Some prominent review sites include:
- General & Local Businesses: CitiSearch, Local.com, ConsumerAffairs
- Product & Service Reviews: Viewpoints
- Handmade & Vintage: Etsy
- Books: Goodreads
- Automobiles: Cars.com, Edmunds, CarGuru
- Services & Freelancers: Care.com, Thumbtack, Fiverr
- Food & Restaurants: Zomato
- Travel & Accommodation: VRBO, Airbnb
- Real Estate & Housing: Zillow, Houzz, Apartments.com
- Financial: Bankrate
- Apps: Apple Apps Store, Google Play
What is a Customer Review?
What is a Customer Review?
Customer reviews are a form of customer feedback. They usually include some text, as well as a star rating of 1 to 5 stars, with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent. While there are many places you can find online business listings, the sites below go beyond listings and are popular places for customers to leave reviews.
A customer review is a powerful tool in the digital era, acting as a word-of-mouth endorsement or critique based on firsthand experience. Beyond its basic definition, a customer review can significantly influence a potential customer’s perception and decision-making process. About 72% of U.S. consumers have written a review for a local business.
Reviews create a sense of community around a brand, with customers often engaging in discussions and sharing experiences. There are various forms of customer reviews:
- Text Reviews: The most common form, offering detailed opinions and experiences.
- Video Reviews: Growing in popularity, these provide a visual and personal touch, often perceived as more authentic and engaging.
- Image-Based Reviews: Customers share photos of the product in use, providing visual proof of their experience.
The psychological impact of these reviews is profound. Positive reviews can build a sense of trust and reliability around a brand, while negative reviews can raise red flags for potential customers.
However, even negative reviews, when managed well, can demonstrate a company’s commitment to customer satisfaction and improvement.
The Benefits of Business Reviews
Potential customers often trust peer reviews over traditional advertisements or promotions. This trust stems from the belief that fellow consumers provide unbiased, genuine experiences. Businesses with higher ratings and positive reviews often enjoy greater credibility in the market, resulting in increased customer acquisition.
Feedback, both positive and negative, can be invaluable for businesses looking to refine their products, services, or overall customer experience. By acting on customer insights, businesses can address underlying issues, improve their offerings, and demonstrate a commitment to customer satisfaction.
Positive reviews can significantly bolster a business’s online reputation. The algorithms of many review platforms promote businesses with higher ratings, making them more visible to potential customers. This increased visibility can drive more traffic to a company’s website or physical location, potentially leading to increased sales and growth.
Engagement and Customer Relationship Building
Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, offers businesses a chance to engage directly with their customer base. Addressing concerns, thanking customers for positive feedback, or offering solutions to problems can foster customer loyalty and show potential clients that the business values its community.
Informed Decision Making
Reviews can act as a gauge for understanding market trends, consumer preferences, and areas of innovation. By analyzing feedback patterns, businesses can make data-informed decisions about product development, marketing strategies, and service improvements, ensuring they remain competitive and relevant in their industry.
5 Tips for Leveraging Business Review Sites
The following best practice tips will help you use online review sites to get highly sought-after, positive reviews.
Claim Your Business Profile
Claiming your business profile on various review sites is a crucial first step in managing your online presence. When you claim your profile on platforms like Yelp, Google My Business, and TripAdvisor, it allows you to manage the information displayed about your business. This includes updating contact details, business hours, and responding to customer reviews.
Once claimed, it’s essential to regularly update your profile. For example, posting about any new services, special events, or promotions can keep your profile fresh and engaging. It’s also a platform to showcase your business’s personality through photos and posts.
On Google My Business, for instance, regularly updating your profile can improve your visibility in local search results, making it easier for potential customers to find you.
Encourage Business Reviews
Encouraging customers to leave reviews is a delicate but essential part of managing your online reputation. Start by creating a culture that values customer feedback.
Train your staff to remind customers to leave reviews post-purchase or service. You can also use follow-up emails or texts as gentle reminders.
Remember to make the process as easy as possible for customers. Provide direct links to your review profiles in your digital communications.
On-site, QR codes that lead directly to review platforms can be a convenient option for customers.
Embrace each review as the equivalent of free advertising and an integral part of your digital marketing through happy customers.
Don’t Incentivize Reviews
While it’s important to encourage reviews, offering rewards or incentives for them can backfire. It’s essential to adhere to the guidelines of review platforms. Incentivizing reviews can lead to biased feedback and may violate the terms of service of many platforms.
Instead, focus on creating exceptional customer experiences that naturally prompt customers to leave positive reviews. If customers express satisfaction in person or via email, suggest that they share their experience online. Always express gratitude for any feedback given, whether incentivized or not.
Don’t Write Fake Reviews
The temptation to bolster your business’s online presence with fake reviews should be avoided at all costs. Fake reviews can severely damage your credibility and can lead to penalization by review platforms.
Consumers are increasingly savvy at spotting inauthentic reviews, and getting caught can result in long-term damage to your reputation.
Focus on authentic customer experiences and use negative reviews as an opportunity to show how your business responds constructively to criticism. Transparency and honesty in your online presence are critical to building lasting trust with your audience.
Respond to Negative Reviews
Handling negative reviews with grace and professionalism is crucial for maintaining your business’s reputation. When responding to a negative review, it’s important to remain calm, professional, and empathetic. Apologize if necessary and offer to rectify any legitimate issues raised.
Your response should be personalized, addressing the specific concerns of the reviewer. Offer to continue the conversation offline to find a resolution. This not only helps to potentially salvage a customer relationship but also shows other customers that you’re committed to their satisfaction.
Publicly responding to and resolving negative reviews can turn a potentially harmful situation into a display of excellent customer service.
It turns out that 30% of consumers reverse negative reviews on online review sites when the company responds, according to a survey by ZenBusiness. Yet, only 12% of consumers say their reviews are often or always responded to. Therefore, by responding, you gain a real advantage over all the other small businesses that never respond.
Do I Still Need My Own Website if I Have Review Site Listings?
You should always have your own company website. Some businesses use their Google My Business profile, Facebook page or other business review sites as a replacement for a website of their own. But this is not wise, for one simple reason: third-party sites are outside of your control.
If Facebook decides — however unjustly — to delete your Page, it could take weeks or months to appeal and get it back, if ever. An effective digital marketing strategy should include both your own website as well as business review sites.
Should I Display Reviews on My Website?
Yes. A number of software apps are available to help with aggregating reviews and displaying them on your site. The software reminds customers to review your business post-sale. The apps also automate collecting reviews that have already been published on third-party sites, and provide widgets so you can embed and display reviews on your own website. Examples: GatherUp, Reviews.io and BirdEye.
Do Customer Review Sites Help with Search Engine Rankings?
Information from business listing sites, including user reviews, can show up high in search results in numerous ways. In particular, GMB and Bing Places information is often displayed prominently in the respective Google search engine and Bing search engine pages and maps. A search engine optimization (SEO) professional who specializes in local SEO can help you with a local SEO strategy and explain more.
Rather than focusing just on rankings, however, think broadly about “visibility”. Review sites give you more places to be found online. Too many small businesses are effectively invisible online. The more review websites your company appears in, with positive ratings, the better.
The internet has given consumers the power to make or break a business’s reputation by leaving reviews on social media sites like Facebook, search engines, or any number of business review sites like Yelp. It’s in your best interest to embrace review sites to make a positive brand impression.
Image via Shutterstock; various screenshots