A rising number of consumers are looking toward online reviews to help them decide what products, services, and companies to spend their money on. This means that businesses are now scrambling, dedicating resources toward establishing a positive online presence.
How do consumers use reviews to make decisions and what practices can your business follow to receive those positive reviews and boost your reputation?
Online Review Growth
- Consumers’ reliance on online reviews has been growing rapidly
- Online reviews help finalize a consumer’s decision
- Businesses need to create a strategy to receive reviews
- Businesses need to manage their online reputation
The data suggests that the number of consumers relying on online reviews to determine who to give their business to is steadily increasing by more than 5% each year. As of 2015, 88% of consumers are looking at reviews before formulating an opinion and the odds are that this percentage will only increase over the next few years.
This increase has led to the rise of review based websites such as TripAdvisor or Yelp, and is a major part of the reason companies like Amazon have been so successful. Businesses have been trying to find ways to build reviews into the customer experience so that they can draw even more customers to their products and services.
Consumers Trust Online Reviews
The truth is that not only are consumers checking out online reviews, but also 67% of them are reading 6 or less reviews before making a decision according to a survey carried out by BrightLocal. If you’re a business that has created a reputation for good customer service, this is excellent news! However, this statistic also suggests that bad reviews can be severely detrimental to your online reputation.
Another survey by BrightLocal suggests that more than 80% of consumers are trusting reviews as much as they would trust a friend’s recommendation. Word of mouth used to be pretty much the only thing that mattered when it came to establishing a positive reputation for a company, but not the game has changed. Potential customers are checking out your online presence before they decide to spend their money with you, and if they don’t like what they see after a couple reviews, they will write your business off as an option.
Receiving Review Strategy
Because of these shifts in how the consumer thinks and what they use to make their choices, businesses need to be proactive in strategizing. You need to recognize that your online presence can have a profound impact on the success of your business, especially if it is a newly established company. Older companies that have built up a history of excellent customer service and products won’t be as affected by reviews, but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t invest in a review acquisition plan.
It is important to connect with review platforms to offer customers a place or multiple places to leave reviews on your product or services. Once you’ve done that, make sure you create opportunities for your customers to review your work. It is essential to provide a simple and easy way for people to leave reviews, otherwise they might forget or decide it isn’t worth their time.
There is nothing wrong with trying to incentivize clients to leave reviews. Create a drawing for customers who left reviews to receive discounts or gift cards. This not only gets you reviews, but indicates to the client that you think their opinion is important and that you appreciate their business.
Managing Online Reputation
If might think that once you establish your review receiving strategy your work is done. This cannot be further from the truth. Customers are far more likely to take the time to leave your business a bad review over a positive one. While being a problem, a bad review is also an opportunity.
Invest some time and money into addressing the concerns and critical remarks of reviewers. It is important to show them that despite their bad experience, your business is willing to go the extra mile to right whatever wrongdoing took place (even if it wasn’t your fault). Posting a question of how you can fix a problem with a bad reviewer will show others that even though you made a mistake, you’re willing to own up to it.
That alone can be the extra motivation a potential client needs in order to choose your business over another company.
Whatever business you may be trying to start, revive, or maintain in excellent standing, don’t ignore the importance of positive online reviews. Since customers are increasingly trusting reviews to inform their decisions, a large number of 5 star ratings can be the key toward building up your clientele and letting the world how great your products and services really are.
Author: Eric Welke is a Cofounder and the President of RenegadeWorks. RenegadeWorks provides online reputation management software and referral marketing software for small businesses. Eric is passionate about helping businesses succeed in an ever-changing digital world. Follow Eric and the RenegadeWorks team on Twitter @ RenegadeWorks