The Real Impact of Online Customer Reviews on Businesses

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These past few years, the popularity and number of online review sites have significantly grown. It started when people used to seek customer reviews before deciding which products or services to buy, or where to travel and eat. As time passes, these reviews have slowly become an integral part of businesses that leverage the power of the internet.

Key Statistics on the Importance of Customer Reviews

Over the years, analysts have carried out several studies to discover the real impact of positive and negative reviews on various aspects of businesses. These studies cover popularity, conversion rate, number of sales, product awareness, and profitability of selling products or services. Below are some key takeaways compiled by Invesp.

The Importance Of Online Customer Reviews

90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business.

89% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

– Customers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with “excellent” reviews

– 72% say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.

– 92% of users will use a local business if it has at least a 4-star rating.

– 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review.

– Reliability (27%), expertise (21%), and professionalism (18%) are the most important reputation traits for a local business.

– Estimated number of online reviews customer read before trusting a business

0 – 8%
1 – 3%
2-3 – 24%
4-6 – 32%
7-10 – 18%
11-12 – 8%
21-30 – 3%
31-40 – 1%
41-50 – 1%
51+ – 2%

– 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews.

– On average, a one-star increase on Yelp leads to a 5 to 9 percent increase in a business’s revenue, one negative review can cost you 30 customers.

– Number of reviews posted every minute by Yelp users – 26,380

– Percentage of Yelp users that have made a purchase at a business they found on Yelp – 98%.

– Percentage of Yelp users that visit Yelp because they intend to make a purchase – 80%.

How to Deal with Negative Reviews

  1. Respond promptly.
  2. Be real and admit your mistakes.
  3. Correct inaccuracies.
  4. Highlight your strengths.
  5. Write like a person, not a corporation.
  6. Take it offline.
  7. Provide restitution if it’s warranted.
  8. Ask loyal customers to share their experiences.
  9. Be consistent.
  10. Understand how rating and review sites work.

How to Secure and Maintain Your Online Reputation

Below are some tips for taking charge of your online reputation on review sites and handling customer reviews.

1. Check all review sites relevant to your business.

First, you need to know the major review sites for your niche and industry before you can do anything about them. Here are some of biggest and most important:

  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • TripAdvisor
  • Foursquare
  • Yellow Pages

Remember that your niche may include one or more of these major review sites, so do your homework and find all the related review sites. Once you’ve collected an ample list, you can start keeping an eye on your reviews once or twice a week depending on the volume you’re receiving.

2. Turn the negatives into positive reviews.

One of the most important things to do in handling customer reviews is responding to negative reviews. While it is vital to look for a way to resolve the issue, there are times when there is no way to do so. If this is the case, you would look better if you’ve replied and assured the reviewer that you’re sorry and that you intend to reach out to reconcile.

There may or may not be any hope for fixing the negative review itself. That said, at the very least, new visitors will see your efforts and know that you care. This can go a long way toward helping negate the effects of that bad review in the consumer’s eyes.

3. Be persistent about obtaining positive reviews.

Most customers are more likely to leave bad customer reviews after a bad experience, so you need to be active in attracting good reviews to relevant review sites. In most cases, simply getting ample positive reviews to cover the bad ones will be enough to maintain a good rating on any average review site. However, this is no easy task.

The most ideal time to ask for a good review is right after the customer has had a great experience and is emotionally motivated to act. This is the time where customers will often want to give back for the amazing service you have provided.

4. Never opt for fake reviews.

The last thing you want is to be kicked off a review site for violating their terms and conditions, and eliciting fake reviews is a major breach of agreement. Being able to reply to bad reviews can be one of your most powerful weapons and going for fake reviews can jeopardize this. In some cases, you can be fined, too.

How to Protect Your Business from Fake Reviews

No business is perfect so negative customer reviews are normal. It helps you improve your products, services, and even customer service. However, not all negative reviews are genuine. Some are just made up by your competitors intent on tarnishing your hard-earned reputation. To protect your business from these bullies, here’s how to spot, report, and respond to these fake reviews.

Signs of Fake Reviews

  • Vagueness

Fake customer reviews are often vague, lacking in details and with generic statements. Legit ones usually include a name, description, and detailed experience with your product or service.

  • Me, me, me

Fake reviewers often use first-person pronouns like “I” and “me” because our brains tend to draw stories from what we know when fabricating lies.

  • More doing, less seeing

In describing real events, we tend to remember what we saw or touched but when we lie, we usually describe actions because they are easier to make up.

Reporting Fake Reviews

Once you’ve spotted fake customer reviews, it’s time to take action. Sadly, there are review sites that won’t remove complaints unless you can definitely prove that they are untrue. But if you gather enough proof to support your claims then they may be willing to help. Try looking for sales records and email exchanges, and compare the location of the reviewer to your business address.

Big sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp are willing to help you look for fake reviews. Each site has specific guidelines for removing reviews so you should become familiar with these before you submit your complaint.

Responding to Fake Reviews

  • Be patient.

Wait and see if the fake review subsides in your search results before responding to it. Some fall to page 2 or 3 in Google where they won’t be seen. A prompt response could signal that the content is relevant to your brand, pushing them higher in the search results.

  • Cast doubt.

Explain calmly that you have no record of the incident that matches the reviewer’s name or situation. State that you take customer service seriously and offer to resolve the issue via phone call or email. This way, readers may doubt the validity of the complaint and see your efforts to fix issues professionally.

  • Talk to the readers.

The fake reviewer will likely never read your response. Hence, reply in a way that you want your potential customers to see your company. Use facts and bullet points to help build your case.

Instead of review sites that are often frequented by fake reviewers, having customer reviews, and being listed on online business directories like ArchList would be better for your business. Claim or add your business today and start boosting your online presence!

Sources: Forbes | Invesp | BrightLocal |


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