Today, many business owners know that online reviews are the bread and butter of their online reputation. In fact, many customers rely on reviews as a primary signal of whether they should choose to do business with a particular company. Let’s explore the signs of trustworthiness that potential customers are looking for when reading your reviews, as knowing how to build your online reputation is essential to capturing more market share.
Here’s a brief rundown of the many factors that customers look for when choosing with whom they’d like to do business.
Consistency / Number of Reviews:
As a business owner you want to have a continual stream of reviews coming into your main platforms (see our review website list) regardless of whether that’s Google, Facebook, or an industry specific review platform. Although business owners can’t dictate (for the most part) where customers post, or how often, the key here is to receive consistent reviews for at least 1-2 platforms. Note that reviews older than 3 months are generally ignored by prospective consumers as they do not consider it to hold much relevant value.
Style of Response:
Whether the 5-star, the 3-star, or the dreaded 1-star review, your responses as an owner are very important and highly valuable to consumers. The way you reply matters! Have a humanized approach to all your review responses, but likewise don’t pat yourself on the back too much or you’ll seem self-aggrandizing. Also, and we can’t emphasize this enough, never use generic responses or templated responses for any type of review. Another thing to keep in mind is that as difficult as it may seem, when responding to 1-star reviews, do not get defensive, you can always take the complaint resolution offline if it can’t be directly resolved. Most certainly dissatisfied customers just want to be heard, so pick up the phone or email them before attempting to respond to their online complaint (if this is an option). Your responses prove to the customer that no matter what happens, you as a business care and are trying to deliver quality products/services. Finally, be sure to reply to all reviews, by doing so it shows that you as a business are engaged, transparent, and care about feedback.
Most platforms including Google, Facebook, and Trip Advisor to name a few, will allow customers to upload photos. Photos are a great way for any business, no matter the size or industry, to give a customer a “behind the scenes” look into the business. Whether a dentist, hair salon, HVAC provider, or a hotel, it’s an amazing feature to use in highlighting aspects of your business. Not all customers will upload photos, so don’t rely on them to add this value to your online presence. In general, those who upload photos tend to be local Google guides, Trip Advisor travel fans, or are regular general reviewers. That said, don’t expect uploads, but likewise do not be shocked if you see photos appear online from reviewers. The visual nature of photos gets extremely high amounts of viewership, especially on Google maps, so get those pictures out there.
This one is very obvious; it is a no-brainer that your “rating” matters to your overall reputation. Typically, a 5.0 overall rating is very difficult to both achieve and maintain. In fact, most businesses that have legendary customer service, impeccably looking after their clients, will hover at ratings between 4.7-4.9. A rating of 4.6 or below is no longer considered to be an exceptional rating, but that doesn’t always mean it is a bad score. A best practice is to check your local competitors and compare their ratings as an indicator of the rating for which you are striving. In general, as a business owner, you may also think that you have no control over reviews, and while that is generally true in large industries, local small to medium size business owners actually have a lot of ability to impact the level of service, thereby likewise impacting the reviews that are ultimately provided.
Number of Reviews:
As the saying goes “the more the merrier,” is reflective of consumer’s penchant for more favourably considering doing business with a company that has more reviews, specifically great reviews (4.7-4.9) and good business responses. Businesses that have under 100 reviews with little to no business engagement are generally not viewed with favour. Because reviews are extremely important, use our beginner’s guide (link goes here) if you need support in growing your online reputation.
Who is the reviewer:
Believe it or not, consumers now look at the actual reviewer. With Google local guides, Trip Advisor, and many other platforms providing the ability to list details on the reviewers, people are taking the time to engage with these profiles and trust particular reviewers. What are they looking for in trusted reviewers? Customers look at the number of reviews that they have left, the type of reviews they leave, and how many reviews they have written versus simply just rating without feedback. If a consumer sees a reviewer who only leaves negative reviews, then this account will likely be discredited as a valuable source of opinion. Balanced online feedback is seen as more credible.
Also, always remember that along with reviews, consumers will check your social media profiles to see if you’ve kept it updated (same goes for your website). On average, consumers check 3 to 10 sources for business information before settling on a company with which to buy a service or a product. With so many avenues in which to provide accurate input for customers, be sure to check out our beginner’s guide to effectively handling online reputation management.