Online Reviews: Why They Matter to You & to Search

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Customer Reviews

With so much focus on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and whatever the latest buzz of the week is other social platforms often get lost in the shuffle. However, this does not mean they don’t matter. It’s these “other” networks that could be of most value to businesses. Online review sites are one area that fits into this category.

PeopleClaim, an online dispute resolution service, created an infographic back in 2012 that clearly depicts just how important these sites are:


PeopleClaim - The Review of Reviews

Though the information is somewhat dated, there are certain trends that are still true today:

– The majority of reviews posted on review sites are positive

– The majority of unhappy customers will come back if their issue is resolved quickly and efficiently

– The majority seeks reviews before purchasing and agrees that reviews make them more comfortable when buying a product or service

– The majority will more likely make a purchase on a website that has product ratings and reviews

A recent report from TravelDailyNews specifically about hotels also found that 66 percent of online hotel reviews were positive and a mere 10.28 percent were negative.

Beyond these facts, even if the review is negative, if you handle it properly, you have the opportunity to change the customer experience for the better. Last year, Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro provides a perfect example of what not to do in this scenario. In case you missed the drama, in a nutshell, the Arizona bakery was fired by Gordon Ramsay on “Kitchen Nightmares.” The company owners took to Reddit and Facebook after their story emerged and created fake accounts and responded to all comments in a very defensive and sometimes crude manner. To make matters worse, the two weren’t honest in what they were saying.

Whether it’s Yelp, Google Reviews, Angie’s List, Yahoo Local Listings, Facebook, Insider Pages, Citysearch, TripAdvisor, Amazon, and whatever else you may be listed on, you can likely contact the reviewer directly. This not only gives you the opportunity to right a potential wrong, but it also allows you to potentially create a repeat customer, and furthermore, a brand advocate.

But, unlike Amy’s Baking Company, you have to be smart about connecting with consumers. You shouldn’t respond to every comment or appear on the defensive. Sometimes contacting them beyond their comment platform, such as via email or phone, could be the best option. You must acknowledge their concern and address the issue as plainly and honestly as possible. In other words, strive to have the same customer service as Zappos.

Though mimicking Zappos’ customer service standards is a powerful goal to set, there a number of steps you can do that could help you generate more positive reviews. For starters, look at your current reviews or talk to your customers. This will help let you know if your customer sentiment is happy, or if you have work to do.

Secondly, it’s okay to ask for reviews. If you don’t come across as pushy, consumers really do respond to requests for reviews. If customers are happy, in many cases, they feel empowered and honored to know that a company values their opinion, which is a win-win for everyone.

Thirdly, build your Web presence. If you’re active on your website and across social media, consumers, especially the younger crowd, will be more likely to review something through these outlets as opposed to receiving something in the mail or email. You have to make it easy for your audience. So, being where they are makes you more accessible.

Just as we talked about before, fourthly, you must respond quickly to negative reviews. Most review forums are public, so if a customer only sees bad reviews, they’re going to have trouble a) buying from you and b) leaving a positive remark. In many cases, negative reviewers will also update their review once their issues have been resolved. Also, working in the favor of businesses, consumers may be hesitant about leaving negative reviews in light of recent legal issues that Yelp has experienced.

Lastly, understand that one review leads to another. If you’re thinking this is a good thing, you’re right, but it also requires careful attention. Just like anything else, it’s always the hardest to get the first review. But, once you get that one, the others come more easily. This is true with both positive and negative reviews, so be mindful.

Regardless of what your product or service is, it’s clear that consumers care about what their peers have to say. So, before you allocate all your time on blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc., set aside some time to plan on building your online reviews because it impacts your brand, potential consumers and search.

Display image courtesy of bloggersideas.com.

 

Abby Johnson

Abby brings a unique perspective to the mix because her background consists of both traditional broadcast and public relations to now the world of online. She is very skilled at looking at the big picture and understanding how to get the message across to a particular audience.

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