Small Business Owners Need to Know These 7 Facts about Online Reviews

1. You Need to Know Just How Important Online Reviews Can Be for a Business

The first fact that any business owner needs to know about online reviews is that online reviews are very important. Apparently, only about half of business owners believe this, while according to a 2013 survey by Yodle, the buying decisions of 90 percent of customers are influenced by seeing positive online testimonials about the business they are buying from.

When a customer is trying to decide between two businesses when buying a particular item, and assuming the price, quality and other important product attributes are equal, marketing data shows that they will buy from the company that has customer reviews displayed on their website. The customer feels like they are taking less of a chance in the transaction when they deal with a company that is transparent in display other customer opinions publicly.

2. There Are Two Basic Types of Reviews

Showing and asking for online reviews on a small business website helps with online reputation management and demonstrates to potential customers that the business is confident of the customer service experience any potential new customer will have with them.

Reviews can be differentiated between those focused on a product or service and those that relate to the experience the customer had dealing with their business. Unless the products the company sells are completely unique and not sold by any others, the customer’s experience with the company itself is more important for telling others why they should buy from that particular company.

3. The Credibility of Online Reviews Is Affected Based on Where They Are Displayed

The estimates on exactly how much customer reviews affect conversion rates vary widely. One big factor will be whether or not the reviews are independent. If they are on the company’s own website and they are overwhelmingly glowing reviews, the customer might just assume that you could have easily removed any bad reviews to skew the customer feedback to the businesses’ favor. It would be much harder for a company to do this in the case of reviews that are hosted by a third party such as Google+, Yelp or CitySearch. Such reviews will be seen as having more credibility in general, which will give them more weight in a customer’s mind and may even help to get more positive reviews.

4. Online Reviews Help with Customer Retention as Well as New Sales

In addition to the obvious benefit of more sales, encouraging customers to leave feedback about their experience with a company gives those running the business valuable information on where they might want to improve operations.

If more than a couple customers speak poorly about a particular facet of the website, for example, then it may be a good idea to modify and improve it. Such online review monitoring enables one to improve customer service by enhancing those things they liked in their interaction and deleting or changing those they didn’t.

This is also helpful for customer retention. Getting a new customer is great, but then the job becomes keeping them. If a customer is lost, the person in charge needs to know why, so they can improve operations to bring about greater customer loyalty.

5. Make it Easy for People to Share Experiences with Others

In this world of Facebook and Twitter, it is clear that people like to express themselves. When they have a good or bad experience, they want to share it with the world. If a business is careful to make sure they have a good experience when dealing with them, they will want the customer to tell the world about it.

Make it easy for them to do so.

Have links to a couple major, credible online review websites and encourage customers to leave a review there. This can extend to requesting customers to like the business on Facebook, and increase the company’s positive profile there, which will lead to more sales and help earn more positive reviews.

6. Treat Negative Reviews as Opportunities

The occasional bad review can actually help in a couple ways believe it or not.

If the reviews are posted on the company website instead of a third-party review site, it will serve to make all the reviews look more legitimate as prospective customers will know bad reviews are not being automatically scrubbed from the website.

Additionally, this creates an opportunity to provide a professional response to the issue raised in the negative review. In this circumstance, you show that you are aware of the problem and interested in solving it.

Compare this to a company that has no reviews about them on their website, and no links to third-party review websites. Do they even care about customer attitudes? How can one tell? Obviously no business wants a lot of bad reviews as this indicates a real problem.

However, a bad review or two, that you have found thanks to online review monitoring, which point out issues that are professionally responded to can prove increased credibility, and make prospects more comfortable with the idea of placing an order or picking up the phone to call you.

7. Online Reviews are an Essential Part of Growing Your Business

Any business that wishes to increase its bottom line, presumably all of them, should solicit customer feedback in the form of online reviews. Facts about customer psyche don’t lie when they are searching for products and services on the web.

Majority enjoy reading or at the very least seeing higher ratings, more reviews, added stars and increase percentage points for your online presence when browsing for the items and service you provide.

Following these 7 tips hopefully get you to consider linking to off-site review services; displaying reviews right on the company website, trying to create an opportunity out of a negative review and just being aware that people are vocal and opinionated behind the cloak of the web and they are discussing your business, so always be checking your reputation online.

Let us know some more of your tips you can share with other small business owners below in our comments. We’d love to hear more from your personal experiences.

 

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