4 Things to Consider Before Building a Review System
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. As the standard for consumer engagement rises, so too does the standard for customer intelligence. Digital engagement continues to emerge as a differentiator between brands, giving customers an idea of how responsive and reliable your customer service is. And understanding customer insights past conventional metrics and CSAT scores is also important. Lucky for any brand operating in the digital era, you can kill two birds with one stone.
Online review systems and media outlets like Facebook and Yelp terrify brands. As consumers spend more and more time online (consuming media, shopping, clicking on ads, trolling brands, etc.), businesses usually associate review systems with potential negative feedback and crippling PR. But unless you have a reason to hide in the bushes, you shouldn’t look so guilty. In other words, designing and maintaining a review ecosystem can be to your advantage. Think of this platform as a garden that requires constant monitoring and innovative ideas to grow your brand and gain consumer intelligence.
1) Invest in a digital ecosystem
According to Brian Cantor, CCW Principal Analyst, in a recent special report, 66% of organizations are mapping their journeys, but fewer than 10% are actively using customer insights to orchestrate experiences. Building a digital review ecosystem is the best way to orchestrate those experiences. Partnering with platforms that specialize in reviews can also be valuable—both for those that want to create their own review ecosystem and for those that want to show reviews but don’t intend to create their own platform. Companies like Amazon and Microsoft, for example, pull in reviews from Yelp and other review platforms to populate their sites.
2) Cultivate the content
Often when a business wants to gain actionable consumer intelligence, they might build or finance an expensive feedback software or chabot survey on their website, or maybe organize a forum on a public reviewing site. While using analytics to personalize customer centricity is arguably one of the most important practices for any business, the goal isn’t to overspend on creating a hose of customer complaints. It’s important to both distinguish the validity of reviews (what kind of language is the customer using, can you tell if their story is accurate) and interact with customers (addressing both positive and negative feedback either publicly or privately).
This creates personalization, gains customer intel, shows your grateful for positive feedback, and willing to work on the negative feedback. If a review is positive, directly message the customer with a thank you and publicize the review on social media or a designated area of your website, as Amazon and Microsoft do. If it is negative, thank the customer for the review anyway and publicly address the comment.
3) Dig through valid and invalid reviews
According to Yelp, “Timeliness is everything. If you aim to respond within 24 hours, you increase your chances of having a reviewer upgrade their review to a higher star rating by 33%.” This introduces two things to think about. One, digital response times are very important. Two, this study proposes an interesting discussion point for both brand reputation and customer service in general. If a consumer reviews your customer service team poorly but is willing to change their review of a brand (say one star, a whole 20 percent on a 5-star scale. Or even two stars, a whopping 40 percent) over something as seemingly trivial as a delayed response time to one of many comments, would you trust that customer's initial review as an accurate depiction of your brand? Should that review weigh the same amount as the others? Probably not. But the point remains, when it comes to gaining actionable consumer intel through a review system, it’s important to distinguish between valid quality reviews and emotional reactions.
For example, a one-star review for one customer may be a three for another. It’s important to dig into the reviews. Some options include studying the language and word choice of customers, measuring individual customer review history, creating a more detailed review system than a traditional 5-star rating or standard net promoter score, or interacting with customers through direct messaging or further comment options to evaluate their experience.
4) Offer cream-of-the-crop incentives
Engaging with customers on their reviews can be a great way to gain scalable insights and give your brand a marketing platform depending upon how you strategically deal with the reviews. But motivating your platform’s users to contribute reviews and ratings can also be great PR and create a sense of community with your brand. According to a recent Harvard Business Review case study, “In 2014 Airbnb offered a $25 coupon in exchange for reviews and saw a 6.4% increase in review rates.” An investment strategy like Airbnb used in 2014 definitely helped them rise through the hospitality industry, but not everyone can afford to spend substantial capital on their social media marketing budget.
“In Google’s Local Guides program, users earn points any time they contribute something to the platform—writing a review, adding a photo, correcting content, or answering a question. They can convert those points into rewards ranging from early access to new Google products to a free 1TB upgrade of Google Drive storage. Yelp’s ‘elite squad’ of prolific, high-quality reviewers receive a special designation on the platform along with invitations to private parties and events, among other perks.”
Incentives like Google’s Local Guides program or Yelp’s elite squad truly are review ecosystems and are great ways to gain a competitive digital marketing edge through additional customer engagement mediums while gaining actionable consumer intelligence.
It will be interesting to see who else will capitalize on the largely untapped tool of digital ecosystems (and how) in the next 5 years. Tune in to our live event, The Contact Center of 2025, on December 3rd and 4th to introduce yourself to analysts’ predictions and upcoming cutting-edge technology trends at our complimentary online summit. Everyone knows the right questions to ask in customer centricity, but fewer analysts know the answers than CCW’s world-class experts and contributors.