Online Reviews Increasingly Influential In Customer Behavior

Online reviews 4456For seven out of every 10 customers, positive reviews of a company inspire trust, and nine out of 10 do read online reviews before making a purchase, according to a recent Local Consumer Review Survey. Many buyers are increasingly seeing online reviews as one of the most objective tests of a product or service’s quality, even more so than influencer opinions, which can sometimes be ‘tainted’ by sponsorships. If your business has recently received a spate of poor reviews, how can you turn it into a learning experience and boost your overall ratings while ensuring mistakes don’t happen again?

Taking Full Responsibility, Quickly

If a staff member or policy has resulted in a barrage of complaints, the first step is to acknowledge complaints and show a sincere commitment to remedying the problem caused. A great example of this was provided by Dominion Pest Control, a company that received a complaint about poor phone service. The customer alleged that the staff member had hung up on them when they were trying to reschedule an appointment. The business owner himself answered the review, apologizing profusely and asking if there was any way to rebuild the relationship. The customer then updated the review into a positive one, and the business owner wrote again to thank them for ‘finishing the story’ in a positive light.

Public Commentary

Recent statistics show that 40% of prospective clients will not consider a business with negative reviews. If you have been mentioned on a social media site like Twitter, then you need to publicly answer that comment, announcing you will immediately send the client a direct message to solve the issue. In your communication to the client, be apologetic and empathetic, attempting to at least put them in the position they were before they bought your product or contracted your services. If needs be, give them their money back and perhaps a discount on their next purchase. If the customer still wants to keep the product or service, ensure service is speedy and efficient, so that this image of efficiency and care is what is left in the client’s mind.

Permanent Online Reviews

Neither Google Reviews, Yelp, nor TripAdvisor allow negative reviews to be removed. This means that these opinions about your company will remain even if you’ve completely solved the client’s problem to their satisfaction. If so, you should have built a good enough rapport with the client to ask them to delete their negative review. As noted by Complaints Base, it is vital to have one-on-one communication between the client and an empathetic, socially intelligent member of staff. The latter can let the client know of the importance of online reviews to their company, and let them know that although there is no obligation to erase the review, it would be very helpful to the company.

Analyzing Reviews Of Your Company

When you receive negative reviews, it is important to analyze the the complaints. Most sites will enable you to gauge how many reviews the person has left, what ratings they have given other companies, and how frequently they review companies and services. To truly make a difference to the ratio between five- and one-star reviews, you need to know the source of your client’s biggest complaints so you can nip it in the bud. Is packaging the problem? Or does the issue lie deeper – perhaps with the quality of specific products? Negative reviews are valuable sources of information that should influence your product and service strategies.

Focusing On The Good

In addition to making structural or procedural changes to ensure big mistakes or problems do not occur again, you also need to bring up your positive ratio by providing incentives to happy clients for their reviews. For instance, you may give a small discount on the next purchase for each review left, or organize a raffle prize among those who have left a review after making a purchase. Bad news tends to sound louder and look bigger than good news, so the more positive reviews you get, the better.

Online users have become savvy buyers who frequently rely on reviews for small and large purchases alike. However, most are wise enough to read up to around 10 reviews before making a decision. Deal with complaints, use the information they provide to your advantage, and fix the problem, providing restitution if required. Finally, ask each and every customer (via email) to review your company, providing loyalty bonuses to those who do so. Remember that their positive reviews may be the 10 that your next client reads before adding your products to their cart.