Does my business need online reviews?
Online reviews have the potential to make or break any online business since most clients base their purchasing decisions on online research and reviews.
Research shows 90% of customers reporting being influenced by online reviews in their purchase decisions. And it’s not surprising. In the often intangible world of online shopping, where you can’t feel, view or test the product, the importance of the recommendations of fellow consumers rises by magnitudes. It assumes the role of word-of-mouth in the online mode of business and helps in shaping the business’s reputation within the market. Most customers read online reviews as absolute statements, with as much validity as a recommendation from any friend or family. Reviews act as an essential, linking bridge between the business and the customer, and can detail almost any visible aspect of the service or product: communication, quality, durability, after-service, delivery, and a host of others. It also is a platform for fellow consumers to interact, and discuss their opinions on products and other business aspects.
While the exposure of the online review system might frighten some business owners as being vulnerable to harsh criticism, it is a powerful promotional tool and should never be scanted of attention. A pro-active and can-do approach, prompt communication, an ear open both to customer complaints and praises, a tactical approach guided by protocol rather than happenstance - all of these will shine through in how you handle your reviews. You gain considerable credibility when it is evident that you’re running a well-oiled, genuine operation, and that transparency is your company’s policy.
There are many reasons why adopting a system of maintaining an online review management is highly beneficial for any business.
- Trust is stronger than Temptation. No one wants to purchase anything without feeling secure about the product’s quality. Is the product or service we’re about to buy actually worth it? Online reviews will help in converting potential users via reliable information sources.
- There is no better inducement to purchase than peer recommendation. With studies showing that 92% of consumers trust peer recommendation over advertising, a business owner would have to be mad to neglect such a potent avenue for sales. For Millennials in particular, reviews are of paramount importance as only 1% say they trust advertising at all.
- Keeps Your Customers Close. Customers don’t need businesses. Businesses need customers. The adage of ‘the customer is always right’ may sound facile in the face of, for example, someone trying to insist a company selling pool tables should be able to provide them with poolside furniture: they’ve misunderstood the business. The customer IS right in this case too, though, because what it indicates is that the products are not being specified with sufficient clarity. A savvy business owner will never belittle a client for this valuable insight. It offers a free opportunity to address an issue. Without customers, a business is nothing. Suggestions and reviews help build the essential customer relationship necessary to power any business entity. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” ~Bill Gates
- Free Advertising For Your Business. Every comment and review will start a chain for more. The number of reviews on your website are directly proportionate to its footfall. In an age when advertising is often at best ignored, at worst ridiculed, reviews are the lifeblood of spreading the word about a business. Reviews also snowball: the greater the number of reviews, the more new reviews are likely to appear. Few people want to be the first to post a comment but once the ground is broken it’s much more approachable. This often attracts more turnover than any marketing campaign.
- Optimization Of Sales And Services
Reviews help businesses keep in touch with the latest online trends and demands. Suggestions are also a great source for business improvement strategies. They can help with staying up-to-date with insights such as most recommended and requested products and those that have received the most negative or positive remarks.
- Gets Your Business Talking By Its Ranking
Online reviews work wonders in increasing your business visibility in search engines. This, in turn, enhances target audience and helps to build a more widespread business network. Higher rankings in Google searches boosts opportunities for sales. They help strengthen your business and improve penetration within the market.
- Both sides of the story
You have to appreciate both positive and negative reviews. Whereas a good review will bring in more customers, a bad review serves as a trigger for what is evidently necessary ameliorative action. Negative comments, handled well, can in moderation be as much or more of a force to drive trade up as glowing praise. Even the worst review can be turned around, as the suggestions for this dry-cleaning service’s continued slip-ups from The Harvard Review illustrate. A well-managed bad review proves that a business is genuine and trustworthy. Your customer’s time is valuable, and all comments should be accepted with gratitude, with bad ones being treated as opportunities for improving customer experience.
In short, if a business doesn’t have a system of online reviews available, it certainly should have. Consumers view ratings as more reliable than product descriptions. Business owners should engage pro-actively with the online review system, and understand what is happening at the front line through direct interaction. As the article above suggests, go ‘to the front lines’ of the business to understand how things really work: take the customer’s viewpoint to heart. Each review represents a customer’s voice that’s been enabled by the availability of the review system, which in turn empowers businesses to review strategies through quantitative analysis. Application of smart techniques to handle the reviews brings your company to a point where it’s not only successful but beneficial to society as a whole.