There are 26,380 reviews posted every minute on Yelp alone.
According to Bright Local, smart people that understand digital marketing, “84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.” That’s a lot of feedback and a lot of trust. But could that trust be misplaced? Are those reviews reliable? Yes and maybe.
Knowing how customer behaviors affect your business has always been important, but in the digital world, online reviews may have more impact than any other consumer feedback.
Online review forums, such as Yelp, Google, and Facebook continue to grow and are now the digital equivalent of “word of mouth” advertising – on steroids.
Online reviews should be the most reliable reflection of how a company treats its customers.
The sheer volume of all those reviews should provide a real-time snapshot compiled from a good number of customers. If enough people approve of anything, most of us will tend to agree. We trust the majority.
The human need to belong is powerful, and it can become a vulnerability, especially in cyber space. The cues we give and get when we interact in the same physical space are gone. But the majority is still there and so are we.
Today it’s easier than ever for customers to voice their opinions. The popularity of writing reviews and their high visibility is a powerful combination that can make or break a company’s reputation. The speed at which the word gets out has an exponential effect on the impact of those reviews, creating trends that are hard to disrupt.
2 people out of 10 people don’t trust the internet as much as their neighbor. That’s it! You’d think there would be a lot more. But that just proves the power of social media and the 24/7/365 engine that drives customer feedback.
This trust can be good news for companies that focus on great customer service. Good customer service creates positive reviews that will attract future customers.
At the other end of the spectrum are those negative reviews, and they may have more impact than the positive reviews. Some studies indicate that even one negative review will send about one out of four potential customers to the next listing.
Three or four negative reviews will result in about 60% of potential customers head the other way.
“86% of customer who read a negative review hesitate to do business.” Business2Community
Based on further research by Bright Local, 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion about a company which means that every single review has the potential to impact your company either negatively or positively.
“That makes online reviews as critical to your local SEO strategy as building citations and on-site optimization.” Shopify
As if the power of reviews didn’t have enough of an impact already, Google takes notice of these reviews as well. This matters for two very important reasons. First, since most people don’t go past the first page of results when searching for a company, they typically make their choices based on reviews, which Google prominently features on each listing.
Second, although Google’s algorithms used in their search engine are always a bit of a mystery, it’s no secret that where a company ranks in search results is important. These rankings are affected by not only the number of reviews but also the percentage of positive reviews.
Whether you like it or not, online reviews matter and they are here to stay, so if you want to keep your company in a positive light, it’s time to learn how your company can nurture good reviews and minimize the bad ones.
“The reality is, you can do everything right and yet still receive a negative review.” American Express
Handling Bad Reviews
Since a single negative review carries so much more weight that a positive one, you have to be ready for damage control to protect your company’s reputation. It doesn’t matter if a review is accurate or not, so instead of feeling offended, your job is to handle that negative review as quickly as possible.
Negative reviews can hurt your reputation fast. One angry customer can write a bad review and that one review can trigger other customers to do the same.
Right or wrong, it’s just something you must take seriously. To stay on top of these issues, you must monitor your listings online on a frequent basis. Once a negative review posts online, the key is to handle the issue fast…as in right now.
“If possible, the best way to deal with a negative review is to respond within 48 hours” Inc.
If you receive a negative review, begin by addressing the review on the site or forum where it was posted. Yelp and most other review sites allow business owners the chance to respond to reviews very easily.
The first step is to acknowledge the comment and reach out with some options for resolution. Regardless of the options you choose, they should always include an apology and reassurance that you care and will make things right.
“Even if you do get negative feedback, you can turn it into a positive by engaging in a constructive way and showing that you’re a genuine business.” Shama Kabani, author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing
When a customer reports a bad experience, what seems like a negative may actually provide the opportunity for something positive. Most customers leave bad reviews because they feel that they have been treated unfairly.
By addressing negative comments quickly and publicly, you are telling your customer, and anyone else who sees your response, that you care about good customer service. Not only will this minimize the damage of the review, it could lead to that same customer updating or changing their review to a positive one.
“Studies show that almost 75% of potential customers view positive reviews as a good indicator of a company’s reliability and customer service.” Invesprcro
Nurturing Good Reviews
The best way to avoid negative reviews is to provide the highest level of customer service you can to prevent them in the first place. But you already knew that, didn’t you? So if you are providing a high level of service, how do you get people to talk about it? You ask them.
Remember the old adage that a customer who has a bad experience will tell 10 people but a customer who has a good experience may tell one or two? That still holds true online, but in the digital world you have the ability to solicit feedback pretty easily.
“All you need to do is to send your customers an email requesting a review.” Neil Patel
Sending an email to a customer asking them to review their experience with your business is truly a golden opportunity that goes beyond a positive review. Just receiving an email from your business tells your customer that they are special and that you care about what they think. It also provides an opportunity to catch a problem before it goes online, further solidifying your reputation for great customer service.
Customers receiving these types of emails know that you are implying that you would like a positive review, and that is often enough to get a good review.
Remember, in digital marketing, online reviews is a numbers game. Your job is to keep those numbers in your favor by having great customer service and asking customers for their feedback so you can stay in control of your reputation.