People are talking
As a small business, word of mouth advertising is still the most powerful marketing tool around. Providing a great customer experience not only helps secure repeat business, it also gives you the best shot at getting a new sale when the happy customer tells someone else about your company.
Now think about that person telling not just one friend, but hundreds or thousands! That is exactly the potential when a customer of yours, for good or evil, goes online and posts a review on your small business.
Online reviews and the role they play for business today
The process of getting customers for your small business has changed so much over the last few years. Gone are the days when putting an ad in the newspaper and hanging a “BIG SALE” sign in the window gets the job done. Your business competes on the Internet with all sorts of competition, both local and worldwide. If you have not come to grips with that yet, you are probably being dominated by your competitors who have.
Today, a large part of a customer’s decision on who to spend their money with is based on online reviews. An online review is simply someone typing in his or her opinion about your business, product or service. There are dozens of places on the Internet for a customer to get this done today. Some examples of the largest and most popular are Yelp, CityPages, BBB, and Foursquare.
If you are wondering just how widespread and important online reviews are to today’s customers, take a look at the following information…
- An amazing 90% of customers claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decision —Zendesk survey
- Almost 90% of consumers have looked at online reviews in the last 12 months to help them make a decision on a local business. What’s more, 39% read such reviews on a regular basis — BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2014
- 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, with 7 out of 10 consumers taking positive action to contact the business after they read reviews — BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey 2014
- Of customers that make a purchase, a previous online review was used as the sole consideration to make that purchase almost one quarter of the time. — Localeze
- Online reviews are trusted by 70% of all shoppers. That level of trust is in the same neighborhood as information from people they actually know, otherwise known as word of mouth. — Nielsen
The above chart identifies the five most important factors that customers use to judge a business (your business) on its’ reviews.
- Overall star rating
- It may seem unfair to reduce all your hard work, products and services down to a 1-5 star rating but that is the reality of the competitive environment in which you compete
- #1 consideration for choosing a business based on a review
- Harvard Business School Professor Michael Luca found that a one-star increase in a Yelp rating leads to a 5 percent to 9 percent bump in revenue!
- Quantity of reviews
- More reviews give the impression that your business is the leader in your community
- Sentiment of reviews
- This is whether the reviews are mostly positive or negative
- Obviously, you want positive reviews. However, there are ways to manage and even take advantage of negative reviews
- Age of reviews
- Customers want to know about recent events and transactions
- If your last review was 2 years ago, customers view might view you as not worthy of their patronage
- If business has responded to reviews
- A negative review is bad for business. A negative review that your business didn’t respond to is a killer.
- The impression that you do not care enough about customer service to even take the time to respond tells customers to stay away
- This one hurts so much because of the fact that most businesses do care, they are simply unaware of the review in the first place
Using what you know
You now know
- that your business is probably being reviewed
- that customers place great value on these reviews
- the top considerations customers use for picking a business based on reviews
Putting this knowledge to work is what Small Biz Media does for its clients. We will gather reviews on your small business from dozens of sources on the Internet. Because we are keeping watch, we can inform you when you have a review posted which means you are always aware. This takes care of the “If business has responded to reviews” factor that is so important. Small Biz Media can discuss and help you implement techniques and processes that will help with getting frequent reviews “Age of reviews“, better reviews “Overall star rating” and “Sentiment of reviews” and more reviews in general “Quantity of reviews“.
If your small business has the top five factors customers use to judge a business covered; how much of an advantage will that give you?
Having a positive effect on customer opinion at all points of contact
As a small business owner, you know there are multiple points of contact with your customers. What you might not be taking advantage of though is your ability to affect and influence customer opinion at each of these contact points. You might think customer experience is just some marketing term that has nothing to do with the real world of operating your business. You could not be more wrong. The customer experience represents all phases of the relationship your business has with every customer from the earliest point, awareness of your company, all the way through to the service after the sale. Taking steps to manage and protect your reputation is key throughout the process.
Some of the major contact points along the way are
- Awareness – the first time a customer becomes aware of your business
- Research – time spent by the customer gathering information, from all sources, about your business
- First contact – the customer walks into your store, asks for information in an email or on your website, or calls you on the phone
- Purchase – a good or service from your business is bought by the customer
- Customer service – attention given to the customer after a purchase has been made
There are other, finer, points between some of these depending on the type of service or product in question. Your business must succeed on all points to create loyalty and influence opinion. If your company delivers at all of these contact points, you have probably gained a faithful customer, the all-valuable word of mouth advertising, and favorable online reviews.
If you are like most small businesses, you probably have some work ahead of you. However, you now have the information you need to take control and make review monitoring and management part of your marketing strategy. Small Biz Media can gather and monitor online reviews of your business from many of the top review sites on the Internet. We can inform and advise you when the review is negative to help minimize any impact on your business. On the other side, we will integrate the positive reviews into the rest of the marketing plan we develop to make that plan even stronger.