Online reviews matter. Whether you’re a small business owner with just one location or a large corporation with multiple brands, customer reviews are key to understanding how well you’re doing and where you can improve. They’re also especially important for businesses that operate on a smaller scale or niche market. Those who don’t offer home delivery or have more than one location may not get many customers coming through their doors, but they do have plenty of people who can provide valuable feedback on what they sell and the experience they provide it. They may not all be willing to leave reviews, but when they do so it’s helpful information that can change an underperforming business into something more consistent and trusted by its community.
What is a Customer Review?
A customer review is a form of feedback from a customer or potential customer about their experience with your product or service. Online reviews consist of both positive and negative feedback and are meant to be an honest account of all the ways your business can improve. The types of information you’ll find in customer reviews vary. Some are positive, some negative. Some are helpful, some not. But, no matter the tone, all of them provide you with valuable insight into how your business can improve, inform your decisions as a consumer, and even influence your buying habits.
Why Do Online Reviews Matter?
The tricky thing about online reviews is that it’s not always easy to tell whether or not they’re genuine. There are a lot of fake reviews on Google, Amazon, and other platforms. But, even when they’re not 100 percent genuine, the negative reviews are especially important. They’ll tell you where your business stinks.
Building trust with your customers is one of the most important things you can do. Trust means two things in this context. Trust that they’ll receive quality products and services, and trust that they’ll be treated fairly and equitably.
A trustworthy business demonstrates builds trust through the ways they engage with and respond to their customers. Online reviews are just one piece of the puzzle in building trust between your customers and your business. But, they’re an especially important part because it’s so easy for a customer to leave a review.
Influence Purchasing Decisions
Online reviews are one of the best ways to influence purchasing decisions. A study by the National Association of Estate Agents found that 87 percent of consumers have been influenced by online reviews.
Provide Social Proof
Social proof is the idea that people rely on other people’s actions or experiences to make purchasing decisions. One of the best ways to build social proof is to have highly-rated reviews of your products and services on platforms like Yelp, Google, and Amazon. Having a few good reviews isn’t going to create social proof. But, if you have a couple dozen or more high-rated reviews, it’s a good indication that your products are making people happy.
Social proof is especially helpful for those businesses that rely on social proof to make sales. If you work at a coffee shop, for example, and customers are constantly talking about how much they love their coffee and how they won’t be back until they’ve had at least one cup, then they’re providing social proof that your coffee is good.
Contribute to SEO efforts.
SEO is the practice of optimizing your business’s online presence for search results. Your site needs to be found in Google’s search results so that people can find you and browse your offerings. The more times your site appears in Google’s top search results, the more times your customers will be able to find you and purchase your products and services. Google’s algorithms take into consideration the quantity and quality of the content on your site when determining how often your site appears in their search engine results.
It Validates Expertise
Customer reviews are a way for your customers to validate your expertise. If one of your products receives a few positive reviews, it’s a good indication that your customers are happy with their experience. Validation is especially important for those who operate in a niche or organic-based market.
Those businesses need to validate their expertise because the customers who buy their products and services live in that niche. If you operate in a niche market or provide services that are nearly impossible to measure, it’s important to validate your customers’ expertise.
Help Improve Your Business Operations
Online reviews are one of the most helpful ways for customers to provide feedback about your business. Every time a customer leaves a review on a platform like Yelp, Google, or Amazon, it provides you with an opportunity to respond, provide an explanation for the way your business operates, and correct any mistakes your customers might have noticed. By responding to customer reviews, you’re helping to improve your business operations.
Online reviews matter. The more customer reviews you have on platforms like Yelp, Google, and Amazon, the better your position will be when it comes to those platforms. They’re also one of the best ways to build social proof, validate expertise, contribute to SEO efforts, and help improve your business operations.
The best businesses take customer reviews seriously, and they do their best to respond to negative feedback. The worst businesses ignore negative reviews, and they simply try to brush them off. You don’t have to be the best at everything, but you do have to be the best at one thing: being consistent, reliable, and providing a great customer experience every time.