Understanding The Importance Of Online Reviews

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Customer reviews are powerful. They have the keen ability to persuade and influence people’s opinions and their purchases. Research shows that more people are doing their pre-purchase homework by reading reviews not only to decide which product to buy but also to determine which company to do business with.

Consumers are also “forming opinions faster and needing to read fewer reviews before they trust (or don’t trust) a local business,” reports Myles Anderson. This, of course, means that businesses now have additional pressure placed on them to closely monitor their online reputations.
Online reviews play a direct role when it comes to influencing your customers’ attitudes and actions. Moreover, reviews directly impact whether your customers will choose to do business with your company or with one of your competitors. Therefore, you need to develop strategies for responding to negative feedback and garnering new, positive reviews in order to push the negative commentary further down the page where it’s less visible.

Before you can do that, however, you need to understand how people consume online reviews.

How And Why Consumers Read Reviews

The why is simple. Reviews make the decision-making process easier for people, whether they’re deciding on a restaurant to grab dinner at or choosing which new smartphone best meets their needs.


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The how is a bit more complicated. But Myles Anderson of BrightLocal helps get to the crux of it:

  • “By the time a consumer has started reading reviews, they have identified an issue/need they have, worked out what service or product satisfies this need, and now want to select a business to use.
  • So, the path from reading online reviews to purchasing from a business is short, which means it’s crucial for local businesses to have a positive online reputation so they can convert ‘searchers’ into customers.”

For a majority of consumers (67%), it takes just six reviews or fewer before they form an opinion about whether or not a company is trustworthy. Plus, “73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more.”

Therefore, you need to get enough positive feedback showing up at the top of review pages so customers are more likely to develop a favorable opinion of your business.

Consumers Trust Online Reviews

According to Travis Balinas, “88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.” Just think of the popularity of sites like Yelp, which receives 207 million visitors a month. The feedback is from total strangers. And yet consumers frequently base their buying decisions solely on these reviews.


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Facebook and Twitter are also growing recommendation channels that people get reviews from and trust. One important note to keep in mind, however, is that people are more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones.

How To Flip The Script On Negative Feedback

Given the high level of trust that consumers place on online reviews, too much negative feedback can really hurt your business. Receiving nothing but 5-star glowing praise from your customers is next to impossible, however. But hat you can do is flip the script on negative feedback by firing back with top-notch customer service.

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Many review sites allow you to reply to reviews. So for any unhappy customers, take the time to show them you care by…

  1. Apologizing
  2. And offering a gesture of goodwill, such as a coupon.

Making your customers feel heard can go a long way in terms of their perceptions of you. Plus, customers often update their reviews after companies reach out to let people know how the situation was handled.

How do you handle negative reviews about your company or products? What do you do to get more reviews?