This question is best answered by simply saying, how do they not? Online reviews and customer trust are completely intertwined and dependent on one another.
In today’s market, the purchasing decision starts for many consumers online. They research about their problems online, learn about your company, decide whether or not they trust you and purchase products and services all online. This is why you are pouring more and more money into optimizing your online presence with a well-designed website and engaging social media platforms.
However, even if your website is top of the line and you have millions of followers, there is one thing that can slash your credibility overnight, poor online reviews. Reputation management has never been more critical as more and more consumers depend wholeheartedly on online reviews when making purchasing decisions.
A survey company called BrightLocal recently published their findings from an annual Local Consumer Review Survey. This survey received 2,104 responses from people all over the United States and Canada. Based on this research, BrightLocal reported that 88% of consumers have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business. This means that the first impression of your business is no longer decided by your storefront, but rather by what other customers deem appropriate to comment on the internet.
Now, the trick is getting this trend to operate in your favor, because it sure is not going away. More and more consumers are reporting every year that online reviews help them to actually build trust in a company. Most recently, 88% of respondents said that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. This is up from 79% the year before, so that percentage is just likely to continue reaching upwards.
Businesses that have embraced this trend are using it to their advantage and seeing incredible success. Rather than just passively awaiting people to decide to write positive reviews, give incentives to encourage customers to write online reviews of your products and services. Another way to increase trust is to not shy away or hide from your online reviews. Make it easy for consumers to find them and promote them proudly on your website. This shows that you are confident enough to introduce potential customers to an open, critical platform, not just your controlled resources.
Another important principle to remember is that no online reviews may as well be negative reviews. According to the survey, 85% of consumers are reading at least ten online reviews before making a purchasing decision. Consumers are becoming more and more skeptical, so they require an even larger sample size. One or two reviews, will not be convincing. No reviews are an even worse sign. Again, this is why encouraging online reviews is so critical.
Some companies have decided to stay away from online reviews out of fear of a negative review. This is valid concern because poor reviews definitely can have a scary impact. However, if you are prepared to deal with the risks you can enjoy the benefit. For example, when you do come across a particularly negative review, you have a lot of options of what to do with it. First of all, communication is key. Use it as a learning opportunity and reach out to the disgruntled person. Apologize for their negative experience and offer some compensation if you can. Once the situation is handled and you have a satisfied customer, it might be appropriate to ask them to take down their review or at least write another one about their customer service experience.
To sum up, online reviews are a vital piece of building consumer trust in the 21st century business world.
Written by Nicole Richards