How Online Customer Reviews Can Impact Your Business
Nowadays, traditional word of mouth is not the only way to find out about a first-hand experience with your business. With the internet, word of mouth is accelerated through the use of online web reviews and social media, which can strongly influence customer decisions. We explore a few ways in which online reviews can affect your business and what you can do about it.
Just having some online customer reviews to begin with can have a positive impact on your business. It shows other potential customers that your business is legitimate and tries to genuinely provide a product or service. If there is additional information to read about your business which will help in decision making, people are more likely to give you that little extra time to hear what people say.
However, if there are no online customer reviews, it may mean that people don’t feel strongly enough about your business to even write one. It might look like people have never used your business! If this is the case, you may have to take additional steps to motivate people to write a review. Examples include having an obvious review request after a checkout, following up with an email after an order has been fulfilled or even offering exclusive rewards and discounts for those providing a review (everyone loves a freebie!).
Positive and Negative Feedback
Receiving positive feedback is an unmistakable benefit when it comes to online customer reviews. People really like you and its clear to see! It’s not just evidence of interaction with your business—its proof of positive experiences and happy customers who feel that other people need to know about you.
Their reviews could be anything from praising the great speed of delivery to loving the quality of the product you sell, or even expressing how touched they were by your customer service. As a result, you will have bolstered your brand’s reputation with little effort and the reviews may even help in marketing the products or services they purchased.
Negative reviews, on the other hand, are obviously not a good thing. You need to be certain you can provide a good, problem-free product or service before you go about advocating reviews and offering incentives. Usually, if people are providing feedback about a negative experience it’s not because they were incentivised—it’s because the negative experience was inexcusable or inconvenient.
People are more likely to review a negative experience than a positive one and this tends to have a heavier impact. Therefore, it’s important to focus on customer satisfaction to keep the negative reviews at bay. Otherwise, the previously mentioned benefits to your reputation, marketing and of course sales, could be negated.
However, every cloud has a silver lining! Whenever you do receive a negative review, it’s your opportunity to publicly showcase your great customer service skills. New potential customers will be pleased to see that you can turn those frowns upside-down and by taking feedback seriously and dealing with complaints effectively, you can soften the blow of a negative review!
Online Customer Reviews in Search Engines
Having reviews of your business available online helps to improve your visibility in search engines such as Google and Bing. When your business has some online customer reviews, it is seen as a sign of endorsement for your business by the search engines. Consequently, this improves the credibility and relevance of your business to a user, resulting in higher rankings. If your website has plenty of positive reviews and links from review sites this will give your business a huge boost on the search engine results pages.
Online customer reviews are valuable to consumers in their product research phase, so they will be searching for the name of your product plus the word ‘review’ before they look to buy. If your reviews are non-existent, your competitors will rank higher than you for this more focussed keyword phrase.
However, once you have some good reviews and are ranking well, people will see a score out of 5. This instantly places a numerical rating on your business alongside other businesses, so it’s important that you show people how your business is the best solution to their problem.
But where does this score out of 5 come from? Google has its own reviews section where people can review your page which affects the aggregate score. This coincides well with the other details of your business such as your contact information and location (which you can gain control of through Google My Business). Bing lifts it’s customer reviews from external sites such as Yell and Facebook. This means it’s also important to manage your reviews on as many platforms as you can.
Social Media Reviews
The average number of friends on Facebook is 338. So, when someone leaves a review on social media, such as Facebook, it is the faster, modern-day equivalent of gathering 338 people in a room, telling them how good or bad your business is and then writing it on the walls. Some people may even go as far as posting a separate status to either praise or criticise your business. These testimonials and reviews will have an instant reach within someone’s social network. However, since they are likely to be a trusted friend or acquaintance, it may carry more weight than an anonymous review.
Just like reviews on websites and search engines, it’s important that you appropriately respond to reviews on Facebook and take them seriously. There’s a bonus from Facebook for quick response rates too.
If you want to reap the benefits of online reviews you need to remain focussed on customer satisfaction. Customers will be able to see the reviews for your product all in one place and use this to make an informed decision about whether they want to proceed.