How to exploit feedbacks and reviews to reinforce your brand

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Marketers often use the expression “for better or for worse, as long as you talk about it” – paraphrases of a sentence of The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – to emphasize how important in communication is to be heard of and perceived by the audience “regardless” of the kind of feeling. Generally, it is used to explain or justify excessive communication modalities (vulgar or aggressive) or real epic fails of companies, but in our field can serve us to introduce the delicate topic of feedbacks, comments and criticism of users, that can become levers to drive our products and services.

How to exploit feedbacks for the brand

Usually, you might think that it is better not to receive any review rather than read critical notes: in reality, any kind of interaction with customers should be well accepted, whether positive or negative, structuring an operational mode to collect, process and respond to user reviews in a profitable way.

This type of exchange allows us to shape our products, to solve any problems, to intervene to give advice and so on: for this reason, feedback should always be appreciated and encouraged, also because the word of mouth remains one of the main informative channels available to users, as we said talking about the online SEO reputation.

But what are client reviews good for?

The “as long as you talk about it” mottocan be considered somewhat similar to the assumptions of brand awareness, according to which it is necessary to inform the public about the existence and characteristics of a brand, of which it initially has an essentially neutral opinion, not too good, not too bad, building our own narrative.

But marketing also takes advantage of another rule never denied, according to which “the higher the media exposure, the higher the appreciation of a brand”, which is based on the unconscious mechanism of imitation for simplification.

Basically, it is like people are automatically convinced that something very well-known cannot be too bad, whereas when they stumble upon a new product or brand they are more reluctant – statistically – to an immediate purchase and seek more information (or more likely turn to something known). What matters is the collective awareness, which is also unrelated and independent of reputation, because it is in itself an indicator and a factor of choice.

The usefulness of users feedback

And this is what reviews can serve, which are useful for at least five practical reasons:

  • They raise confidence of new consumers, who are better prepared to trust the positive and reassuring experiences of customers who have purchased and tested a product or service and recommend it.
  • They represent a social test, an impartial opinion and external to the brand that can confirm our promises.
  • They are proof of our competence and professionalism.
  • They improve the conversion rate: reading a review “at the right time” can give the final boost to the purchase to a hesitant user.
  • They help the SEO, the visibility and overall brand/site reputation.

How to convince the users to leave comments and reviews

It is not always easy to get these feedbacks as people often get bored of “wasting time” to tell their own experience: generally, the comment comes naturally at the end of a remarkably positive experience or, even more frequently, when it was an exceptionally poor one.

To facilitate the process, you have to intercept people at the time of maximum satisfaction and enthusiasm for the journey, but above all to smooth the operation and focus efforts on the most relevant channels for the activity – site, social or Google My Business – possibly using a third-party platform to quickly manage the flow or expect the sending of follow-up emails to request feedback at a later time.

In addition to that, you can incentivize comments by offering some benefits to the users, such as a small discount on future purchases or other kind of benefits.

The importance of negative feedbacks – and of the resolution of issues

It is almost inevitable to have to do with some criticism and negative reviews, we were saying just that: what matters is not react badly nor just ignore (or delete) the comment as an attempt to protect our image, but rather to use every single feedback to improve our service and eventually discover the current weaknesses that, with an optimization work, can be solved and overcome.

In case of negative feedbacks, our task is precisely to understand what went wrong in the user experience and how we can solve the problem.

Managing critical comments

There are various methods to handle these critical situations, and a searchenginewatch article suggests for example a four-step process, which starts from direct contact with customers who have left negative or controversial feedback, to understand precisely what the problem was and fix things.

  1. To thank the person for sharing their feedback and reporting a problem or malfunction.
  2. Regardless of the cause of the negative impression, be sorry and willing to make amends.
  3. To verify what exactly went wrong and how you can intervene to remedy the situation: depending on the type of business, we can offer a reparatory benefit, such as a demo session, an extended trial access, an extended subscription or promotional code.
  4. If we have identified and solved the problem – and we therefore believe that the user can be satisfied with our efforts – we ask to update and modify the review.

Changing our approach to critics

For the growth of our project and our reputation, we should not worry about the negative review itself, but rather about the fact that we are providing a poor service: therefore, our task is to try to transform the negative experience that a user has had with our brand into a positive experience, which can also serve as an example for other people and grow the reliability of the brand.

It is not always possible to ensure perfect services and mistakes are around the corner in every area of our life, even online: proving to be able to listen to problems, intervene quickly to solve them and interact with even the most difficult customers are factors that can help to build a positive image of our brand and our work much more than false reviews or criticism ignored and hidden.

Negative reviews and Google: to promise incentives to users to change feedback is off limits

Of course, there are easier and more direct ways to ask users to change a negative review, and in particular many companies offer (or would be willing to offer) some form of incentive in exchange for a positive change. In addition to being unethical, these practices are expressly forbidden by Google, which in its latest revision of its guidelines on “Maps user-provided content standards” (which apply to all formats, including Reviews, Photos, and Videos, and serve as a compass for other products in the ecosystem as well) makes explicit precisely the prohibition “on paying for, incentivizing, or encouraging the posting of content that does not represent a genuine experience, or incentivizing positive reviews in exchange for discounts, free goods and/or services.” Similarly, another entry has also appeared that explicitly emphasizes that companies must not “discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”

In Google’s view-and users’, too, if we think about it – manipulating a customer’s opinion basically means falsifying their experience and thus exposing subsequent customers to similar negative experiences.

For this reason, in addition to activating an automatic review processing system (capable of detecting inappropriate content such as fake reviews and spam), Google has added this additional specification, sharply and clearly prohibiting brands from incentivizing feedback and content “in exchange for discounts, free goods and/or services,” including even “merchant requests to review or remove a negative review through offered discounts, free goods or services, or other incentives.”

Therefore, Google also implicitly confirms that the only way to change a negative review into a positive one is to intervene on the problem and try to resolve the situation that frustrated the user: only after actually making their actual experience better can we then contact them in the hope that they can precisely describe the case in an updated way and reevaluate the brand, improving on the initial feedback (and somehow becoming a testimonial of the company’s positive work, even in the face of a critical case).