Utility Week

UTILITY Week 10th June 2016

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

Issue link: https://fhpublishing.uberflip.com/i/689907

Contents of this Issue


Page 27 of 31

28 | 10TH - 16TH JUNE 2016 | UTILITY WEEK Customers Market view N othing quite splits a group of senior managers and heats up a discussion like the question "should we encour- age customers to post reviews about their experience of us in public?". Enabling customers to air their views about you publicly is a real "knicker show- ing" exercise and you need to be prepared. Nothing focuses the minds of senior manag- ers more. This transparency does have the desirable effect of speeding up change and improvements internally. Generic review sites include Trust Pilot, Feefo, Reevoo, Yelp, Google Reviews and many more. But there are also a growing number of industry-specific sites such as the original Trip Advisor, Trusted Trader and The Review Place. As a senior manager, it can be frustrat- ing and downright scary to open yourselves up to customer critique and have those mes- sages shared with an audience you have absolutely no control over. You might well wish review sites would just go away, but they won't. Playing the ostrich won't help – it just means customers are out there talking about you, good or bad, having an impact on your business but you are not seeing it and other customers are not seeing you respond to it. There is a strong argument that says it is better to get out there and join in the conver- sation, correcting any false information, put- ting right anything that has gone wrong and impressing prospective customers with your approach to dealing with problems. Prospective customers are a pretty savvy bunch. They read a selection of reviews and take a balanced view. If the majority are poor, it is true they are unlikely to come to you. If the majority are good, they probably will consider you. If the majority are good and you have taken the time to address them really well, they will certainly consider you. If the vast majority of your reviews are excep- tional, you will clean up. They are also pretty savvy about evalu- ating the number of reviews – few people would trust a 5-star single review on Amazon – it is too likely that the seller was behind the content. But several good reviews engen- der a lot of confidence and are a powerful influence in driving customers to purchase. You have nothing to fear from the occa- sional negative review – unless exceptionally extreme, that will not force any business to put up the closed sign. Unless, of course, it is the only review out there. This is one reason why you might want to actively encourage your customers to review you online, dilut- ing the odd negative post and balancing up the perception of being good overall. Organisations that do not actively encour- age customers to leave reviews somewhere, either on their own website or on a review site, run the risk that only customers with extreme feelings one way or the other will post reviews that air in public. Take John Lewis as an example, well known for being exceptional when it comes to customer experience – it performs highly in every benchmarking exercise I have ever seen. On Trust Pilot, however, they are rated Bad – 1.5 out of 10. John Lewis does not sub- scribe to Trust Pilot, so it is not pushing cus- tomers there. Customers with extreme views one way or the other are choosing to go there and post reviews. Naturally, those custom- ers most motivated to publicly share their view on an experience tend to be the most disgruntled. Amazon, which also does not subscribe to Trust Pilot, is rated average with 5.3 out of 10. It too scores very highly in published surveys where the views of a cross-section of customers are canvassed, rather than just the extremes. Wiggle, on the other hand, is an active subscriber, encouraging its customers to review the company on Trust Pilot. Its reviews rate it as excellent, with 9.2 out of 10, and a spread of scores more in line with what you would expect for an organisation that we know delivers great customer expe- rience. Boohoo is rated very good at 7.5 out of 10, with a spread of scores reflective of the experience it delivers. When it comes to review sites, it is gen- erally better for you to be in than out, actively encouraging your customers to post reviews. And if you cannot be in (you will not want to subscribe to everything), at least be there listening and learning from the reviews and wherever possible, responding constructively. Nicola Eaton Sawford, managing director, Customerwhisperers.com, and co-author of The Nature of Customer Experience The more reviews the better You can't stop websites carrying reviews of your company, even if some are borderline scurrilous, but you can dilute them with reviews from satisfied customers, says Nicola Eaton Sawford. Top Tips • Be open and transparent. Create or sub- scribe to a forum where your customers can post reviews. • Actively encourage all your customers to post reviews in your chosen places, so the view out in public is a truer and fairer reflection of the customer experience you provide in reality. • Consider the big generic review sites and any industry-specific sites that are relevant. Ultimately, be guided by where your customers go to review you or to find reviews about you. • Whether you subscribe or not, monitor several review sites and quickly respond to posts. At the very least respond to negative posts with a strong, empathetic response and a brilliant solution. If you can, acknowledge the positive posts too with a short personal message. • Make sure you have a mechanism for learning from review site insight. It is really valuable. • If you are not going to subscribe to any, accept that the customer experience sto- ries about you on review sites will mainly be the abominable and sometimes the amazing. "Encourage all customers to leave reviews or risk that only customers with extreme feelings will"

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Utility Week - UTILITY Week 10th June 2016