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We all remember those massive notebooks where guests and customers would leave their impressions and comments based on their experience when they’d visit a store or stay in a hotel. They were seen almost exclusively by the staff of the store/hotel in question, or by other visitors at best, when they took a moment to compare what others have experienced in the very same place. Today – it’s all out in the open. Brands not only receive, but they encourage regular feedback from their customers and audience online, both in the form of public social media reviews and email and website surveys to help them gather their customers’ impressions.

All of these intricate, nuanced efforts have a common goal: better customer experience. This is why obtaining and analyzing social media reviews has become a standard practice among growing business from all industries. Social media is the final frontier when it comes to making a meaningful impact through feedback. It also matters for establishing a more personal bond with each and every customer, and earning information that will ultimately improve your brand image.

In case you are in the early stages of collecting and using social media reviews, here are a few improvements you can expect in your customer experience if you use the data to your advantage. Use these tips to make changes and benefit your audience.

Creating context for future customers

When you’re looking to buy a new pair of sneakers, or you don’t have a preferred cleaning supply brand but you need a reliable product – where do you go? Social media is the most likely response. In fact, 91% of 18-34-year-olds will rely on a review they find online as much as they trust a personal recommendation when it comes to trying new products or services. This relates to qualitative reviews on social media and sites like G2Crowd, as well as NPS scores brands share with the general audience. We’re wired to trust real customers more than pure branding or marketing. Hence, we’re unlikely to trust a brand with no reviews at all.

In essence, these numbers and behavioral preferences point to one key benefit of asking for reviews. Namely, providing a real-life context for potential customers when they’re considering using your product or service. User-generated content in the form of reviews allows them a real insight into how your brand affects other people. This way, they can make an informed decision as to whether or not you’d make a good match for their needs. Your responses to those reviews are another great pointer as well!

Improving your brand offers

Your brand name and services are likely mentioned across a wide range of social channels every day, in different situations and in different contexts. Not all of those reviews appear on your own social media channels and you could potentially miss them if you don’t keep an eye on your social presence. To be more precise, using social mention monitoring as a tool to detect when your brand is mentioned across social channels helps you discover what people think of your brand even outside of direct reviews.

That alone can help you address any customer pain points, respond to negative criticism, apologize, make amends, find a way to rekindle that customer’s love for your brand, or simply express gratitude for a positive comment regarding your services. The data you can collect with the help of social listening can complement your other review sources.  It can also help you improve your brand offers.

When your customers know that you’ve done your best to provide a better service, they’ll appreciate the effort. Whether you simplify your checkout, change your shipping policy, or add a more detailed FAQ page – notify your customers when you act on their feedback and they’ll love you for it.

Protecting your reputation

Sometimes, disgruntled customers may use social media channels to vent. We’ve all been there. However, this is just another quality brands share with humans: they are fallible. Your customers’ expectations, on the other hand, can often be unreasonable, idealistic, and frequently based on a previous spotless experience. When you encounter a negative outburst on social media that targets your brand, you should perceive it as an opportunity. Don’t view it as a disaster – unless it truly is, in which case you need that crisis management plan to kick in.

Use this chance to express that you understand where your customer is coming from. Try to mitigate the issue, offer a constructive solution, and do your best to truly deliver on your promise. Perhaps, that customer is not going to be a source of repeat business for your brand, even after your finest efforts. Nevertheless, you will get the chance to share your take on the situation and make sure that future customers understand that you own up to your failings as much as your success. That is something every human can relate to.

Show your customers appreciation

If anything is as desirable as freebies from a customer’s point of view, it’s knowing that they are appreciated. Social media reviews, especially positive ones, are a great chance for you to connect on a deeper level with your customers. It also lets you thank them sincerely for their feedback. If they keep coming back for more of your products, why not even send them a personalized thank-you note from the owner? Or a discount as a token of gratitude for a frequent buyer?

When you take the time to respond to reviews, and even ask for them to begin with – it exemplifies your brand’s willingness to change for the better, and opinions into account. Let your clients know that they are the ones building your brand, and have a say in how you run your business. In the end, they’ll likely eagerly come back for more.

Continuously upgrading your customer experience is one of the most vital segments of running a business. Social media reviews you receive via those platforms are by far the most effective way to achieve this goal. Hence, make sure you use them wisely and reap the rewards so that your brand can grow.