Customer reviews have always been important to businesses. Customers are much more likely to trust each other than to trust what the business has to say about itself. With so many opportunities to post reviews, customers are seeking out each others’ opinions now more than ever.
Consider this. You’re looking for a winter coat. You can read the product descriptions and get an idea of what the coat offers, but reading a review that says the coat isn’t cut out for a Chicago winter gives you a clearer understanding of how the coat holds up.
We’ve always been told that people are more likely to talk about a bad experience than a good one. That’s not always true. A recent report showed that 75% of reviews posted on review websites are positive. The same report stated that 82% of consumers considered user generated reviews valuable. Also, 83% of respondents said they would trust a user review over a critic’s review. Clearly, people want to know the good and the bad.
So where do people turn to read these great reviews? Many companies have a review feature right on their website, so customers can read reviews while they’re shopping. Facebook has also started offering a review section on business pages. And while this is helpful for consumers, businesses must be ready to deal with and use bad reviews.
Many Better Business Bureau regions now offer the opportunity for customers to write positive, negative and neutral reviews about companies they have had interactions with. BBB’s allow businesses time to review and respond to reviews before they are posted, and don’t allow anonymous reviews. This makes the review process more transparent and gives companies the chance to respond appropriately.
Amazon has always been a good source for customer reviews, and they actively seek out customer input with an email solicitation a week or two after the customer buys the product. They’ve even been known for their hilarious reviews of simple products.
Yelp has been a mainstay for service reviews for years. Many restaurants, salons, and other service providers actively monitor and respond to Yelp reviews because so many people trust the site. Many of these businesses take the feedback very seriously and enact changes in policy when they receive a bad review.
So what can we do with this?
Pay attention to how your business looks online. If you can see it, customers can see it.
Be proactive. Negative comments should be taken in the form of feedback. Can you enact change? Was it a one-time glitch in the system?
Actively solicit reviews. If your customers trust your service, future customers will trust your service. But they won’t know until they see it.
Next time, we’ll look at how small businesses can get the most out of online customer reviews.