Yelp, TripAdvisor, Yellow pages, Google My Business we all have heard of these review websites and used them at some point in our lives. Before the internet took over our lives, we used to rely on our friends and family to recommend us the best services or products in the market. Today, we do that in a few clicks. Hence, these review websites have kind of become a big deal. Do you know that Google My Business gets a monthly traffic of 158.03 million while Yelp visitors stand at 40 million?
Keeping in mind the popularity of these websites, there is no doubt that people go online before they make a purchase decision. In fact, according to Forbes, 90% of the customers read online reviews before making a purchase. Statistics also show that 84 percent of the people trust reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation.
While reviews are important for the big giants, have established brands and deep pockets for advertising, they are an absolute necessity for small businesses. Small businesses that step into the market need time to make a name for them and reviews sort of boost their success.
If you are a small business owner, then you should pay attention to what people are saying about your company and brand. If the statistics were not enough to convince you of the importance of review management, then here are some reasons that might:
Reviews shape your company’s image
No business is perfect, and you are bound to make mistakes, but what matters is that how quickly you mitigate that mistake. If you are a company that doesn’t pay heed to the reviews, then you are likely to overlook any mistakes that you may have made. You need to have a system in place that encourages reviews and monitors them regularly. When you respond to reviews, customers feel heard. They know that the company cares about them, and hence, they are more likely to forgive any mistakes.
Reviews give social proof
For a small business that has been recently established, it is difficult to gain the trust of new customers in a short period. In this scenario, reviews play an important role. They give social proof that there are others out there who have used the service or product and are happy about it. The social proof compels people to copy the actions of others since they believe that those actions were correct and rewarded them.
Negative reviews are opportunities
It is always about learning the art of review management. You won't always get positive reviews; some people may not like your product or service and may put up a negative review as well. When this happens, there is no need to panic. Negative reviews no doubt impact your image, but they serve other purposes as well. Mixed reviews show your potential customers that your company is genuine. All positive reviews may look like they are fake.
What matters the most is how you respond to a negative review. The first step is to respond immediately. A survey showed that customers expect companies to respond to reviews within seven days. 67 percent of the surveyed people said that they never got a response.
How you respond also matters a lot. Always offer to make things right. For example, if you are a restaurant and someone didn’t like the food, invite them for a free meal on the house or if you are an e-commerce store and someone isn’t happy with the service or product to offer them a replacement. Be polite and sympathetic, do not invalidate your customer's feelings or complaints. Remember the way you respond affects your potential leads as well.
When you don’t respond to negative review over some time, then you risk killing your business. Unlike the past days where information was limited, today it spreads like wildfire. Conducting a review audit can be a time-consuming and tricky process, but shying away from it will only cause you harm.
Online reputation is your competitive advantage
Imagine shopping from Amazon. Do you buy the first thing that you like? You do thorough research and look at the reviews. You do not only select a product, but you also select your vendor as well. Same is the case everywhere in the online world. People need to know what others are saying about your product and then only will they consider investing in it.
Compare an Apple phone with any other phone that you haven’t heard of. Which one will use choose? Most of the people will opt for Apple because they trust the brand and its brand equity. The dynamics of the online are similar to the offline world. In short, your reviews give you an edge over others and consequently increase your sales.
Google your business name to check what customers are saying about you; this will give you an idea whether you need to do some damage control or not. Make a profile on review websites such as Yelp or Google My Business and get your business registered. Respond to all sort of reviews, whether good or bad. If a customer puts up a good review, encourage it by thanking them. This will show customers that they are being heard. Use Google and put up an alert so that whenever anyone mentions your business in a review or a blog, you know about it. Good reviews can help you generate a lot more local leads if you are a local business.
Also, another way to build a good online reputation is to generate good content that is valuable for your customers and that they are likely to share. This will improve your ranking on Google and expose your business to more people.
Your reviews are your asset that you can leverage to build brand equity over time. Moreover, they also provide you with valuable feedback and insights that you may have overlooked. Hence, you should encourage reviews whenever possible, whenever a customer makes a purchase make sure to send customer feedback so that you know beforehand if there is any trouble and before a negative review makes way to a review website.