Industry research shows that review interaction — searching for or filtering reviews or clicking to expand and read the entire review has gone up by 50% since the Covid19 pandemic. People have heightened sensitivity about what to purchase and which businesses to support in the wake of the pandemic.
The subject of online reviews has long been a contentious one. Businesses who have been doing it tough during the pandemic have never been more vulnerable to online reputation and reviews, but it's a two-way street. The reading and leaving of reviews and ratings both play a critical part in the buyer's journey. So while businesses might currently be more susceptible to online scrutiny, they also need public feedback to help build trust and drive sales.
For businesses, it's not just a matter of waiting to see what customers write and then responding as required. Companies must manage online reputations. It's an opportunity to create a positive online presence and begin the customer experience well before someone becomes a customer.
Having a solid online rating with plenty of current reviews is critical for any business in today's world, from restaurants to hotels, retail to wholesale and consumer goods to business services. In fact, 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review. (dixa.com)
Why are ratings and reviews so important, and can they be trusted?
Research shows that most consumers trust online reviews. This makes sense when you think about how much time we spend on websites searching for information, especially when buying products and services. We expect to get a fair assessment of products and services before making a purchase. Therefore, reviews are the most trusted source of information.
But why is this? Is it because online reviews are written by real people who have spent time with a company, or are they just easier to read and understand? There are many reasons why consumers trust online reviews, and here are some of the most common:
Reviews give customers a second opinion.
When you read a review on a website, you can quickly understand how another person has experienced a product or service. Of course, you might not always agree with the assessment, but you can use it to make your own informed decision.
Reviews help customers to identify quality products and services.
In today's world, it's hard to know what you're getting when it comes to services and products. Potential customers read reviews to see whether a product or service is of high quality. Therefore, businesses must have positive online reviews and ratings to help them stand out and attract customers.
Social proof builds trust.
We’re more likely to purchase when others around us, even total strangers, agree that it’s a good decision. Online reviews are the most significant source of social proof, and they have a direct impact on sales. Positive messaging by others, even strangers, creates a perception of authenticity and builds trust. For example, Beyond friends and family, 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. (bigcommerce.com)
Reviews drive the decision-making process.
Many consumers now look to social media or sites like Google and Yelp as their first step in the purchase process. They prioritize peer reviews and user stories. Gone are the days when people would meet up in town and choose a restaurant at random. Instead, research is done beforehand, and online reviews and ratings are the main criteria in the decision-making process. By creating a steady stream of reviews, your brand is more likely to show up when customers are making their next shopping decision.
An active brand with constant ratings and written reviews will rank higher in online searches, giving your website more exposure and visibility. By encouraging feedback and reviews, you're broadening your reach, getting more exposure and increasing your organic traffic.
Positive and authentic reviews build trust and credibility. Customers are looking at what people say about your product or service and how your business responds.
Your customers love seeing their comments and reviews, but it's important to note that these comments are public. Customers and potential customers will judge your speed and tone in responding to feedback, especially if it is negative. They will also appreciate your response to positive feedback. This public customer engagement builds trust and credibility for your brand. It's your chance to show an element of personalization and show that you take all forms of feedback seriously and treat each customer as an individual rather than cut and paste a standard response. One study found that answering a customer complaint on social media can increase advocacy by as much as 25%, and not responding to it can decrease customer advocacy by 50%. (Convince & Convert)
In summary, if your business wants to deliver an exceptional customer experience, you need to measure and manage your online reputation and respond accordingly.
To ensure that your customers leave your business an exceptional review, it's time to ensure that your customer experience is truely omnichannel.