Why you shouldn’t just rely on Social Reviews when listening to customer feedback

Essential customer feedback terminology

Social Review – a generic term for a review of a business that is published online and is accessible on the web for anyone to view. Social reviews typically use a 1-5 star rating and allow the consumer to add text to support the rating they leave.

Social Review Channels – there are 3 main channels for UK hospitality: Google, Tripadvisor and Facebook. However, there are other smaller channels that also gather reviews such as Opentable and Design My Night. Google have the largest share of reviews looking at the number of reviews tracked via Feed It Back. Facebook rating structure is different to the rest of the channels and ask for a recommendation with a thumbs up or down.

Survey – Also sometimes referred to as questionnaire or feedback form. This is a structured approach to gathering customer feedback and allows for a business to ask specific questions to the customer. This may or may not include an NPS question.

Unstructured feedback – these are also known as complaints and compliments and these can be received in many ways; through direct emails to a business, via ‘contact us forms’ from a business’s website or through manual entry into a Case Management system.

Unstructured vs structured

With structured feedback like a survey, businesses can be specific about what they want to measure. The survey can be as long or as short as they would like. A good survey should be relevant and engaging and should ensure the whole experience is questioned so the business can make the most of the data.

Reviews and unstructured feedback forms do not have the ability to be specific. It’s simply a blank canvass for a consumer to write what they want. When analysing social review comments from hospitality operators, we can see they are frequently very generic. “the food was cold” and “service was slow”. What dish was cold and when was the service slow? This context and detail behind the review is missing but it’s this detail that can really make the difference to driving operational improvements.

Trusted data

The web is full of professional reviewers. For a fee, you can get paid fake reviews on your Tripadvisor or Google page. Whilst that might help you boost up your online reputation, is that helping you improve your business? Absolutely not, you are only cheating yourself if you go down this route. And guess what if you do attract new customers in through these fake reviews, you are only going to lose them once the experience does not live up to the expectation set with these fake reviews.

At Feed It Back, we work with clients to ensure their survey feedback comes from a trusted source. This is often in conjunction with our CRM partners, using a proof presence source such as a booking or wifi login to prompt for feedback.

Team performance monitoring, think again

Businesses might use social reviews as a way of getting team shout outs and some even embed this into their employee rewards programme. A word of caution here, review channels such as Tripadvisor will flag and exclude reviews if they repeatedly display team member names as they believe this is due to incentivising team members to push for positive reviews and / or potential staff fraud. By gathering positive feedback privately via a survey you can truly measure how your team are performing.

Loyal customers just want you to do better

If a customer has bad experience, as an operator your first port of call is always to recover them whilst still in venue. If this has not been possible and their only way to tell you about their experience is to share a public review, you’ve lost the opportunity to recover that customer privately.  Give your customers clear channels to give private feedback.

Your loyal guests don’t want to slate you in the public domain, they just want you to do better so they can continue to visit you and have a great time. Giving them a private option to contact you keeps the negativity off social reviews and gives you the opportunity to really asses their visit.

Listen calmly and act

By truly listening to all forms of customer feedback you can get the volume of data and quality of data that is needed to drive your business forward. Receiving negative feedback is never easy but take a breath and approach any negative feedback calmly. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and appraise your own performance as an operator to question, was it really good enough? Lastly, take action. If you don’t then what is the point of gathering and listening to all the feedback?!