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Voice of the Customer & Online Reputation


If we’ve learned anything in the last five years, its customer-driven marketing strategies are uniquely qualified to facilitate a win-win situation for businesses willing to listen and engage their customers. 

Try it… tweet at us and watch us respond.

Marketing strategists around the globe are embracing marketing practices that do more than monitor customer feedback. Instead, they seek to fully utilize the data provided by customers, down to the nuances of communication that make the customer-base for each establishment unique. One way to get the most out of business intelligence provided by customer reviews is to leverage the voice of the customer. Use it to improve your reputation, enhance the user experience in other marketing channels, and craft brand messages that utilize idiosyncratic communication characteristics of your customers.

In other words, try to listen to (and not just hear) your customers.

Foster a Responsive Culture, With Dialogue (HELLO!)

To state it simply: if you stop listening to your customers, then your customers will stop speaking. Each online customer review offers an opportunity to engage with someone who is already familiar with your brand and product, and cared enough about it to give it a try. Listening to what your customers have to say, and demonstrating that their opinions matter, reaffirms the relationship that your business has with the reviewer. 

At the minimum, all you have to do is respond to their reviews. Simple, right?

It also communicates to the rest of your audience that you are the type of organization whose business model is shaped after what your customers really want and need. In other words, a successful business.


Engaging with your customers by responding to their reviews, listening to their feedback, and taking steps toward correcting issues results in repeat business and increased willingness on the part of other customers to actually take the time to provide feedback to benefit your operational model. It informs other consumers of what makes your business a good value proposition, and highlights any potential points of friction.

Well-managed reviews often result in increased business volume, which snowballs into more and better online reviews. The voice of the customer matters more than ever. Feedback that falls on deaf ears is bad for businesses and bad for consumers.

Review Rants, Righting Wrongs

When it comes to negative feedback, face it head-on. Often times, rants and complaints posted on review websites are not necessarily true or reflective of the quality of your business. In fact, some of the craziest rants we’ve come across on popular review websites are unfair and borderline malicious. 

The good news? Yes, there is some good news.

This type of feedback is the exception and not necessarily the rule. More often than not, a negative review is rooted in a real problem. To get the most from a negative review, you must be able to look beyond the rant and filter through exaggerations to identify the real issue.

Review the rants with care, conduct internal research to validate or dismiss the concern, and respond to the review quickly. Convey your commitment to providing the reviewer a remedy to the problem internally to avoid repeat instances.

Righting wrongs is one of the best ways to turn a detractor into one of your most loyal brand promoters.


Use Compliments as the Centerpiece of Your Brand Character

Luckily for most businesses, the majority of online consumer reviews are positive. In fact, Yelp reports that 67 percent of their reviews are four or five stars. Compliments, kudos, and all manner of written endorsements can be used as the focal point of your brand.

Everyone loves a happy story, right?

Use your positive reviews to enhance your sales pitch, bolster your social media efforts, and provide potential new customers with a peer-based recommendation. Add reviews to your website with a review widget. Customer endorsements are powerful and can trigger increased conversion on your online and offline sales and marketing channels.

Learn and Use Linguistic Nuances to Improve Affinity

There are two very important aspects to online customer reviews: what the customers say and how they say it. Strong marketers have known for a long time that learning the linguistic nuances that their audience prefers will let them shape your messaging with clarity.

Using vocabulary patterns and specific words that best match the way the segment speaks and carefully listening to how your customer conveys what he or she likes or dislikes will allow you to shape your pitch by including language that may reflect regional preferences or cultural trend.

Know what I mean, bro?

Small changes in descriptors can have a significant impact on building affinity and having other potential customers from a similar segmentation feel more attracted to your offering.

Reinforce, Reassure, and Remove Barriers

All reviews deserve a response, that’s the bottom line. Whether you do that publicly, on your review site, is up to you.

By listening to your customers, understanding their voice, and replying to their accolades or complaints, you are reinforcing your commitment to deliver a product or service that exceeds the expectations of those you serve.

A response also provides reassurance regarding the way you deal with less-than-perfect execution. If a customer knows that you will take the time to get things right, then he or she will be more willing to do business with you and cut you a break when things don’t go as planned. Finally, do everything in your power to remove barriers that may hinder engagement. Make sure you have taken over each of your review-website profiles, and be certain that your customers are aware that your profiles exist, should they wish to leave feedback. It is up to you to reduce any barriers that may hinder the voice of your customer. Take steps to facilitate engagement by requesting reviews when admissible, and creating awareness of your customer-driven marketing strategy.

Did I miss anything? Leave your voice in the comments below!

Chris Campbell

Chris is the CEO of ReviewTrackers. He has helped tens of thousands of businesses hear, manage, and respond to what their customers are saying online.


  1. Rod S Lee

    Customer nuance can be very effective. Some people make the mistake of trying to sound intelligent by using the “right” terms for thing. If your customer is using a different term respond in kind to them. Otherwise you might sound like you’re correcting their grammar. Obviously if you don’t understand what their saying you’ll have to ask them to elaborate but if you call it “pop” and they make a comment about your wide “soda” selection respond using their terminology. The point is to communicate as effectively as possible not to sound intellectual.

  2. Fridtjof Salomon

    I remember before everything was on the internet they used to say that word of mouth was the best way to market something. Sort of like ‘viral’ marketing now except I don’t think the term was used back then. If you can get customers talking and giving valuable feedback you’ve essentially got the power of ‘word of mouth’ but at without the limitations of physical person-to-person conversation.

  3. Yes2Freebies

    Shouldn’t you respond publicly though? So that other customers see that you take their concerns seriously?

    • Brian Sparker

      Yes, you should always reply publicly to aid in transparency and capture any SEO benefits from your comment.

  4. Hollaback Will

    Responding to every review (even if it is a bad one) is crucial. You must respond on time and if the review is bad, you need to explain why is it so. No business is run perfectly and you need to convince the possible future customers that this mistake was a one time only error. Also, by reading the negative reviews you will have a clear insight of what is wrong in you business, so try to correct those errors and there will be no further bad reviews.

  5. Sammy J

    You should be careful when using your customer’s language though. There are times when it might come off as mocking somebody’s way of speaking, not to the person themselves, but to other people reading your response.