If you’ve been avoiding review sites like “Yelp” or you’ve refused to verify your business with “Google My Business” because you don’t want people saying things about your business for the world to see; it’s time to turn the page, my friend.
But right out of the gate you say “Reviews are subjective.” and “What if I get negative reviews?”. Yes, you are absolutely correct, reviews are subjective and you probably will get negative reviews, but in the end, it’s how you manage and grow from this information that helps your business stand out from the crowd. I’ll explain more on that in just a minute, but for now, let’s dig in.
Consumers Love Reviews
If I asked you if you’ve ever read a review online and made a buying decision based on that review, you would most likely say “Yes, I have”. I could then use that Q&A as proof that reviews are beneficial, but I will go a step further and throw some numbers out there in case you are wondering what the data says.
In a 2018 study by Bright Local they found among other facts that:
- 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people aged 18-34); and
- 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews
If 86% of consumers are reading reviews before making a buying decision, it makes sense to start developing processes to collect and manage reviews for your business.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
I’m quoting an article published by Yotpo … “Search engines aren’t just listening to what you have to say about yourself – they’re listening to what other people have to say about you.” In other words, the content that you create about your business is not the only content that Google cares about.
You see, it’s kinda like two kids (or five in my case) telling their side of the story in the midst of an argument. As you ask each one what happened, you get completely different versions of the story. In that same way, Google recognizes that while most business people have good intentions, they are only able to produce one side of the story. The other side has to come organically from past customers.
In the same article referenced above, Yotpo surveyed organic page visits for 30,000 businesses over 9 months to see how adding company reviews affects SEO. During that time organic page visits increased from approximately 5,500 to 8,000, an increase of about 50%. With all of the businesses surveyed adding the use of business reviews to their platforms during this period, it’s obvious that customer reviews play an important role in determining page rank; especially when it comes to local search results.
If you want to run a successful business you have to increase consumer confidence in regards to your products and services. You can do this a number of ways including:
- Telling the truth about your products and services
- Meeting deadlines promised to consumers
- Offering fair pricing
- Dealing with bad situations in a timely and professional manner; and
- Treating your customers with respect
The problem here, and maybe you have already realized this, is that you can’t prove that you are fair, respectful and offer a great service until the customer is already on board. That’s where reviews really come in handy.
While the consumer can’t find out first hand that you are all of these good things that you say, they can read what others are saying about your business and form an educated decision based on their comments. In fact, just as I explained earlier in the article that is exactly what most people (86%) do.
By allowing past customers to leave reviews on websites like “Yelp” or “Google Reviews” you are enabling your customers to build consumer confidence for your business. That is, of course, as long as the reviews are good. Which leads to my next point.
Accept that your company is going to receive negative reviews and trust that they will make your products and services better.
You can’t make every customer 100% happy and so you end up with a dreaded 1-star review. Maybe you dropped the ball or maybe you are dealing with a customer who is out of control, but the fact is that negative reviews actually help your business as long as you respond accordingly. Here’s how…
- Respond in a timely manner. The sooner the better because after all, you are dealing with a problem stemming from a product or service that someone has paid for, and typically a response within a day or two is okay.
- Respond respectfully and in a way that clearly indicates that you are addressing the issue. The last thing you want to do is get into an argument with a customer through reviews. Believe it or not, this happens often and it looks unfavorable to a consumer who is researching a company. If you want to throw up major red flags, respond to a review trying to prove a point or win an argument.
Aside from the customer-facing side of negative reviews, they can benefit your business in the long run. If you sell physical goods and seem to receive a bunch of bad reviews on specific items, maybe you should consider using a different supplier or dropping those items from your inventory altogether.
If you are selling a service you should use negative reviews as a way to improve your processes and make your services better. If all you ever pay attention to are the positive things that your customers say and you neglect the downfalls, how are we going to improve? So, embrace your negative reviews not as a good thing, but as a way to improve so that you can offer a much better product to your customers down the road.
If you aren’t familiar with social proofing, it’s a term that was coined in the ’80s by Robert Cialdini. It’s basically a psychological thing that we as humans have done since creation without even realizing it. I’ll explain… In circumstances where we are unsure of what to do we observe the actions of others and behave in a similar manner to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. In other words, we don’t want to look ignorant so we copy the behavior of others in an attempt to look intelligent.
Social proofing affects your business whether you realize it or not. When it comes to business reviews, if you choose to disallow them, you are putting yourself at risk of being left off of a consumer’s short list because they are unable to easily find information about your business from others who have used your products or services. In short, they will write your company off without hesitation due to the lack of user reviews.
Customers are by default, somewhat clueless when it comes to your products and services, which is exactly why they are researching in the first place. By allowing past clients to post reviews, you are creating opportunities for future income because they have “social proofed” your business for you.
There is no doubt that business reviews on websites like “Google” and “Yelp” help build brands by instilling confidence. While review fraud and subjectiveness are real things when it comes to reviews, the good really does outweigh the bad.
Are you collecting reviews for your business? Leave a comment below and let us know what your experiences have been like.