar customer experience. The best way to do that is by identifying which online review sites matter most to your industry. Then make an effort to build a presence on those sites.

Nowadays, customers learn about and research new local businesses through online reviews. That’s why it’s important to proactively manage your online presence. Online reviews help consumers know quickly which businesses are going to meet their needs. They are also very influential in the decision-making process.

The tricky part is getting your customers to follow through and leave a review. Most of them (77 percent to be exact) would be willing to leave a review, but just because they’re willing doesn’t mean they will follow through. To ensure they actually do, you will need to eliminate many barriers that previously inhibited customers from leaving a review. Implementing an online review management tool like the one offered by Podium streamlines the process, directing them right to the reviews section of most sites, which will significantly increase conversion rates.