Review websites are increasing in popularity. Everyday consumers are interested in what real people say about the local businesses and services they’re thinking about using. The facts. Top tips. Everyday consumers are interested in what real people say about the local businesses and services they’re thinking about using. Whether it’s looking for a hotel, choosing a place to eat or drink, or finding a handyman, people are spending more and more time using review sites to make purchase decisions.
For businesses that demonstrate they are listening to their customers there is a huge amount to gain:
- 41% of UK consumers expect a review facility1
- 70% of UK internet users trust recommendations from strangers2
- consumer reviews are 12 times more trusted than product or service descriptions.
Getting the most from online reviews takes time and a positive attitude but the benefits far outweigh any downsides. From time to time, someone may take issue with your business, but for businesses that demonstrate they are listening to their customers there is a huge amount to gain. You are showing you listen to your customers, generate word-of-mouth online, and increase your online reputation. You will have content which you can use on your website and link to your website. This isn’t just content, it’s content which is trusted by new prospective customers more than what you would say about yourself in your own marketing.
How review sites work
Most review sites allow anyone to write and post a review of the businesses featured on their database. They don’t control what’s written of course but that’s why people read them. The trend was first popularised by the service sector, for venues like hotels, bars and restaurants. But increasingly, businesses of all shapes and sizes are being reviewed online. Business owners are not meant to review themselves, but there are some really simple things small businesses can do to raise their own profile for reviewers online. For some, it requires a slightly new approach, even a leap of faith, but there are big rewards to be had if you’re willing to work with online communities.
Top tips for small business owners
- Get customers involved – encourage satisfied customers to post reviews.
- Watch your reputation – check online reviews regularly and respond when needed.
- Be honest – don’t post reviews about your own business, competitors or businesses you haven’t used – it’s a sure-fire way of damaging your online reputation.
- Demonstrate your customer service – remember that any conversation you have on a review will be visible to all visitors to your site – use this as an opportunity to demonstrate the quality of customer service and after-sales care your business provides.
- Consider your response – Before responding to a review, consider the customer’s motivation for writing it. Be seen to listen to customers and respond to legitimate concerns or complaints.
- Consumers are savvy – readers of reviews recognise that any business can have a bad day and want a variety of opinions. They also probe deeper behind an online review, check the reviewer’s record on a site and assign trust appropriately. Positive and negative (or constructive) reviews provide a balanced view for a business, whereas overtly positive or negative reviews may seem suspicious.
- Take a look at an established review site such as Trip Advisor or Yell Reviews, where you can trust the integrity of the reviews. A good review site will have a large and well managed database of businesses that is kept up to date regularly. Trusted Places features over 350,000 UK businesses.
- Review businesses you have used and see what the experience is like and what happens.