As a business owner, you are probably aware of the reviews your company has received on sites like Facebook, Google, and Yelp. You may know from personal experience that receiving a positive review can make you feel good about yourself; and likewise, that seeing a negative one can cause you to feel angry or simply hurt.
Online reviews matter for many reasons, though, well beyond the personal feelings of the business owner. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that the reviews your business receives can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
The Age of Online Research
Why do online reviews matter so much? Simply put, it’s because so many consumers take note of them, and use them to formulate their own opinions about brands, products, and services.
Consider that it’s never been easier for customers to do their due diligence, to spend time researching their major purchasing decisions. A simple Google search allows anyone to view technical specs, compare prices, and yes, consult reviews from other customers.
These online reviews constitute social proof—testimonies from other individuals who have bought the product or service in question—and thus, they can help consumers to shop more confidently. Studies show again and again that consumers place a lot of emphasis on the reviews they see, which is great for companies that have a lot of five-star ratings—but it could be trouble for those who don’t.
Think about this scenario: Your company has four or five Google reviews, with an average rating of 3.5 stars. That’s not terrible, but imagine that your direct competitor has 35 reviews, with an average rating of 4.5 stars. It’s plain to see which brand is the consumer choice, and because Google makes it easy for online shoppers to weigh these two options against each other, it’s likely that the more poorly reviewed brand will see a drop-off in interest.
But Can Online Reviews Be Trusted?
Some business owners may still be skeptical; they may wonder how online reviews can possibly carry that much weight. After all, aren’t online reviews inherently untrustworthy? Can’t anyone post an anonymous review, regardless of whether they’ve even used the product or service in question?
Actually, that kind of thing isn’t as common as you might think. In fact, Google has made anonymous reviews a thing of the past; these days, you can only leave Google reviews when signed into your verified account, which is connected to personal information. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can believe every word of every online review—people can still fudge the truth—but it does mean that each Google review is connected to an actual human being. And that makes those reviews far easier to trust.
A Single Review Can Make a Big Difference
Reviews inform customer opinion, and they establish the narrative surrounding your brand. Now, hopefully, your company will receive a lot of reviews, with the vast majority of them being positive. Yet it’s important to remember that each individual review is potentially significant—and that could be for good or for ill.
Due to the vagaries of the Google Search algorithms, a review that’s deemed to be helpful to people may show up as one the of the featured snippets, any time people search for your brand. In other words, a single review could define what people think about your business, potentially for years. Once again, that’s okay if the review in question is a five-star rave. If it’s a two-star pan, however, it could obviously be problematic.
Can You Remove the Reviews You Don’t Like?
You may wonder if it’s possible to have offending reviews taken down—and the short answer here is that it’s quite unlikely.
As a business owner, you can’t delete other people’s reviews. Google can do it if the review is salaciously bad—but that almost never happens, as Google will almost always err on the side of the reviewer’s freedom of expression. Frankly, trying to get Google to take down a review that you don’t like is usually not going to be worth the effort.
Your best bet for changing a negative review is to reach out to the person who wrote it, extending them some customer service and changing their perception of your brand. Indeed, that’s ultimately our advice for any bad review you receive: Regard it not as a death knell, but as an opportunity to show off your customer service abilities.
More broadly, we always emphasize the importance of monitoring your online reviews and responding appropriately to each one, remembering each to be critically important to the larger narrative surrounding your brand.
If that’s something you’d like to learn more about, we’d love to chat with you; connect with us at enCOMPASS any time!
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