The Value of Online Reviews

April 04, 2017

By Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC


Online consumer reviews are a mainstay in today’s marketplace. Nearly everyone seeks out customer reviews before making a purchase decision; “Google it” is the new phrase when anyone asks about a product or service.

The options for consumers to write and read reviews is always growing and in 2015 BBB jumped into the fray with our Verified Customer Reviews service. Of course, there are Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Reviews, Amazon, Choice, Trip Advisor, and much more. So why are so many people flocking to these spaces before buying or hiring? Easy. People see the value in being an informed consumer. That means as a business you should see the value of driving your audience to write reviews about their experience with your services.

Take note:

The Harvard Business Review (2014) finds that a great review has the potential of earning that a transactional based business 140% more spend than a poor review.

A subscription based business sees that number jump to 170% when reviews are considered by a savvy consumer.

A survey conducted by Search Engine Land (2014) finds 88% of people trust online reviews as much or more than personal recommendations. That speaks volumes about the value of online reviews as the best form of advertising for any business is old fashioned word-of-mouth.

But wait, there’s more!

Building your online presence in terms review volume actually builds consumer confidence. The more spaces you are found with favourable reviews, the better chance you have at turning those consumer searches into consumer conversions.

That review volume not only builds confidence, it helps your findability online. Your SEO improves. If you can employ this idea within your communications strategy and be found on the first page of a Google search, you’re winning. Just remember this thought: Where is the best place to hide a dead body?...The second page of a Google search.

Good reviews or bad reviews, when consumers find them, helps consumers learn more about your business and your products or services. They get the chance to experience what others have and therefore make better and more confident spending decisions.

Obviously, it’s easy to see the merit in good reviews and how they drive business, however, negative reviews can also have a positive impact long term. Certainly, fake reviews from competitors are a problem and fake glowing reviews are disingenuous, but if you have legit clients who are complaining about the same thing, then perhaps there is something systemic in your organization that needs addressing.

Accepting negative reviews with grace is key to retaining those people as clients. Sometimes they just want to feel heard, and it gives you an opportunity to improve your customer relations. If new customers see this interaction online they are less likely to look elsewhere for the product or service. If you respond to a negative review with professionalism and desire to deal with the issue, then you are more likely to win a new client and less likely to lose current ones.