Smart marketers know online customer reviews—both good and bad—impact revenue.
Just how much? Depends on whether you provide good or bad customer service. And, whether you resolve purchasing concerns quickly and to the satisfaction of your customer.
But before you start worrying about how your customers view you—and what they say about you online—based on how well you treat them, we wanted to give you some pointers on how you can make the most of online consumer reviews about your business.
Just how prevalent are online reviews among today’s consumers? Research clearly indicates the growing influence which online reviews have on North American consumer attitudes and buying habits.
A full two-thirds of all customers read online reviews before making buying decisions
It used to be word-of-mouth marketing from trusted friends and neighbors solely influenced a business’s ability to grow revenue. Now, more and more, consumers are trusting online reviews from perfect strangers. Even as much as personal recommendations from people they know. Especially among younger consumers.
According to a 2013 survey by Dimensional Research, an incredible 90 percent of consumers who read reviews said positive online customer reviews influence their buying decisions. Slightly less (86 percent) said their buying decisions are influenced by the negative reviews they read.
This trend seems to hold true even for consumers using online reviews as part of their pre-purchase research for choosing the services of local businesses. In fact, a 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey by BrightLocal indicates 85 percent of consumers read online reviews to decide whether they’ll use a local business.
What’s more incredible, nearly 8 in 10 say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
And according to both surveys, it appears to be an upward trend. This likely indicates that consumers are becoming more familiar and comfortable with online reviews.
Thus, if you’re a business owner selling products or services—either online or from a storefront—you can be certain that your potential customers will be consulting online reviews as the next logical step in their purchasing cycle.
Making the most of online customer reviews
Here are four reasons to embrace customer reviews and help ensure they work to your benefit by increasing—rather than decreasing—revenue.
1. Your new customer is ready and eager to buy. By the time a potential customer starts reading reviews, he has identified a problem in need of a solution and already narrowed down what service or product can fill that need.
So, he’s now ready to select a business to help him. It’s your first and only chance to shine. Blow it—and you lose him to your competition!
2. Customer service is at the center of your online reputation. Consumers ranked customer service as the top reason for determining how much they trust doing business with you. So much so that a single service interaction—either good or bad—affects a customer years after the initial impact is felt.
And increasingly, consumers are much more likely to share both good and bad experiences with friends and family.
Therefore, it becomes critically important to manage customer service interactions appropriately to increase the ratio of good to bad online consumer reviews.
3. Customer service directly impacts sales. Every business owner knows that your ability to help a customer resolve an issue of concern directly impacts future purchases.
In fact, consumers are much more likely to make additional purchases after a good customer service experience. On the contrary, they are much more likely to stop buying after a bad experience.
And by default, the sharing of these buying experiences in online reviews—both good and bad—will impact the future revenue potential coming from those reading the reviews.
4. Online customer reviews can help you correct course. Truth is, most businesses just wing it when it comes to determining how to handle consumer complaints. With a bit of study, any business owner can take more control over what customers say about them online.
For example, research suggests pleasant customer service associates who solve customer concerns quickly and completely are primarily what drive good reviews online. Inversely, having to explain a problem multiple times or to an unpleasant customer service rep is what generates a bad review.
Thus, online customer reviews offer business owners a quick and easy method to gauge how well they are serving both first-time and repeat buyers. And, an effective tool for building credibility that raving fans can use to share their enthusiasm about your business.
Clearly, online reviews can be your ally in growing both your customer base and your revenue. But, you must know what your customers are saying about you. Then, you can take immediate steps to respond…and respond to their complete satisfaction.
When you do, you can finally relax and enjoy the momentum you’ll experience from the exposure of predominantly good online customer reviews.
If you’ve got some customer experiences—good or bad—with online reviews, please share them with our readers in the comment section below.
About Jerry Bures
Jerry Bures is a direct-response web copywriter and marketing consultant. Since 2010, he has helped natural health, self-help and business opportunity clients—as well as local small businesses—become more visible, credible and profitable online.