Why online reviews are important

I’ve recently come back from a trip to the States, and while I’m an obsessive planner who had most of the restaurants and activities planned months in advance, there were a few situations that required on-the-spot decisions regarding where to eat. Normally, this fills me with anxiety - if I have a bad meal in New York, that’s one less meal I get to eat there! Gah! So, I turned to the internets to help me in my decision making process.

When you’re in a similar situation, either locally or when travelling, how do you make decisions about where to get a massage, have lunch, or even where to stay? Online reviews have become so much a part of our decision making process, we almost don’t think about it any more. We sometimes come across clients or business owners who want to turn off reviews on Facebook, or lament the ‘Masterchef culture’ that has resulted in just about everyone thinking they are a food critic, but the reality is that online reviews can really boost your biz - if you’re smart about it.

Here’s a few tips for making the most of online reviews:

  1. See every review as an opportunity to gather feedback, make improvements and built rapport and loyalty. A customer is taking the time to share their thoughts with you, so use the opportunity to have a genuine online engagement just as you would if a customer came into your physical location store.
  2. Make sure you respond to reviews, both good and bad. But if you’re responding to a bad review, don’t fly off the handle! Take a couple of hours to simmer down and think about whether what someone’s said has validity, and respond calmly and accurately. Always offer to make the experience right for the customer if they’ve have a negative experience, and do so publicly. People can spot a trouble maker a mile off, and if you’ve made an effort to make things right, this will go a long way to bolster your reputation.
  3. Actively claim listings for your business, whether they are on Yelp, Zomato, Facebook or a specific industry forum. This will mean you will get notifications when someone shares a review, and you’ll be able to respond quickly. If you’re not part of the conversation, you’ll be on the back foot.
  4. Don’t stress about reviews that are less than 5 stars. Research indicates that people are more trusting of businesses that have an imperfect rating, because it seems more realistic.
  5. Encourage your customers to leave you reviews if they’ve had a great experience. There’s nothing wrong with weighting the deck in your favour!

Using the internet to search for products to purchase and compare experiences and products is now part of our everyday experience, and you can make it a real selling tool for you. 

Claire Deane