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This article was written by Vivek Patel, who works as a Local Search Specialist for E2M, a content marketing agency based in San Diego that specializes in content strategy, creation, promotion, and SEO for domestic and overseas clients. You can find Vivek on Twitter @vivekrpatel.

People are obsessed with feedback.

We base our Uber drivers on stars, choose our lunch spots based on Yelp reviews, and sort our Amazon searches by customer satisfaction.

In fact, 84 percent trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations when making a purchase.

If a company is truly interested in improvement, they have to pay attention to the issues customers are having, so that they can find out what’s working and what isn’t. While many companies are taking advantage of customer feedback as a valuable resource, it’s not always a simple task.

Reviews mean different things to different businesses. When examining yours under a microscope, avoid these four classic mistakes.

Mistake 1: Not Looking for Patterns

According to a recent study, the most common word used in negative online reviews is “disappointed” or “disappointment.” On the other hand, the most used positive words are “love” and “great.”

Pay attention to the language your customers use in their reviews and see if there are commonalities or hidden trends. Of course, there may be some oddballs here and there, but in general, reviews tend to follow a pattern. In fact, sites like Yelp actually highlight words or phrases that are commonly found in reviews, so it’s easy to spot which items or employees customers often talk about.

The best way to notice patterns in your online reviews is to use a tracking system that records important data from the feedback. There are lots of social media monitoring tools and customer experience management platforms out there that will do the tracking for you, so research and choose the software program that works best for your type of business.

If you have multiple sites where customers can leave reviews, use ReviewTrackers to consolidate them into a single dashboard. The program can also analyze data from online reviews and customer feedback, giving you deeper insight into what and how your customers think and feel.

Mistake 2: Failing to See the Big Picture

A common mistake companies make is to only fix the surface-level issues addressed in online reviews. They fail to dig deeper to find the root of the problem.

Take a closer look into each review to see what department or business policy is causing an issue. Regardless of whether it’s customer service, the UX of your company website, online presence, or the products and services themselves, remember that these issues all have an impact on your bottom line. Applying feedback will require your entire operation to work together to find solutions and improve the big picture.

You’ll also like: Improve Your Entire Organization with Actionable Customer Feedback

Meaningful improvement starts with open interdepartmental communication to ensure a minimal amount of hiccups throughout the process. Online reviews can spark inspiration, but to properly execute these changes from top to bottom, there can be no lapses in coordination.

From management, to customer service, to IT, all departments must be on the same page and able to adapt as a single unit. For this purpose, collaboration and task management tools like Workzone allow team members to easily pool resources and work together, on support issues with organization-wide implications, ensuring a unified effort.

On the other hand, make the most of positive reviews by using them to effectively market your business. 74 percent of consumers say that reading a few positive reviews increases their trust in a business and influences their likelihood of purchase, so be sure to display them in a highly visible spot.

If you run an online retail store, ecommerce platforms such as Shopify allow you to build your best customer reviews right into your website.

After customers receive their purchase, they can leave a review through Shopify’s product review service app. You can then pick and choose which ones to display on your site, making it easy to use them to better market your business. Ideally, these will also be displayed on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).

Mistake 3: Not Responding to Customer Concerns

Ignoring customer complaints (or praises) does not bode well. It can make you appear as if you are uncaring or unwilling to listen and improve.

Negative reviews are not necessarily a bad thing; they are actually a great opportunity to improve the situation. Leaving a response not only lets customers know their voice has been heard; it can actually lead to growth over time.

Be careful and strategic when you are writing a response, especially if you are dealing with a disgruntled customer. Do not respond on emotion, no matter how tempting that may be. Following a checklist when you construct a response is a great way to remain professional.

  • Recognize the issue and apologize.
  • Ensure that this experience is not usual and definitely not up to your business standards.
  • Let the customer know exactly how you intend to prevent the issue from happening again.
  • Invite them to give your company a second chance.
  • Sign off with your personal information so they can contact you if needed.

Take the high road and apologize if necessary, and always try to provide a solution. Be sure to reply in a timely manner as well; most customers expect a response within a week.

Mistake 4: Taking it Personally

As Hillary Clinton put it, “It’s important to take criticism seriously — not personally.”

Remember that reviews are a resource of powerful suggestions for improvement, not personal condemnation against you as a business owner. Psychologically, it is natural to take negative complaints personally and react by retraction.

In order to counteract this natural reaction, take every review with a grain of salt and try to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Was their reaction warranted based on their experience or are they exaggerating to vent their frustration?

The best way to deal with negative reviews is to be prepared for them ahead of time. You cannot expect to please everyone. Less than stellar reviews are just a natural part of running a business; they’re not the end of the world. Use them as guidelines to improve for the future, respond courteously, and move on with your day.

In Conclusion

In order to make your business the best it can be, you need to listen to customers. Learn from your mistakes and look for patterns and common issues that need resolution. Create a unified force in your business to tackle problems at hand and work together for improvement. Take the time to craft a polite and effective response that aims to resolve the issue. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t dwell on the negative. Learn from the mistakes, acknowledge the problem, and work towards a solution.

(Image credit: Yelp)

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

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