Trusting the Unknown: The Power of Online Reviews

Online reviews

Looking for a good Italian restaurant in Cape Town? Maybe you want to rent a car to go to Bloukrans Bungy Bridge for the weekend? Or maybe go see sharks in False Bay?

What’s the first thing you do? You Google for different places that offer these services and look at their reviews, right?


Well the answer is simple, really – you’re looking for feedback from past customers. If you haven’t realized it yet, we rely immensely on online reviews in our personal lives, and there is no exception when it comes to your business.

If potential customers want to know about your business, they Google you too!

An astonishing 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, according to Bright Local’s 2016 Local Customer Review Survey, with 7 out of 10 customers leaving a review for a business when asked to do so.

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Convinced yet? Well how about knowing that 54% of people will visit your website after reading positive reviews, and 90% read less than 10 reviews before making an opinion about your business.

It’s all about the trust you give a potential customer when they’re approaching your business for the first time. Reviews and ratings offer potential customers some kind of social proof and allows them to make decisions with much more confidence.

Did you know that 53% of customers search for local businesses at least once a month, and 69% do this at least 6 times every year. Powerful, isn’t it?

How Do Online Reviews Work?

Now that we’ve established the importance of these reviews, let’s discuss the different types, namely onsite and offsite.

After you’ve provided a service, it’s in your interest to receive feedback on that service. So it may be a good idea to enable customer reviews on your website; this will improve your performance on search rankings in search engines.

However, when potential customers look for a business, it’s the Google My Business result that they’ll see first. This platform, apart from using its own review tool, incorporates data from other customer review sites and directories, such as TripAdvisor or Yelp! into their local search algorithm. This builds a much more complete perspective to customers on your business. This could even have a greater impact on your search rankings than your onsite reviews.

In this way, more reviews will result in higher search visibility. You want to attract constant reviews to keep your visibility fresh, because 73% of people think that reviews older than 3 months are no longer relevant!

“Hey, I’m not happy with your service!”

Now, engaging with customers who’ve posted reviews on your business is always important, especially if they’re negative! But don’t be afraid. In fact, this is your opportunity to show customers that you are committed to them and that you want to see them happy. Both perspectives will be seen by the public: the reviewer’s and yours.

As established by Bazaarvoice, an unaddressed customer review will not only risk repeat business from that person or company but can also push other customers away from your business. Customers are much more likely to buy from a business who responded to their reviews, than those who didn’t. Responses were more likely to be rated as “helpful” by readers, with 71% of customers altering their brand perception when a reply was received.

Always remember: your customers want to see that you care about their concerns. Don’t become defensive, but rather try to understand the concern of the customer. Remember that your reply will be in a public forum so you want to make sure that you’re able to (1) calm the concerns of the customer and (2) show other potential customers that you care about their concerns and try your utmost to address them.

You can also follow these easy steps before replying to a customer.

  1. Cool down, don’t respond impulsively.
  2. Acknowledge the problem and look into it with detail. (And when we say look into it, we mean actually look into it, don’t say you will if you won’t)
  3. Address the situation directly, take charge.
  4. Take the conversation offline so it can be more private and personal, after your first response.
  5. Request contact details to follow up and get more information.
  6. Keep track and document these reviews, they may indicate a particular pain point that needs to be addressed.

This practice will help you to identify key areas of dissatisfaction with the end goal of improving your customer service. Remember to ask your customers for a review or some quick feedback to find out whether they’re happy with your service or not. If the feedback is provided in any setting that is not online, ask for contact details. This will help to establish a feedback loop where you’re able to contact the customer to request further information and address any concerns.

Give Your Success Some Credit

What about the happy clients?

Well, you should engage with them too – give credit where it’s due and thank them for taking the time to review your business. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great channels to interact with your customers; somewhere they expect an interaction with you after leaving a positive comment. It’s a win-win really.

By keeping an eye on the content of your online reviews, you’re able to greatly benefit from them. If they’re positive, you win. If they’re negative and you’re ultimately able to improve the quality of your service, you also win!

The power of online customer reviews has never been stronger. Take action on negative reviews and strengthen the positive ones. If you have any comments or questions on any other aspects of online reviews, feel free to let us know in the comments section below.


About the Author: Andrés Portugal, Valoro Consulting Intern

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