How Much Do Online Reviews Matter?

Five stars

Online reviews of businesses have been around for a few years now, and they are only getting more important.  A recent study asked 3,600 consumers in the US and Canada 14 questions about online reviews, word of mouth, and general use of the Internet to find local businesses.  The results are striking:

-“85% of consumers say they read online reviews for local businesses  (up from 76% in 2012)”

-“73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more (up from 58% in 2012)”

-“79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (up from 72% in 2012)”

If you are a local business owner, 85% of your customers are online and reading reviews.  And they don’t just read the reviews…they take them to heart. Most people (79%) trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

For this reason, it’s very important for local businesses to have a strategy to gather, monitor, and respond to reviews.

Gather
Gathering reviews can be the trickiest part of all. Some business categories have very little trouble accumulating online reviews (ex: restaurants, hotels, and unique retail stores), but many businesses find the task challenging.

Subtle reminders, window stickers, and other tactics can be very helpful in accumulating reviews. Just be careful. Every review platform has a unique set of rules about review solicitation, and abiding by the rules is very important.

There are no quick tricks–only good plans.

Monitoring and Responding
Monitoring and responding go hand-in-hand. Check on your listings regularly to read any new reviews. Many platforms provide business owners the invaluable opportunity to respond.

If you get a bad review, calmly respond. Tell the customer you’re sorry to hear they had a bad experience. Ask if they’ll give you a call or email you so you can learn more about the situation. This (1) shows everyone else the business owner cares, and (2) takes the conversation off-line.  Don’t get defensive on the review board. Just politely take it off-line.

If you get a good review, respond to that too. Thank the customer. Tell them you’re glad they’re happy. When readers see the owner appreciates good reviews, they’ll be more likely to leave their own.

[Note: Even if you don’t have the option to respond to a bad review publicly, do your best to contact the person. Show you care, explain any misunderstandings, and make bad experiences better.]

Call The Primm Company
If you have questions about how to manage reviews and your online reputation, give us a call at 757-623-6234. We’ll help your business look its best online.