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How Start-Ups Can Leverage Competitors’ Customer Reviews

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Receiving a negative customer review can seem devastating for a small business or start-up. But if utilised properly, a negative review can be part of a learning curve and contribute to constructive feedback and input in the long run.

More businesses than ever are using independent consumer review systems to analyse the UGC (user generated content) provided by customers. However, businesses can always learn a thing or two from competitors’ publicly available reviews too.

A customer experience trends report by customer reviews experts Feefo, has predicted the sector trends for 2022 – and they’ll be influenced significantly by the usage of customer data. With the upcoming elimination of third-party cookies, businesses may be forced to use first-party data they generate themselves to inform their online customer experience. Reviews can have a major effect on this data and help shape a business’s future direction.

But how can a competitor’s reviews be leveraged by start-ups? Start-ups operate in an often uncertain and rapidly changing market. They frequently break down barriers and innovate in ways that more established firms may not. The more information they have on their competitors, the better – but this is not often easily accessible or forthcoming in volatile and rapidly changing markets.

Learning from reviews

If a competitor has a reviews platform – open or closed, third party or internal – then there is a great deal that can be learnt from this feedback.

Firstly, if their consumer reviews are being posted on a site or channel that doesn’t allow any behind-the-scenes analysis or insights work to be carried out, then it can be assumed that they are not using their reviews to build intelligence or to inform business development planning.

Although there are other channels of consumer input that they may consider important in these areas, insights from reviews would need to be manually collated and analysed – a demanding and resource-heavy task.

The true value of reviews left for competitors can be derived from their content and not necessarily the baseline star rating (if such a system is applicable). What customers deem worthy of praise should be evaluated. Is the competitor providing a differentiated or better service? Are the products perceived to deliver better value? Is the competitor offering something extra that consumers really appreciate?

Where there are issues or concerns, learning can be derived from what is noted as lacking. If a competitor is not adequately meeting customer expectations or failing to fulfil customers’ requirements, then these are areas where another business can step up to meet these needs and secure the purchase.

What may be most valuable, however, is what isn’t being said by those writing the reviews. If there is a gap in the market, another organisation can move to occupy it. Clever analysis and a good understanding of the target audience can help identify needs that competitors simply aren’t anticipating.

Understanding competitor performance

NPS (net promoter score) is a widely used tool among customer-facing organisations to understand customer advocacy based on the likelihood of consumers recommending a brand.

While respecting data privacy, many providers of customer behavioural analysis based on reviews offer indications of the scores obtained by businesses in similar fields or industries. Assuming competitors are scoring the average for their industry, a tool like this can provide a baseline figure from which to work.

The bottom line

Business intelligence can be gained everywhere – from a business’s own data as well as whatever is publicly available from competitors. The critical element is using it in a smart way. Done well, it can inform and influence meeting customer needs in ways that other businesses simply overlook.


Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

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