This week we feature an article by Megan Wenzl about the importance of online reviews to your business and customer engagement. Asking your customers to post online reviews shows that you have confidence that you will take care of your customers by delivering a great customer service experience and taking care of any problems that may arise – in such a way that will earn you a glowing online review. – Shep Hyken
A woman goes online to search for a hotel to stay at during her upcoming trip to New York.
She types in “hotels in New York” in the search box and results populate the page. She chooses the Refinery Hotel, with 680 google reviews. She reads through some of the reviews and decides to book her stay.
Customer engagement is the communication with customers through a variety of channels to create emotional connections that foster customer loyalty. Your brand must consistently engage with customers on the platforms and channels that are available at the time.
In the 20th century that communication was made through TV and radio advertisements, magazine print advertisements, and sponsorships.
Although the idea of customer engagement is still the same, what has changed in consumer culture in the second decade of the 21st century is the way businesses connect with customers. The way to create a connection today is to be transparent, to communicate with customers through digital channels, and to create a one-of-a-kind experience.
Customers today will engage with your business if they feel a connection during their entire experience interacting with your company. Customers need to feel heard and know that you care about them.
Online reviews are just one of the digital channels in which businesses interact with customers. The websites that host online reviews, such as Facebook and Google, are some of the most important platforms for customer engagement because these sites are an important research tool for customers when they begin their journey with you.
Reviews Help Customers Find You
More than a third of searches are local, according to research by ReviewTrackers.
When a customer searches for “pizza in Lincoln Park,” for example, the review quantity and velocity are one of the of the factors that determine where a place that serves pizza shows up in local search results.
You might be thinking: Customers find my business through friends and family recommendations. I don’t need online reviews. Talking to friends and family is one of the ways customers will find your business, yes. However, online research is another important method for customers to use to find out about your business.
In fact, 58 percent of local searches end up with the consumer planning a visit to your business within 48 hours. Sure, word of mouth recommendations are important, but for consumers today, local searches are an increasingly common way people research and decide to visit a business.
Reviews Help Improve the Customer Experience
What can you find out about your customers with data? A lot. You can investigate what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and what your customers think about their experience.
You can make operational changes based on what real customers have to say. You can innovate based on customer feedback analysis and overall, make a person’s life better and not just simply provide a service. To engage with a customer is to be more than a product or service – it’s to deliver an exceptional experience.
Here’s an example. ReviewTrackers analyzed baseball stadium reviews and found that the top stadiums gave fans something the lower ranked stadiums did not: character, good food, good service, and an enjoyable experience.
Companies that analyze trends within reviews can understand what customers like and what they don’t like about the operations at business locations. You will find that customers advocate for your business in positive reviews and that the data from online reviews can help you improve the customer experience to increase overall customer engagement.
Megan Wenzl is the associate editor for ReviewTrackers, an award-winning customer feedback software that helps businesses measure and transform the customer experience.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
Read Shep’s latest Forbes Article: Dreamforce Showcases The Fourth Industrial Revolution