With more and more e-commerce sites appearing, customers are turning to reviews to determine where to take their business and as a result, review websites such as Google, Trustpilot and Yelp have become major forces in the online retail space.
Research reveals almost 65 per cent (%) of consumers say they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business. Since its launch in 2004, Yelp has registered 186 million users each month, posting nearly 150 million business reviews.
As COO of The Hamper Emporium, I work closely alongside my sister and CEO Emily McWaters, and am responsible for the logistics, e-commerce, and day-to-day operations of the business, always with our customer at the forefront of the decision making process.
One of the ways we achieve customer satisfaction is by holding fortnightly customer feedback workshops. During these workshops, our Customer Service Manager consults feedback received over the prior two weeks and creates a rolling list of points to action.
The aim is to prevent issues occurring in the future. The measure of success is seeing a reduction or elimination in complaints or issues.
We have worked hard to bring our ratings up to an industry-leading level and are proud to display our Trustpilot (9.6 out of 10) and Google Trusted Store (4.8 out of 5 stars) scores prominently on our website.
Here are some of my insights on how to use customer reviews to grow and adapt a business.
The importance of customer reviews
Reviews allow customers to feel heard, and if they see changes to the site, products or delivery, they know their feedback is having an impact. Customer reviews also reinforce trust and are a mode of social proofing when a customer is making their decision of where to take their business.
As an online gifting retailer, not only do customers entrust us with their money when they place an order, they trust us to deliver a gift to an important person in their lives, often for a special occasion. That trust begins to build when a potential customer reads about what other customers have experienced.
It’s important to remember reviews, both positive and negative, are not a form of ‘one-way’ communication. It’s critical to put forward the best impression of the business when a customer is choosing who to shop with, and this includes connecting with your customers and responding to all reviews in an open, honest and transparent way.
How to use online reviews to grow and adapt a business
Not only do customer reviews and overall satisfaction impact the reputation of a brand, business owners should also consider the information provided as an opportunity to grow and adapt the way they operate and the products they offer.
At The Hamper Emporium, we’ve found some gems of information and ideas for improvement that we otherwise would not have known, had it not been for actively seeking feedback through reviews.
Almost a year ago, we switched carriers altogether based on customer feedback about delivery. There were certain elements to the delivery experience that were not being met that our customers deemed non-negotiable – and so we listened to them and made the switch.
We are now continually tweaking our delivery options and online descriptions based on customer feedback. In my experience, the bulk of dissatisfaction with delivery comes from incorrect or unclear expectations. It’s our job to ensure our customer is well-informed when they place an order.
Reviews reveal the preferences of our customers, and we have used these on many occasions to change and develop our products. In fact, quite a number of plans were put in place following the initial rounds of feedback, and since then, our scores on Trustpilot and Google have steadily increased.
Amy McWaters is the COO at The Hamper Emporium