How to Use Reviews to Inform Customer Service Strategy

Good or bad, reviews create a powerful customer experience. Here's our guide to improving your customer service strategy using reviews...

Customer reviews are a powerful thing to have in your marketing arsenal. Not only can they boost sales, strengthen brand loyalty, and turn prospects into proper customers, but they can also help to give your customer service strategy real direction.

Plus, they’re pretty low effort and low cost as far as marketing methods go, so if you’re not using them to your advantage, you could be missing out on real results. Looking to start reaping the rewards that customer reviews can bring you? You’re in the right place.

By the end of this guide, you’ll get to grips with why they matter, how you can get your customers to start leaving more reviews, the proper way to respond to them, and why they’re so important to their overall experience.

What is a customer service strategy?

A customer service strategy lays out how you’ll talk to your customers. It sets the standard for your interactions from initial contact to resolution, giving your agents a guide on how to align their customer service activities with the needs of your customers.

With a customer service strategy, you can unlock all kinds of different benefits. By understanding their needs, you can greatly improve your relationship with both current and past customers, which helps drive repeat business. And since it standardises the processes and systems that surround your interactions, it keeps things consistent support-wise too.

When these benefits combine, your customers are far more likely to sing your praises to other people, which ultimately goes a long way towards boosting your revenue.

Why are customer reviews so important?

They provide social proof

When people see others raving about your products or services, it brings your business a certain amount of clout – one that’s going to give your sales a shot in the arm. The more credibility you can show through your reviews, the more likely customers are to part with their cash.

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They help to improve customer service

Customer reviews house some real insights. By taking their words to heart, you can better understand their needs, work on improving the weaker parts of your offering, and resolve any issues they might have encountered. When customers can see that their feedback is playing a part in improving your service, they’ll show their appreciation through greater loyalty in return.

They do the marketing for you

Think of customer reviews as mini marketing campaigns. They offer bite-sized, scannable summaries of your business you can use to powerful effect. In fact, they can provide insights and information that even your boots-on-the-ground marketing efforts might not be able to. What’s more, they keep doing the work for you whether it’s days, weeks or months down the line, continuing to put you in a positive light in the long term.

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They improve search rankings

Positive reviews and SEO go hand in hand. Basically, the more positive reviews you have, the higher your website is going to rank on Google. When people keep visiting your website because of your reviews, it sends a clear message to search engines: you’re an authority in your industry, so you deserve to rise-up the search results pages.

How to get your customers to write reviews

Ask them

It might seem like it goes without saying, but you shouldn’t expect your customers to leave reviews unprompted. Give them a nudge by asking them to write about their experiences whether you send them emails, tweets, texts or even in person.

Automate review requests

If you and your team are too busy to manually ask for reviews, then you can always automate the process instead. Pop-up forms that appear after making purchases online are a great option, as are follow-up emails. You may even consider sending out customer feedback emails every month, asking them to complete a survey about their experiences.

Dedicated review acquisition services are another excellent method. Such companies automatically send an email to your customers, asking them to leave a review. If they complete the request, then their review will appear on these third-party review sites for all to see.

Target satisfied customers

You stand a better chance of receiving more positive reviews if you target customers you know are happy with your service. Here’s where customer surveys come in extra handy. By collating the positive responses, you can invite these customers to leave more detailed reviews.

SurveyMonkey and GatherUp can help here, parsing the positive from the negative, before creating template email requests that then go out to your biggest champions. Don’t forget to personalise the request, either!

Make the process straightforward

A long-winded and arduous review process probably won’t go down well with your customers, even if they have positives to say. If you want more customer reviews, then making the process for leaving them as simple and streamlined as possible is vital.

Giving your customers a few different review sites to choose from is a good start, especially if they’re already familiar with using them. Keep your email requests short and make them feel special. If your customers aren’t especially tech-savvy, then avoid using any platforms that require them to sign up to a Facebook or Google account just to leave a review.

Engage with your reviews

Interacting with reviews is always a good look. If customers see a business actively engaging with their customer reviews, whether they’re positive or not, then they’ll be more inclined to leave a testimonial of their own. It shows that you’re appreciative, and in the case of negative reviews, it shows that you’re not afraid of engaging with criticism.

Incentivise the process

Customers are a lot more likely to put down their thoughts if they know there’s something in it for them. Consider offering things like discounts, freebies, or even charitable donations for your more socially conscious customers in exchange for customer reviews.

How to respond to customer reviews

Like we said above, responding to customer reviews is well worth taking time out for. But there are different ways of handling them based on whether they’re positive, negative or even flat-out false. Below, we’ll run through how to respond to the good, the bad and the phoney in the proper way.

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Responding to positive customer reviews

Respond promptly

Don’t let your positive reviews collect dust. A late review looks lazy. Prompt reviews, on the other hand, show you’re both active and appreciative.

Thank the reviewer

They’ve gone out of their way to be nice about you, so be sure to thank them for their response. It’s the least you can do!

Keep it short and to the point

A long review might look like you’re laying on the thanks a bit too thick. A short, impactful response is always the way to go.

Be genuine and personal

A boilerplate response is going to come off as robotic and inauthentic. It’s far better to respond with something warm and human. Address them by their name, and be sure to point out any specifics they’ve mentioned in their review for a couple of bonus points too.

Add a call to action

Use your response as an extra opportunity to get them to act. Ask them to share their experience with their friends, follow you on social media or point them towards related items they might also be interested in. Making the most of your interactions is a great way of wringing the maximum amount of value.

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Responding to negative customer reviews

As with your positive reviews, you should again address the reviewer and thank them for their feedback, but this time around, you’ll need to go into damage control mode. Be sure to do the following when responding to negative customer reviews:

Apologise for their negative experience

A quick apology shows you care about your customers – even if it’s not your fault. Plus, showing you’re taking responsibility for the incident stops you from making embarrassing excuses.

Resolve the issue

If it’s possible, address the issue mentioned in the review. This is the time to show you’re proactive about criticism, so let them know about any improvements or changes you plan on making based on their feedback.

Offer further communication options

Provide your customers with additional communication channels, such as an email address or a phone number, so they can talk about their experiences in more detail.

Ask for a second chance

Ultimately, you want to create confidence in your ability to deliver positive customer experiences. Be sure to invite them to do business with you again at the end of your response.

 

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Responding to false customer reviews

Occasionally, you might encounter negative reviews that are obvious fakes. The last thing you want is to have your name dragged through the mud by phoney responses. Here’s what you should do if certain responses have raised your suspicions.

Make sure it’s actually fake

Does something about the review look off? With fake reviews, there are a few tell-tale signs, including the following:

  • The reviewer’s name does not appear in your customer database
  • The reviewer has left similar reviews for other businesses
  • The review mentions services or products that you do not offer
  • There is little in the way of detail or elaboration in their review
  • The review contains obviously false information

Report the review to the review site

Google, Facebook, Yelp and other review sites will all have their own processes for reporting fake reviews, so once you’re convinced such responses aren’t the genuine article, follow the steps you need to take to report them.

Remember, it can take a few days for a review to be properly assessed. And there’s no guarantee that they’ll be reviewed, so be prepared to respond in the same way as you would with legitimate negative reviews.

Looking for customer service that speaks to your contacts? Gnatta makes interactions matter, delivering quality exchanges and quicker responses that meet your customers’ expectations. 

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