The slogan, “The customer is always right” has become more controversial, but for the right reasons, especially when used in the service industry. This is because it allows customers to mistreat and extort the service staff in a bid to ensure they leave a business premise satisfied.
However, this is not the case with products. If it were, online marketplaces would not have a section for posting reviews and rating a seller or their products. In fact, reviews are so crucial that they guide or influence future purchases. 2 surveys, one by Nielsen and the other by Fan & Fuel, demonstrated this.
What Customer Reviews Mean for Businesses
According to Nielsen’s survey, 73% of customers decide whether to buy a product by checking the reviews. Further, Fan & Fuel established that 92% of customers hesitate to purchase when reviews are not available.
Just like customer reviews are essential to customers, sellers should also hold them with high regard.
The feedback provided could act as a template for improving the product or service. Improved products and services are guaranteed to bring in more customers due to the positive reviews. More customers will translate to increased revenue.
Also, engaging customers through their feedback and reviews is a surefire way of promoting brand loyalty and enhancing your business’s reputation as they feel cared for and seen.
Nonetheless, the existence of so many platforms on which customers can post reviews can become troublesome when tracking the posts. This is why information to guide the tracking process is essential. This article illuminates the fundamental elements, thereby informing you of what you should know when tracking customer reviews.
What is review monitoring?
Review monitoring entails searching for and extracting information containing customer reviews and feedback from websites. It is a subcategory of web scraping (web scraping refers to harvesting data from websites). In this regard, when the data extracted is customer reviews and ratings, the process is referred to as review monitoring.
Being a subset of web scraping, review monitoring is carried out using scraping applications or bots. Alternatively, you could elect to do it manually, but it would be a time-consuming adventure. Furthermore, you’re more likely to miss multiple reviews if you choose the manual route.
This is why the use of automatic review monitoring tools is ideal. After all, there are hundreds of sites on which customers can post reviews or feedback, and reaching all of these sites, i.e., social media platforms, review sites, and e-commerce websites, manually is not feasible.
Automatic review monitoring tools/scraping bots do more than just finding the information you require. For one, they convert it into a structured format and save it as a .csv file or spreadsheet. After that, all you need to do is download the file, and voila, you have access to thousands of reviews. Secondly, some review monitoring providers analyze the data on your behalf and summarize it using charts. In this regard, visualizing the information becomes effortless.
Thanks to review monitoring, you can experience the benefits of customer reviews detailed above. However, it is not as easy as it may sound.
Challenges Impeding Review Monitoring
As mentioned, review monitoring falls within the broader concept of web scraping. Scraping bots make several requests over a short period as they aim to trigger as many responses from web servers as possible. This is because they analyze one webpage at a time.
However, making numerous requests per website influences the website to flag the activities emanating from the computer as suspicious. Continued requests lead to IP blocking.
Usually, websites/web servers block IP addresses. The web data extraction strains the web servers, not to mention that it leads to access to information that can help competitors gain a market advantage.
Nonetheless, though useful as a deterrent to web scraping, IP blocking does not stop data extraction in its entirety. This is because proxy servers can be deployed to prevent it.
Use of Proxies in Review Monitoring
Proxy servers are intermediaries that route web requests through themselves and assign each of them a new IP address (rotating proxies using the rotating IP address sessions). Alternatively, other types that are still ideal for web scraping give a unique IP address after some time (those using sticky IP address sessions).
Proxy servers cut off direct communication between a computer and a web server. They also give a new identity to the computer on which the web scraping application is installed. Thus, any request originating from the computer appears to be coming from the web server.
Notably, the proxy server changes the IP addresses regularly, making the web server interpret the requests as those coming from many different devices. As such, this setup prevents it from blocking the IP addresses.
Simply put, proxy servers facilitate smooth review monitoring and web scraping.