Customer Reviews: Why they are important and how to manage them.

Positive online reviews make a company more trustworthy. 72% of consumers say that positive reviews improve the trustworthiness of a local business.* But it’s not all about the rating.

What this article is going to cover…

  • Volume of reviews
  • Recency of reviews
  • How to encourage reviews
  • Review platforms
  • Responding to reviews
  • Showcasing your reviews

Volume of Reviews

When looking at online reviews, customers will read 10 or more reviews before making a decision. But they are not only evaluating the business’s overall rating. Customers are looking at how many reviews the business has received over time. Prospective customers want to see an average of 40 online reviews before they’ll believe a business’s star rating.*

Small businesses that offer higher end products or who have a specialized type of a customers may find it to be difficult to obtain a large number of reviews. However, you also have a prime opportunity to solicit feedback, mention writing a review and explaining how it helps you to your guests while they are on the experience.

Google understands the importance of online reviews. Local businesses that rank well on Google have 47 or more reviews.** And Google often ranks other review platforms on the first page of search results when people search for your business, so don’t put all your focus on obtaining reviews on one platform. TripAdvisor, Yelp and Facebook are just a few of the different tools, in addition to Google, for collecting online reviews from your customers.

Recency of Reviews

Consumers know businesses change over time. There are many reasons such as new management, upgrades to product offerings or renovations of facilities that will factor into either better or worse customer satisfaction. 40% of consumers will only look at online reviews written within the past 2 weeks.* Point being, once you reach the 5 star rating you’ve been dreaming about be sure to continue your efforts to obtain new customer reviews.

How To Encourage Reviews

Customers are more likely to post about a negative experience than a positive one. So, it’s important to come up with a strategy to encourage your customers to write reviews. The more overall reviews you receive the more it will balance out the few negative reviews.

A few simple ways to encourage reviews:

  1. Ask your customer face-to-face for a review and tell them where they can go to submit one
  2. Hand out promotional materials like flyers or business cards that include review sites and mention “Review Us”
  3. Send automated follow up emails or text messages to your customers after they visit encouraging them to write a review
  4. Include links to your listings in the footer of all customer communication emails and on your website
  5. All of the above!

When sending out follow up messages, make it as easy as possible for your guests to write their raving review about your services! Provide links directly to your Google Business listing, TripAdvisor, Facebook page or other platforms your potential customers will use to find you. Be careful to abide by the regulations of the platform, Yelp does not allow you to solicit reviews and will penalize your search rankings if you are reported doing so. Be sure to read the User Guidelines to determine best and legal practices.

Never pay customers for reviews! Consumers are savvy enough to realize when this is being done and it creates a biased view of your business. Remember, we’re trying to create a level of trust here.

Which Review Platform Should You Be On?

Identify what platforms your guests are going to be using to do their research before making their decision. Google should be on the top of your list – so be sure you claim your business listing. Then completely fill out the profile and add some photos. If you provide tours in an area but you don’t have a physical location, you can add a service area instead. For the travel and tourism industry you should consider TripAdvisor and Yelp.

TripAdvisor: This is one of the most popular sites for travel planning. However, if you are a tour operator that only offers mutli-day adventures and are not a physical point of interest, you do not meet their listing guidelines.

Yelp: In my experience, Yelp is the hardest review platform to work with. They don’t take every review into consideration for your overall rating. They also have strict rules against asking for reviews. If you get only positive reviews because you are that amazing…they might flag your account for suspicious activity. I wouldn’t put much time and effort into Yelp, but it is still important to monitor and respond to reviews here.

If you sell tours or lodging on sites like Groupon, TripAdvisor Experiences or Airbnb they collect their own verified reviews from your guests.

You need to do some research to determine what review sites you are currently on (yes, even if you didn’t create a listing you might still find one for your business). Consider where you want to be and what sites deserve the most attention for monitoring and responding to the reviews.

Responding to Reviews

The importance of generating positive online reviews is clear, take the time to use the feedback your customers provide. Not only do reviews allow potential customers to make a more informed decision about your products or services, but it allows your management team to make decisions to help improve them! Take the time to thank customers for their review or to respond to and clarify negative reviews. 89% of prospective customers read the business owner’s response to online reviews.*

Never respond to negative reviews in a defensive manner. Thank them for their feedback and ensure the reviewer that someone is looking into the issue. If you can identify the customer, reach out to them personally to see how you could have made their experience better.

Every business should have a policy in place when it comes to monitoring and engaging with their online reviews.

Showcase Your Customer Reviews

Now you have received a bunch of amazing reviews and recommendations from your customers! It’s time to highlight them on your website and social media. Share reviews on your social media accounts and elaborate on their experience if there is more to the story. There are various plug ins for your website to automatically include recent reviews from different platforms. This way you can highlight the best and most recent reviews with very little effort.

Not sure where to start? Whatever Marketing offers digital marketing services for experience oriented businesses. We can help create your follow up email campaigns! Or, contact me today for some one-on-one consulting sessions to get you started.

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