Marketing and customer experience go hand in hand. While it hasn’t always been easy to see the relationship, an increase in consumers using user-generated content (often in the form of customer reviews) to make purchase decisions reveals a growing need for marketers to join the conversations happening online. Customer stories and conversations are happening across social media platforms and third-party review sites, and failure to join the conversation leaves holes in your marketing and customer experience strategies. Ownership of the customer experience requires discovery of and investment in engaging across any existing third-party spaces where consumers are sharing their stories. Acting now to connect marketing and customer experience impacts brands in several key areas, but it all boils down to customer feedback.
Taking action to connect your marketing strategies and customer experience efforts impacts brands in several key areas, but it all boils down to customer feedback.
Addressing customer feedback isn’t just about reputation management
I’m always hesitant to use the term “reputation management” when referring to protecting brand reputation. There’s so much more to reputation than just managing, which almost has a negative connotation as if it’s a daunting task. While it isn’t easy to handle customer feedback and protect brand reputation, it’s less about managing and more about using customer feedback to build a brand reputation marketers can use to amplify the positive impact of marketing efforts.
"It's less about managing [your reputation] and more about using customer feedback to build a brand reputation marketers can use to amplify the positive impact of marketing efforts."
Still, it’s not enough to wait for reviews coming in on third-party review sites. Proactive review collection efforts are a vital part of gathering more customer stories to show the full spectrum of customer experiences and remove some of the polarity marketers often face as they uncover company profiles on review sites. While we know review collection is necessary, marketers can face multiple obstacles depending on which review site their brands may be listed on:
1. Some review sites only allow organic reviews, and flag or filter reviews collected via brand efforts
2. Many review sites don't have the kind of filtering algorithms to truly protect brands from fake reviews
3. Those fake reviews may not always be removed, even if the brand can prove the reviews are not from verified customers
Some review collection tools allow brands to game the system, and consumes often sniff out and avoid the fakes
Investing in placement on third-party review sites with unbiased review collection tools and services is critical to building trust among consumers. ROI on review collection comes in the form of three distinct benefits: A trusted brand name, customer stories brands can use to market their products to new customers, and the data needed to pinpoint opportunities for improving on the customer experience. That last piece is where the real ROI exists…here’s why.
"Investing in placement on third-party review sites with unbiased review collection tools and services is critical to building trust among consumers."
Feedback plays a critical role in making customer experience improvements that matter
Just looking at the feedback from customers willing to reach out on their own isn’t enough to make real improvements. Reviews aren’t just a reputation management task to check off a list; they’re a customer insight resource brands can use to inform improvements in the customer experience. Many customer service teams are already working to analyze data gathered from the customer feedback they receive— the problem is, organic feedback tends to skew toward the negative since customer service teams are typically tasked with handling customer issues. While that data is valuable, there are even more insights to be gained from the silent majority of customers who don't leave reviews or provide feedback unprompted.
Satisfied customers are often eager to share their thoughts on how their own experiences could be improved -- you just have to ask them. Without listening to these stories, brands have limited insight on the trust state of their customer sentiment, and less ability to spot trends, systemic issues, and effectively predict customer needs. The improved experience leads to improved feedback, which ultimately helps marketers reach new customers who use organic search to research before buying. An added benefit of more feedback being collected and displayed across third-party review sites is the opportunity to upsell to happy customers and customers asking about better solutions for their needs.
It’s a cycle:
Reviews > Insight > Improvements > Happy Customers >
Better Rating > New Customers > More Revenue
You see where I’m going with this? Making smart decisions using customer feedback creates a crazy good opportunity to generate new streams of revenue using review sites — something often reviled by marketers faced with negative sentiment.
To get a free consultation on how to effectively connect marketing and customer experience, schedule a call with the ConsumerAffairs team today.
TL;DR Like it or not, marketing needs to own customer experience if they want to align marketing messages with customer stories and make a real impact with marketing spend. Feedback from customers is the core of this strategy. Marketers getting in on the action now will be ahead of the curve while others scramble to catch up. Review sites aren’t the enemy — they’re spaces where new streams of revenue can be generated, and it’s time to stop seeing feedback as something to be managed. Treat customer feedback as a data resource to help guide decision making to impact marketing, product and customer service. Customer experience is your most powerful marketing tool in organic search and beyond. Don’t pass up the chance to bridge the gap between customer experience and marketing.