Needham, Massachusetts (PRESS RELEASE – November 30, 2010) – As consumers around the U.S. flock to the computer for the biggest online shopping day of the year, Cyber Monday, small businesses may not be fully prepared to take advantage of the opportunity, according to new research from RatePoint, a leading provider of customer reviews, testimonials and online reputation management services.
RatePoint found that 39 percent of small businesses agree that customers are searching for them online, but that same amount, 39 percent, disagree that their customers are reading online reviews. However, research from ChannelAdvisor showed that 92 percent of consumers said they read product reviews online. Of those who read reviews, only 3 percent said the review did not affect their purchase decision. Meanwhile, 46 percent were influenced to buy and 43 percent were deterred from purchased based on a review they read online.
“Research shows the majority of consumers are reading online reviews and that they play a major role in purchase decisions,” said Neal Creighton, co-founder and CEO of RatePoint. “SMBs that are not spending time managing the process are missing out on not only potential customers, but also on valuable consumer feedback that can help them to improve their business. This holiday season, customer reviews have moved from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ as search engines like Google are including reviews in results.”
Many SMBs also are not considering online reviews as the new form of customer feedback. RatePoint’s survey found that 50 percent of SMBs agree collecting feedback is valuable for their business, but only 20 percent believe spending time managing online reviews is valuable. On the other hand, 38 percent disagree that spending time managing online reviews is valuable.
“All online retailers need to establish credibility with first-time website visitors,” said Doug Mortensen, owner of www.watchprince.com. “Displaying logos from the BBB, Safe Shopping Network, etc. might help a bit, but they do not resonate with consumers as well as comments from customers with actual shopping experience. RatePoint provides an easy-to-manage solution that allows us to add new reviews with a simple click of the mouse. Our customers can see a composite score for all reviews, providing them with confidence that they are getting the full picture of our level of service.”
RatePoint offers tips for small businesses to prepare for this new breed of customer who researches purchases online, checks a Smartphone for coupons or reviews and expects businesses to respond via social media.
- Be visible. Even if a small business does not conduct e-commerce, it should have an online presence. Go beyond the website and monitor what’s being said about the company through search results, RSS feeds and email alerts.
- Be searchable. Customers will be searching before buying, even if they’re just looking for a location or address. If they don’t find your business in search results, they’ll find your competition.
- If you have it, flaunt it. If feedback and reviews show that customer service is positive, make sure potential customers know about it by showcasing feedback on your website, through search engines, social networks and email newsletters.
- Follow up. Customers want to hear from businesses, especially when they are providing feedback. When a business responds to a customer online, a negative opinion can quickly turn into a positive one.
RatePoint surveyed more than 150 small businesses, the vast majority five employees and under, in August 2010 about opinions on topics such as social media and online reviews.
About RatePoint Inc.
RatePoint Inc., the leading provider of customer reviews, testimonials and online reputation management services, helps businesses protect and build their online reputation, allowing businesses to harness the power of credible customer feedback and leverage it into a sales, marketing and customer service asset.
RatePoint’s easy-to-use, Web-based communication services include customer feedback tools to collect business reviews and product reviews as well as email marketing, survey and dispute resolution capabilities to provide small- and medium-sized businesses with the ability to collect, manage and promote customer feedback directly from their website.