According to research from Bright Local, 92% of consumers now read and trust online reviews for local businesses. Online reviews are an essential aspect of reputation management, and play a key role in determining how prospective customers will regard you when they discover your business online. Public opinion is more important than ever, and there’s a lot more of it. In the UK, complaints about businesses in social media nearly doubled between 2014 and 2015.
In fact, customer reviews are now viewed as the most influential tool for acquiring new customers online because they play such a key role in the decision-making process. The fact of the matter is, potential customers are really not tuned into the claims that you make about your business. Instead, they seek out what your previous customers have to say about their experience of shopping with you. Lots of positive reviews about your business is regarded as compelling social proof of the quality of your customer service, and this will play a key role in your prospects converting on your business goals.
With online ratings and reviews having so much influence over customer behavior, it is advantageous to have an effective strategy for collecting lots of positive reviews for your business on your website. However, keep in mind that although it is important to have reviews on your site, they may not be as influential with potential customers due to the fact that they can be controlled by you.
From the perspective of the customer, what’s to stop you from keeping all or most of the bad reviews hidden? Consumers want to read unbiased testimonials from your previous customers, and they want to read those reviews on an independent review website over which you have no control. This is the main reason why review sites are so powerful and influential today, because they can determine whether or not a prospect becomes a customer.
Many users leverage these platforms to leave reviews, and you should make it a priority to monitor negative reviews of your business on these sites. This is because many of your potential customers may read any of these negative reviews and form an opinion of your business based on these reviews. If the reviews are bad enough, this can potentially damage your online reputation overnight.
Why are online reviews so critically important for your business?
According to Moz, 67% of consumers have made purchasing decisions based on the online reviews they read about local businesses. In addition, the research from Bright Local alluded to earlier, found that:
- 84% of consumers regard customer online reviews in the same way as a personal recommendation
- 54% of consumers have visited a website after reading positive reviews.
- 73% of customers view online customer testimonials that were made more than 3 months as irrelevant.
- According to 74% of consumers, positive reviews increase the trust they have for a business.
This survey indicates just how important customer testimonials are for small businesses and why a reviews strategy needs to be in place.
There are various methods of collecting reviews from your customers. It is known that 7 out of 10 customers would leave reviews if asked. For example, if you have a bricks and mortar business, you can use customer comment cards to ask questions about their experience of your services. You can also include links on your website to your profiles on customer review sites.
It is important to understand your customers so that you can implement an effective system of collecting reviews. For example, you would need to route those customers who are most likely to give a positive review to the most influential ratings and review sites, and those that are likely to give a less than positive review can be routed to your site where they can leave their reviews.