From the Horse’s Mouth – Harvesting Audience Insight from Online Reviews

Even the most successful organisations will have both brand advocates and brand detractors. This is true across all sectors, not just in the leisure and hospitality industries where reviews reflecting guest experiences can have a significant impact on brand perceptions.

The proliferation of online mechanisms for collecting feedback has led to reviews becoming an integral part of the customer journey, with many organisations actively soliciting them (and some even faking them!). The performance of public sector organisations is subject to scrutiny equally as much as that of retail businesses, particularly at a time when both interest in, and mistrust of, politics is at a high level. Similarly, online ratings allow students to evaluate university and college options, as well as providing a mechanism for employees to give feedback on their experiences in the workplace.

Tribe has significant experience of gathering and analysing online reviews from consumers and service users. For example, we collected several years’ worth of data from reviews of a tourist attraction in Ireland to provide its operator with strategic insights ahead of a scheduled redevelopment. Another project asked us to compare reviews of a national restaurant chain compared to its major competitors and advise on how to increase the volume and positivity of customer feedback.

We’ve worked with FMCG, retail and manufacturing businesses to understand consumer usage and attitudes to specific ranges, products and services. We’ve helped recruiters gain insights into how employer brands are impacted by the comments employees leave in online forums. We’ve provided insights that allow organisations to improve the quality and appeal of their apprenticeships and graduate placements; the resonance and impact of their brand communications; and the efficiency, effectiveness and fairness of their customer complaints procedures.  Our ability to turn qualitative reaction from online reviews and other sources into quantitative analysis provides a valuable contribution to strategic, audience-centric decision-making.

Reviews analysis is particularly powerful if it is combined with other qualitative and quantitative insights, to provide a more rounded assessment of customer opinion. For example, we might piece together the results of reviews analysis with some qualitative insights gleaned from our Audience Closeness programmes, to provide a depth of understanding on the views of a particular audience segment. Or we might combine the data with Qualimetric analysis of social media content, which also converts unstructured text comments into statistically valid quantitative insights.

The beauty of online reviews, like social media data, is that they are spontaneous and unmediated, rather than prompted by a specific question. They allow us to put ourselves and client teams in the shoes of the audience and see things from their perspective. Wherever they fall on the emotional spectrum – from Happiness to Contempt – reviews give us a regular source of feedback that fits alongside brand and reputation tracking to build a more complete picture of what the audience really cares about.

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