Study: 82% of Consumers Read Online Reviews for Local Businesses

Jun 22, 2020 | Research, Strategy

The number of consumers who look at online reviews has continuously increased as our world has progressively become more and more digitized. Ample research on this subject has been conducted, and the results emphasize the importance of customer reviews, both good and bad, for local businesses.

According to a recent online reviews study from BrightLocal, 82% of consumers said that they read online reviews at least sometimes, with 36% saying they “always” read online reviews before making a purchase decision. For these reasons, the quantity and quality of online reviews can ultimately make or break a company’s future trajectory.

Online Reviews Help People Make Decisions

Online reviews are a way for you to personally connect to and communicate with past, current, and future consumers. Customer feedback is a gift and giving them an opportunity to share their feedback is a great way to provide them with opportunities for their voices to be heard and valued. By interacting with your customers, they will know that you are primarily interested in them.

Online reviews don’t just help your business – they help potential customers make decisions and get to know your business. Your reviews allow customers to learn in-depth about your products and/or services, and they inform you on what is working and what isn’t. In this way, it’s a win-win-win – you give customers a chance to voice their feelings, you get extremely valuable feedback and you help potential customers learn about your business.

Quantity vs. Quality of Reviews

Typically, consumers read ten reviews before making a purchasing decision. Through reading multiple reviews, customers can comprehend your business’ profile, and what they should expect if they decide to work with you. Unlike well-known businesses, local businesses need to develop a reputation for themselves, and the best way to do this is to establish a strong online presence with reviews.

Online reviews are also a great way for you to differentiate yourself from your competitors. As customers read online reviews, they are able to grasp onto the unique characteristics of your product/service. The more a customer understands how your product/service suits their particular wants/needs, the greater value they see in investing. Furthermore, customers look for businesses that are accountable, can be trusted, and have good ethics/values. All of these factors can be determined with reading online reviews.

The Importance of Having an Online Review Process

It is important that you provide customers with multiple ways to communicate with you and discover your online profile. In the digital world, customers of different ages should be able to interact with your business in different ways. The more data you are able to gather through online reviews, the more details you have to work with. Furthermore, customers pay attention to how recent the reviews are, so it is essential that you always have people engaging in your online review sites.

Being that you are a growing business, it is important that your review sites are easily accessible. Thus, after every purchase, customers should be presented with the opportunity to review your product or service. You should make leaving a review simple as it will increase your chances of obtaining them. You should also encourage customers to supply pictures with their reviews.

Don’t Be Afraid of Negative Reviews

91% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product/service if the majority of their online reviews are positive. However, not everyone interacts with a product/service in the same way, making each individual customer’s experience different.

It is inevitable that some customers have a better experience than others. Despite the fact that positive reviews lead to a higher chance of sealing the deal, you should definitely encourage customers to leave their honest opinion in the review section, whether it be negative or positive. Do not disregard negative feedback.

With analyzing and valuing every customer’s opinion, you can learn which areas of your business and/or product/service can and should improve. You should think of negative reviews as constructive criticism that reveal how to make the overall customer experience better.

Responding to Reviews

Obviously, you can’t guarantee all positive reviews, but you do have control over how you respond to reviews. Customers want to know that the business cares about them, and responding to reviews is the perfect way to do so. Taking the time out of your day to reply to a customer demonstrates that the business is client-focused and actually cares. In fact, 71% of customers say that they are more likely to use a business that responds to their reviews.

It is of the utmost importance to deliver outstanding customer experiences, and proactively replying to reviews shows total commitment. If customers feel valued now, they are more likely to make purchases in the future as well. Ensuring that customers get proper treatment includes providing exceptional service, quickly responding to customer feedback and making adjustments to your business where required.

When taking the time to respond, there are some best practices. Be sure to thank everyone for their feedback, negative or positive. If the review is negative, you should try to understand the customers perspective and find a way to make it right by offering a discount, refunding their purchase or doing some gesture that shows you are listening, and you care. Doing this as quickly as possible is critical.