In the past few years, online ratings and reviews have become the most powerful driving force for customer acquisition online. Research from Nielson shows that 91 percent of Americans trust recommendations from friends and family members. But what is even more remarkable is that the same study shows that 88% of consumers trust anonymous reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.
Consequently, customer feedback, ratings and reviews have a material and measurable impact on the success or failure of local businesses online. Public customer feedback is more important than ever, and smart businesspeople understand just how important customer feedback can be.
There’s no doubt that business success is heavily influenced by customer feedback and reviews. Here are a few reasons why customer reviews are key to business growth.
Word Of Mouth Advertisement Is Powerful and Effective
Every review written about the product or service you offer is a form of free advertising. And the research from Nielson shows that reviews are the most powerful form of business advertisement. In fact, positive reviews about your business are more powerful than any other form of advertisement. Reviews are also powerful social proof.
When prospective customers see lots of positive reviews from others who have actually bought from you, they are going to be more inclined to shop with you. If you focus on getting positive reviews, then your business will experience continued and rapid growth. But the best thing about word of mouth advertisement is that it is free. No one will ever claim payment for providing reviews. This can especially help small businesses that are still in their early stages.
Constructive criticism and recommendations
At one point or another, you are likely to receive a negative review from an unhappy customer. Paradoxically, this can be really good for your business. Unfortunately, small business owners live in fear of negative reviews because too many of these type of reviews can damage a business’s reputation. However, negative customer reviews can be really good for your business because they can gather valuable feedback that you can use to not only understand your customers better, but actually improve the service you provide to your customers.
According to a research study in the Journal of Consumer Research, if the reviewer is polite in the negative review, the customer is more likely to purchase from your business than if they left a rude review. The study further found that polite but negative reviews could actually improve the way a customer views your products and services. Participants in the survey even went so far as naming a brand as honest, cheerful and down-to-earth when there was a polite customer complaint, compared to no complaint at all.
Through reviews, a customer can be able to raise concern about specific aspects of the products or services you offer which can be a really good thing for you. This will help you look for ways of improving in your service delivery. Also, some customers will write reviews offering suggestions on how you could serve them better. They can also state their expectations of what they want from your business. All these suggestions will go a long way towards helping you improve on service delivery.
Build trust and credibility for your business online
Trust is everything in business, and its power cannot be denied. As much as 83% of customers would recommend a business they trusted to others. Online reviews, whether positive or negative are powerful tools that any business can leverage to increase trust and credibility online. Reviews help to increase a business’s online visibility. Essentially, businesses that are seen to respond to reviews whether positive or negative in a genuine, non-generic way, enjoy the greatest success because potential customers tend to trust them more. In general, consumers feel that these types of companies really do care about feedback and customer satisfaction.