Do you have a way of collecting customer testimonials and reviews from your customers? If not, you should. Online reviews may be more critical to your business success than you think.

Gone are the days of casual shopping. Yes, specialty boutiques still pop up in both large cities and small towns, providing an interesting diversion for those with time on their hands. But for everyday purchases, most customers go online to find and purchase what they need quickly. This get-it-now method of shopping applies not only to hard goods — products you can see and touch like clothing, toiletries, groceries, etc. — but to services as well. Painters, roofers, electricians, house cleaners, and landscapers all have an online presence now. So do accountants, business consultants, dog groomers, and window washers.

But shopping online for goods and services brings a new set of challenges. Everyone seems to be represented online, and the choices get overwhelming. How do you tell one auto repair shop from another? How do you know who’s honest and who isn’t? That’s where online customer reviews come in.

Online Reviews Rule!

Review sites like Google, Yelp, Amazon, Facebook, and Angi (formerly Angie’s List) collect reviews and testimonials across all industries, resulting in a massive database of consumer opinions on goods, services, and the shopping experience. For reference, Yelp has over 244 million reviews, and Angi has grown to over five million subscribers. Those are just two of the many review sites available. 

According to a 2021 study by Oberlo, 89% of customers consult these review sites before making a purchase, and eight of 10 shoppers peruse them before making an in-person visit to a local business. That’s a lot of eyeballs looking for information about your business before ever contacting you directly.

Most consumers consider customer reviews to be authoritative and put as much stock in them as they would a personal reference from a friend. They look through online reviews before making a purchase because they’re looking for quality products and services at a reasonable price. They don’t want to waste time running from one place to another looking for the best deal or the most trustworthy service provider. Online reviews speed up the purchase process, allowing shoppers to get what they need with relatively little stress during the experience.

No Reviews?

So what happens if you don’t have any customer reviews? Worse, what if someone gives you a bad review?

Statistics show that consumers spend about 31% more at a business with positive reviews compared to one with no reviews or negative reviews. If you’re not making it easy for your customers to leave feedback about your service or products, you’re missing out on this additional revenue. And since 86% of consumers hesitate to do business with a company that has negative reviews, it’s in your best interest to offer high-quality products and services every time to every customer— and deliver them with a smile and a friendly attitude.

What About Bad Reviews?

Most people know it’s not possible to please all people all the time, and consumers will forgive a negative review or two in a sea of positive ones. Let’s face it. Sometimes projects go awry, or things happen that are beyond your control. These should be the exception, not the rule. Consumers trust companies with positive online reviews, and most people who look at reviews before making a purchase look at more than one. One rogue negative review is usually taken with a grain of salt — or at least with an open mind.

Here’s the thing. People like to talk trash, and far more tell friends and neighbors about a bad experience with a company than a good one. Survey results back this up. A study by Dimensional Research found that 95% of respondents who had a bad experience with a company were likely to talk about it compared to 87% who had a good experience. That makes striving for excellence in all aspects of your business even more important.

Whatever you do, don’t censor negative reviews. Consumers don’t trust companies that engage in such behavior, feeling they must have something to hide. If you get a negative review, respond to the reviewer quickly and try to set things right. You often gain a lifelong customer by handling an unfortunate situation in a positive, friendly, and professional manner.

Give Customers a Place to Comment

Make the collection of customer reviews part of your marketing strategy. Give your clients easy access to Google, Facebook, or any other review platform you use. Proactively reach out and ask people to leave a review so that others can learn about their experience doing business with you. Positive online reviews help build your credibility, drive sales, and encourage repeat business. Don’t miss out on your share of that additional 31% spent with companies that have a slew of good reviews. Reach out to your clients today!