Online reputation is simply that, it’s the company’s image online. It’s a measurement of the company’s reputation on the Internet and is, therefore, the image that Internet users have of the company. I’m talking here about the image that the company portrays, not what it actually is.
I like to compare a company’s online reputation to a store window. A store window doesn’t always represent what you’ll find inside. Who hasn’t come across a store that doesn’t look like much on the outside, that doesn’t have a very attractive window display, and yet turns out to be a little gem? On the other hand, we can fall in love with a beautiful window display before realizing that the interior of the store is not very extraordinary.
Online reputation is an unavoidable subject that is increasingly influencing consumers. Thus, when making a purchase, 96% of French Internet users are influenced by the brand’s online reputation, and 39% of visitors decide not to purchase after reading a negative review on the Internet.
While the image that your hotel projects on the Internet is indeed essential, this should not be confused with analyzing customer satisfaction.
Analyzing customer satisfaction
In this case, you’re no longer standing in front of the window, you’re entering the store. Customer satisfaction is not just about appearances; it’s an indicator of how satisfied customers are with a product, a service or an experience.
The purpose of customer satisfaction analysis is to find out what’s wrong with your establishment by directly asking your customers, in order to remedy the situation as soon as possible, before it appears on the Internet.
To find out what customers really think of your hotel, you need to rely on your own satisfaction surveys. You can also consider the surveys conducted by companies such as Booking or Expedia that submit surveys to 100% of their customers and which therefore reflect a majority of reviews.
Customer satisfaction analysis and online reputation: two indicators that should not be mixed
Contrary to what many may think, online reputation and customer satisfaction cannot be analyzed together. It’s simply not a good idea to do so.
Let’s go back to the metaphor of the shop window: when you walk by the window, it looks super stylish, has a nice display and offers tempting promotions. However, when you go inside, the clothes are not arranged very well; you can’t find your size; it’s too hot in the store; the line at the dressing room is too long; etc.
Mixing your online reputation and your customer satisfaction would be like mixing how your customers feel when they’re in front of the window and how they feel when they’re inside the store. You can get a correct average, but it will mean absolutely nothing and it won’t represent reality.
It’s therefore essential to separate the two results and to make a clear distinction between reality and your establishment’s image on the Internet.
Your online reputation does not represent reality
Your online reputation is not an indicator of reality.It really depends a lot on the good faith of those who are rating your establishment.
On Tripadvisor, for example, there are two types of comments: those who love us and those who hate us. The latter are often angry comments and are not always made in good faith.
And let’s not forget the “natural born unsatisfied,” who represent about 2.5% of the population. These people feel obliged to leave negative comments, which distorts your online reputation scores.
The comments you receive will therefore be either very positive and/or very negative points of view, but will not be a true perception of reality.
Moreover, analyzing and dissecting the comments on Tripadvisor can be difficult. The reviews left by Internet users are often very condensed blocks of text, from which it will be difficult to get precise information on the different criteria of your establishment.
I’ll give you a more concrete example: if you ask four customers who were very happy with their stay to leave you a good review, you’ll get four 5/5 ratings on Tripadvisor.
Along with that, on a satisfaction survey, you’ll receive a rating of 2/5. If you calculate your average, you’ll get a score of 4.4/5, which is not too bad.
But if you only consider this average, you probably won’t know why the customer gave you a 2/5, and that will prevent you from analyzing their feedback and remedying a potential underlying problem.
So, it would be a mistake to analyze these two indicators together. It’s important to distinguish image (online reputation) from reality (customer satisfaction).
Sentiment analysis: a nuanced technique
Sentiment analysis (or opinion mining) is used to study the subjective information contained in the comments in order to classify them as positive, negative or neutral.
Sentiment analysis is a process, often automated, that allows you to analyze large volumes of customer reviews, in order to identify the terms that are frequently used and to identify trends. This makes it possible to categorize the areas of the customer experience that are addressed in the reviews, and to determine which areas are rated favorably and which are rated unfavorably.
To be able to implement this process, you need many, many reviews and comments, that is, thousands of words.
If I search for the Number 1 ranked hotel by travelers on Tripadvisor in New York City, I come across the Arlo NoMad, which has had 1,648 reviews since November 2016. There were 1,648 reviews in 53 months, which gives us an average of 30 reviews per month, or one per day.
So, in order to do a sentiment analysis based on its Tripadvisor reviews, the Arlo NoMad hotel will have to wait six to seven months before it can observe any trends. This means that the hotel will become aware of its problems six to seven months too late.
For the independent hotel industry, this system takes too long to produce any useful results and it does not allow for immediate action.
I’m not throwing sentiment analysis in the trash, not at all. It’s an interesting process that can give you insights into several months of activity and can inform you about your competitors’ trends. However, this is not useful information about the everyday operation of your establishment.
On the other hand, if you do surveys on your own customers, you’ll get a lot of content very quickly; and it will allow you to really segment your customer base. You’ll be able to cross-reference the data you’ve collected, in order to identify trends, the problem areas in your establishment, the where, when, with whom, why, etc.
How can you link online reputation and customer satisfaction, without mixing them?
Although customer satisfaction analysis and online reputation are two very distinct indicators, they are nevertheless linked. We know that on average, satisfied customers will talk about their experience to two people and will promote your hotel, thus improving your online reputation. But how many people will dissatisfied customers share their experience with?
Getting direct feedback from customers is therefore a real challenge. The goal is to get feedback from customers, so they can express their dissatisfaction directly to you, and you can remedy the problem immediately, even before it can impact your establishment’s online reputation.
In addition, with a good analysis of your customer satisfaction, you can improve your establishment’s negative points and thereby improve customer experience while preventing unfavorable comments.
Knowing how to analyze your customer satisfaction will then benefit your online reputation.
Secondly, a nice online reputation, like a nice store window, will attract people, allowing you to collect even more customer experiences.
It’s important to understand that online reputation is only a marketing score, representing the image that people have of your establishment, but you should also understand that it does not reflect reality. You can have perfect customer satisfaction and a catastrophic online reputation, and vice versa.
You need to know how to separate the two and make the most of each for the benefit of your establishment.
Thank you for reading.