By Rebati Adhikary
In business, customers are gods. The success of any business is propelled by the decision of the customer to use or not use a product or service. In recent times, social media has given more power and further impetus to customer feedback. If a business wants a success story, customers have to be their utmost priority. When customers are important, what they say also becomes decisive. But do all companies really hear them especially here in Nepal?
For Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, one of the leading hotels in the country, customer reviews are an invaluable source of information about guests, hotel and services it offers. They provide valuable insights on areas to improve and assist in retaining loyal guests, says Mohini Shrestha, Marketing Communications Manager of the hotel.
In every product segment, customers are presented with an array of choices. This puts them in catch 22 situations: which one to choose. When the market is flooded with advertisements and every company is blowing its trumpet, customers often turn to referrals or fellow customer suggestions. They believe more in what others like them have to say. Their feedback serves as an act of endorsement of the product.
Nikita Acharya, founder of UG Cakes and Urbangirl, says “customer reviews carry a lot of significance especially for us since we are in e-commerce. In fact customer feedbacks guides our business. The spontaneity of online business propels customers to use social media to write what they like and not. Bad reviews can have a negative impact on all our followers.”
Suraj Maharjan, PR Manager of Oppo Nepal says, “Being a customer oriented company, we take feedback very seriously. It is one of the major parts in our research and development process. We always tend to fulfill our customer needs and demands. Our products are co-developed with our customers, with customer feedback playing an enormous role in both hardware and software development.”
Customer reviews are also believed to aid in marketing because potential buyers read reviews which contribute to developing brand perception. Consumers, thereby, also become marketers. The review acts as a testimony or endorsement. IT is especially true when a customer is indecisive; they turn to peer reviews.
Customers behavior influences the scale of business with direct impact on sales. Acharya agrees that positive reviews aid in boosting sales because positive feedback begets positive results.
Reading reviews before purchasing the product applies especially to movie promotions and sales of electronic products. When online reviews were not available, word-of-mouth referral determined purchasing decisions.
Genuine feedback allows companies to focus and develop areas of improvement. Like the good reviews, bad ones are also equally important for both companies and consumers. Bad reviews should not be feared or ignored. Too much good and too much bad both are bad. Companies shouldn’t be alarmed outright when they receive bad reviews. If the bad reviews outweigh good then it can be alarming. Many companies attempt to silence negative comments which can be rather counterproductive because negative feedback puts up the credibility factor balancing with positive ones.
“Hyatt always listens, empathises, apologises, resolves and takes ownership on service issues, so that all of our guests feel welcomed. The guests we serve want to feel appreciated and cared for in their relationship with Hyatt, and this foundation of care comes from empathy.” says Shrestha.
Hyatt does acknowledge and research bad reviews internally. “However, any feedback, negative or positive, is an important medium for us in improving our service standards, because by listening and questioning we believe we can make a difference in the lives of our guests,” shares Shrestha. Shrestha thinks companies should not fear bad reviews and instead take them as constructive feedback. It is an opportunity to connect with guests on a personal level and retain their loyalty.
Acharya takes customer reviews as an opportunity to interact with customers. Whenever her business receives any negative feedback, they analyse it and attempt to turn it into a positive situation while also taking measures to resolve the issue.
Outlook towards customer feedback has witnessed a shift .Online surveys have become immensely popular. Every now and then, requests for online feedback pop up on the screen. The trend of ratings is also dominant on the social media platform. The higher the rating, the more the level of trust in the product. “We tend to gather our customers reviews via different platforms. Amongst them, direct reviews, reviews gathered through our social media platforms are major ones. We tend to reply to maximum queries and reviews we gather. At OPPO we believe that true innovation is all about changing, renewing and creating more effective products that make life simpler,” concludes Maharjan.