When it comes to Internet strategy, businesses must weigh the benefits of joining a review site against the risk of being given negative reviews. Stories of businesses who have faced financial trouble because of negative online reviews encourage the idea that limiting a business’s exposure to “trolls” and other negative brand advocates is best.
While negative reviews can be problematic, statistics show that avoiding a presence on these websites can do even more damage. Creating a listing on review sites helps to establish trust and provide information many customers rely on when finalizing a purchase.
By the Numbers
Statistics show customers rely heavily on review sites as a means to access information about businesses before they make a purchase:
- The 2015 B2B Web Usability Report notes that customers consider a business less credible when they don’t have their contact information readily available. Review sites and social media platforms provide additional outlets for this information.
- A BrightLocal report states 92 percent of customers report using online reviews to evaluate a business. A majority of buyers also said that a business’s star rating on search engines is the top factor they use when choosing a local business or product. Businesses that don’t participate on these venues are typically not considered in a purchasing decision at all.
- BrightLocal also reports that 44 percent of customers use reviews less than a month old when evaluating a business. Those who don’t have a business listing will not be able to collect testimonials quickly enough to maintain relevancy.
- Nielsen reports state that 89 percent of customers that visit review sites make a purchase within a week. If your business has no listings, you will lose out on these potential sales.
Review platforms provide a non-partisan space to gather information about a business, helping to build trust. Exposing your business to reviews is key to remaining competitive because it allows shoppers know what to expect from your business and products. Failing to report this information limits your reputation building efforts and could cost you potential sales.
Take Control of Your Reputation
Though your business may not have an official online listing, that doesn’t mean a listing is nonexistent. Customers can create “fan listings” on social media or review sites, which allow others to leave reviews, pictures, hours of operation, or menu items. Unfortunately, information shared by customers isn’t always accurate. Constant Contact reports that 50 percent of small businesses surveyed report having found an inaccurate listing in their name.
Fan pages are also concerning because readers may not realize the listing is not officially affiliated with your business, so they may use these pages to ask questions or leave comments and proceed to get upset when no one answers them. The best remedy here is to request to take control of a fan page so a representative from your business can respond to customers with accurate information.
Addressing the Concern of Bad Reviews
If the fear of bad reviews is causing you to limit your online presence, consider approaching reviews from a data-gathering standpoint. Comments and reviews offer direct insight into your consumer base. Noting repeated complaints would also allow you to adjust your business strategy so you can provide a consumer experience in line with the needs and expectations of your buyer personas.
Avoiding review sites doesn’t mean avoiding negative reviews. Word of mouth and fan-made pages gives people plenty of opportunity to say what they like, negative or positive. Registering on these sites not only helps you learn exactly what is being said, it gives you an immediate opportunity to address any negativity. Businesses that respond promptly to complaints appear more trustworthy by wanting to provide a good experience and making their customers feel valued, ultimately boosting sales and their reputation.