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Why Your Business Needs to Pay Attention to Consumer Feedback A study of more than 11 million consumer conversations online takes a close look at how people review and purchase products online -- and how user-generated reviews can affect your own brand or business.

By Mikal E. Belicove

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Why Your Business Needs to Pay Attention to Consumer Feedback

Knowing what customers find important and how they want to interact with a brand is important to any business's success. A new study encourages brands to take note of what consumers think is necessary in order to improve a product or service and then make the changes that will satisfy shoppers.

Here are five suggestions from the "Conversation Index" released by Bazaarvoice, a Texas-based company best known for its ratings and reviews software. The tips are garnered from the millions of pieces of user-generated content from online reviews:

Brick-and-mortar shoppers still engage online: Since a reported 70 percent of shoppers say they use their smartphones while in your store, find a way to obtain these shoppers' email addresses. Ask for online feedback from face-to-face customers, and by any means necessary, offer free Wi-Fi at your business locations.

The "Closed" sign becomes extinct: At least half of online shopping takes place after hours, with the iPad being the main culprit in this change of habit. That means you should remain engaged every hour of every day. You need to have customer support, chat, tweets, and Facebook posts available 24/7 if you expect to deliver "overnight results."

Related: Six Tips for Mobile Marketing to Engage Customers

It's not all about shopping: Your Facebook Page (and to some degree, even your website) is not the place for the hard sell. Visitors are perfectly content to have you offer them social experiences that lead to loyalty. Build social features into your website that make it easy for visitors to share with others without leaving your realm. By doing so, you'll find product opinions — contributed to your site and then cross-shared on Facebook through a tool like Facebook Comments — have a higher satisfaction rating from consumers.

Welcome any and all constructive suggestions: The Bazaarvoice study shows that even the most glowing product reviews contain suggestions for improvements, meaning you absolutely have to pay close attention to all feedback. In fact, according to the study, 20 percent of four-star product reviews include recommendations on what consumers feel would turn that item or experience into a five-star product or service.

Pay close attention to consumer Q&As: Besides product reviews, consumer content often contains questions about products. Be sure to answer these questions, then consider updates to your product descriptions, or offer how-to videos to assist future consumers.

How do you use customer feedback online to improve your business? Let us know in the comments below.

Related: How to Handle Negative Online Reviews of Your Business

Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. 

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