Professionals in customer experience (CX), customer insight, marketing, and branding all value and seek customer feedback, but often each group have their own preferred tools. Historically, the most common tool for this form of market research is the customer survey; however, online reviews are increasingly used to provide a different view or accomplish different objectives. Which one is more reliable?
The reliabilty of customer reviews and surveys depends on various factors, and it’s essential to consider their strengths and limitations. Here are some points to consider:
Customer reviews are often perceived as more authentic and genuine since they are typically written by individuals who have purchased and used a product or service.The firsthand experiences shared in reviews can provide valuable insights into real customer experiences. However, it’s important to note that some reviews can be biased, manipulated, or even fake, so it’s crucial to apply critical thinking and consider the overall sentiment and patterns across multiple reviews.
2. Sample Size
Surveys generally allow for a larger sample size, as they can reach a wider audience. With a larger sample, survey results can provide a more representative picture of customer opinions and preferences. On the other hand, customer reviews may not represent the entire customer base and might only reflect the views of those who actively choose to leave a review.
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3. Control and Structured Questions
Surveys offer the advantage of structured questions, allowing businesses to control and define the specific information they seek. This structured approach enables gathering targeted and consistent data across respondents, making it easier to analyze and compare results. Customer reviews, on the other hand, provide unstructured feedback, which can be valuable for identifying unexpected insights but may require more effort to analyze and categorize.
4. Detailed and Instructive Feedback
Customer reviews often provide detailed, specific feedback about a particular product or service. These specifics can offer valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of a brand. Surveys, with their structured questions, can also provide specific feedback, especially when designed to capture detailed responses. However, they might not delve into specific aspects or features as deeply as a customer review.
5. Understanding of Context
Surveys typically provide an opportunity to collect additional demographic or contextual information about respondents, enabling businesses to understand customer preferences and behaviors in a broader context. This contextual information may help in segmenting and analyzing data to derive meaningful insights. Customer reviews, although lacking structured contextual data, can still offer insights through the analysis of sentiments, common themes, and language used by customers.
Both customer reviews and surveys have their strengths and limitations when it comes to reliability. Customer reviews provide authentic, firsthand experiences, but their representativeness and potential biasess should be considered. Surveys offer larger sample sizes and allow for controlled questioning, but they may lack the depth and specificity of individual customer reviews. Ideally, combining and triangulating data from multiple sources, including customer reviews, surveys, and focus groups can provide a more comprehensive and reliable understanding of customer opinions and preferences.
This can be quite costly and highly involved because it requires different workflows and methodologies. For large sample sizes, surveys can be expensive because respondents have to be contacted and paid to complete the questionnaire. If cost is an issue, then customer reviews are a better starting point because they are far more cost-effective to extract and analyze. Online reviews such as those on Google My Business, Yelp, Trip Advisor, provide the best of both worlds in numerical ratings and verbal comments because the latter is often omitted or overlooked in surveys.
Check our ‘About BrandTrack’ page to understand how we extract maximum insight from customer reviews by analyzing ratings and comments. Better yet, check out our sample BrandTrack dashboard here to see it in action.