How to Leverage Online Customer Feedback

By Todd Renard

Customer feedback—good or bad—is inevitable, especially with review sites such as Yelp, Google and Facebook becoming ever more popular places for potential customers to seek advice. These reviews, both positive and negative, can impact your online reputation and influence customer decisions. But, they also provide an opportunity your business can leverage in a number of ways.

Review sites give customers an avenue to react and respond to their experience with a business, but at the same time, they give the business owner a direct opportunity to respond.

According to a recent story on SearchEngineLand.com, 92% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses and 80% of those consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. When you open up your business to receive this feedback, and take the time to respond, you also open up the possibility to utilize the feedback beyond just the review sites.

One way you can use feedback from reviews, is by turning the review into a customer testimonial, which you can then feature on your website. This gives you the ability to share credible and unbiased recommendations for your business, right where consumers are looking for that information.

Why are testimonials effective?

Testimonials are effective for three reasons:

  1. They build trust. Sharing direct commentary from a customer’s positive experience with your business gives additional credibility to the message.
  2. They aren’t selling anything. Testimonials share experiences and unbiased accounts of actual customer experiences without the typical sales component of a company-created marketing message.
  3. They answer questions. Especially for potential consumers questioning making purchase decisions, testimonials answer the most important question, “Should I patronize this business?”

What makes a good testimonial?

As you begin collecting reviews from your business profiles on the top review sites, you want to filter out the reviews that could be turned into powerful testimonials for your local business. Look for these five key elements for a good testimonial:

  1. Filled with benefits that inform a reader specifically why your business stands out above other, beyond simply “These guys are great!” Look instead for comments such as these guys helped me pick out the perfect bed frame for my needs and my price, and even delivered and set it up for me! Could not have been an easier, faster or more pleasant experience.” That covers cost, speed and customer service all in one.
  2. Backs up your business claims, echoing the sentiments consumers can find in your marketing material or said in your location.
  3. From a relatable figure, such as a person within your target audience. 64 year old widow Molly Johnson may be the best representation for your college-town retail location, compared to a review from the college’s star football player.
  4. Is credible and includes a first name, last name, hometown and a photo to really showcase that your testimonials is from real customers in your area.
  5. Sets your local business apart, whether it compares your business to another in the area or simply emphasizes a customer’s outstanding experience they received, a good testimonial helps your business stand out from the crowd.

Once you’ve found reviews that contain these five things, you’re ready to start sharing them! Feature your testimonials prominently, anywhere you share your business’s benefits and services. This also helps to back-up your claims and make them more credible.

When sharing reviews in the form of testimonials, it’s always advised to reach out to the reviewer first, and get approval for your business to share the review elsewhere. This is also a great opportunity to ask for any additional information from the reviewer to further enhance the testimonial.

Your customer’s passion for your business and the service you provide can drive more folks to your business. Just remember to take advantage of the positive reviews and feedback you get online by sharing them as customer testimonials of your business.

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Todd Renard
Todd Renard is the Vice President of Digital Product Management for the Berry Company and LocalVox, both Vivial companies. He is responsible for product development and innovation for the Vivial suite of digital products and services. As an industry leader, Renard has over 20 years of experience bringing products to the SMB market place and has been recognized for his leadership in operationalizing, promoting and fulfillment of online advertising solutions for local businesses.

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