Reviews – data diamonds in the rough

Entering into the world of online review monitoring can feel a little like staring at the Cave of Wonders at the beginning of Aladdin. Do you dare venture within to find the diamonds in the rough? 

There’s a reason people say, “Don’t read the comments.” They can be vitriolic, downright inaccurate, hurtful and demoralizing. But as with everything in life, perspective and intention can shift your engagement with reviews. Rather than taking them as a reflection of your personal investment in your company, instead treat them as lumps of coal that, with time and a bit of effort, can be polished into gemstones for your business. 

Not sure you want to step into the tiger’s maw? I’ll answer the questions that I anticipate are at the front of your mind in an effort to convince you to wander into the Cave of Wonders that is your customer feedback. 

Why should I read reviews or customer feedback?

Think of your online reviews as your company’s report card. It’s just as much about knowing where you excel as it’s about knowing your shortcomings. Both are helpful in determining where you should dedicate time and different efforts. For example, the consistent top qualities as identified in customer reviews may reveal a key selling point for a future marketing campaign. Often-mentioned shortcomings can point to areas where resources could improve processes. If you don’t read reviews from your customers, you won’t have a full picture of how they experience your business. And if you don’t have the full picture, you can’t make informed decisions to strengthen your operations.

Do all reviews matter? 

If you think of reviews, you probably have a preferred platform that comes to mind. Depending on your industry, your customers and employees may flock to Yelp, Open Table, Glassdoor, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook or the bevy of other online review repositories. Do you need to evaluate and devote resources to mining every platform? I would argue yes, but not in the way that you think. As a business owner, you need to prioritize review assessment on platforms that hold the most sway. If you’re a B2B enterprise, your employee sentiment as reflected on Glassdoor will be more valuable than your rating on Tripadvisor. A restauranteur should be deeply involved with reviews on all dining-focused platforms, but may not need to devote resources to LinkedIn feedback. It’s not wise to ignore a platform, but you can invest more time in reviewing cataloging on platforms that drive business. 

There is also something to be said about review legitimacy. Not all feedback is created equal (and some folks just like to hear themselves type). Before creating a new policy or procedure based upon a review, take time and conduct due diligence to ensure the claims levied are rooted in reality. There are review bots out there, and while they’re not common, they can throw a cog in the works. You also have people who complain for the sake of complaining – and maybe they’re not the right fit for your business. For example, a person complaining about live music at your coffee shop’s well-attended open mic night doesn’t mean that you should cancel a community gathering. Long story short, always connect with your team to get to the bottom of a review and consider the larger picture before you determine your next steps. 

What do I do with them? 

If you’ve picked up where we’ve been going, it’s unsurprising that I’ll recommend you use reviews to shape and refine your work. We work with dozens of clients to respond and engage with reviewers to great success. The individual strategies vary based on the organization’s goals, but we help clients across the board use their review as a data source and decision-making tool. You can do that, too! Add reviews to your reporting. Seeing written feedback alongside sales, inbound calls, website traffic and other metrics can paint a compelling picture.

Do I really have to do this?

If you’ve reached this header, you have been thoroughly persuaded that review analysis matters, but cannot fathom taking this project on yourself. I get that. Thankfully, there are people out there who can take your reviews and turn them into meaningful data for your company without spending time scrolling through Yelp. And those people work at Obsidian. Connect with us today to learn more about what we do and how we can help you reach your PR goals.