There’s no doubt – online comments matter. There are countless studies that prove it. But don’t take our word for it, let the numbers do the talking:
- 90 percent of customers' buying decisions are influenced by seeing positive online testimonials
- 85 percent of customers use online recommendations to find local businesses
- 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- Small businesses using Yelp see an average annual revenue increase of $8,000 USD
The fact is, people pay attention to the feedback of others.
For example: we ask someone at the next table if what they are eating is good; we ask someone coming out of a three hour movie if it was worth the time commitment; and we take the recommendations of others when it comes to choosing childcare.
Boasting over 77 million reviews, Yelp isn’t the only site offering customer reviews - Google+ Local, Angie’s List, Trip advisor, OpenTable, Dine.TO, and Zomato are among others - but it is one of the largest. With that many reviews, people are clearly paying attention, but are businesses following suit?
As Yelp research points out, 87 percent of small businesses surveyed don’t actively leverage review sites, but with over 77 million comments in circulation, it might be time to start listening.
Whether you are new to managing online reviews or have been listening for years, below are the 4 “ARMS” of online reviews to help you start participating in the conversations:
4 ARMS of online reviews
A – Ask
“It never hurts to ask.” When it comes to online reviews, it certainly doesn’t.
Yelp doesn’t actively encourage businesses to ask for reviews, but it does manufacture “People Love Us On Yelp” or “Find Us On Yelp” stickers for businesses. In other words, you can indirectly promote your business, similar to “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter.” Rather than saying “Hey – say something nice about us online, ” you are asking them to join your circle of friends via one of the many online tools available.
R – Respond
Acknowledge reviewers by thanking them for their business and giving feedback to their feedback.
If it’s a positive review, all the more reason to thank them. If it’s negative, the feedback provides a great opportunity to implement customer-driven changes to your business. Your responses will not only lend validity to the reviews themselves, but also tell readers that you strive to meet customer expectations and provide a positive customer experience.
M – Monitor
Here’s another startling figure – 68 percent of small business owners don’t spend any time monitoring online reviews. Ouch.
Having an online presence is almost mandatory for businesses now, so why overlook the importance of monitoring that presence? In other words – it’s great to show up in a Google search, but don’t let the second result be a scathing review that you simply failed to notice.
Google Alerts is a great way to follow every mention your company receives, whether positive or negative. This also allows you to respond accordingly.
S – Share
What good are all those reviews, if you don’t share them with customers?
You’ve asked for them, responded to them, and monitored for them, so now it’s time to spread the word.
Share a great review on your website, or even put on the wall in your establishment; as further testament to the happiness of your customers.
More importantly, transparency communicates that you are an honest company eager to please its customers. So even sharing constructive criticism that you have effectively resolved, is a worthwhile effort.
The bottom line is – you may receive online reviews, whether you want them or not. So why not manage your online presence to the best of your ability – it could cost you $8,000 a year after all.
This article is for informational purposes only and it is not intended to provide you with any personalized financial, marketing, accounting or tax advice. Neither Moneris Solutions Corporation (Moneris) nor any of its affiliates shall be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential or punitive damages arising out of use of any of the information contained in this article. Neither Moneris nor any of its affiliates warrant or make any representation regarding the use or the results of the use of the information, content and materials contained in this article in terms of their correctness, accuracy, reliability or otherwise.