Online reviews are becoming increasingly important to businesses and organisations. Whether you call them customer reviews or customer testimonials, it is the latest tool in a company’s marketing toolbox, and their power to persuade should not be underestimated. In fact, interaction with reviews by consumers has increased by 50% compared to pre-pandemic figures. 
As well as helping to boost your business’s profile online and get you found – Google’s search bots look out for customer reviews and use them as ranking criteria. So, let’s delve into why customer reviews are important for your business. 

What is considered a customer review? 

Statistics show that online customer reviews influence 93% of consumers’ buying decisions, let’s take a quick look at what is meant by a customer review or testimonial. 
According to Hubspot, a customer review is “a reflection of a customer’s experience with your company’s products or services.” Essentially, any of your customers can leave a short review of how they found your service, your website, despatch time, customer service or any other experience they’ve had with your business. 
Most online reviews are found on dedicated review sites, like Google Business, Feefo or TripAdvisor, but consumers can also leave reviews on social media platforms, such as Facebook and even Instagram. 

Why are customer reviews important for your business? 

There are many reasons why a customer review is so important, to illustrate just how much reviews could help your small business we’ve compiled the following top reasons; 
1. Influence a customer’s buying decision 
Did you know that 90% of consumers will read a company’s online reviews before making a decision? Customers want to know that they are making the right buying decision and a review that has a 4-star or higher rating gives them the confidence that this is a business you can buy from with confidence. 
2. Builds your business’s credibility 
The more credible your business, the more likely customers will buy from you. Positive online reviews are as strong, if not stronger, than a personal recommendation. In fact, 79% of customers put as much faith in a review as they do a personal recommendation. But don’t be tempted to pay for reviews or fake any reviews; consumers are savvy and they’ll spot them a mile away. To trust a review, they are looking for authenticity, high quality and positivity. 
3. Boosts customers’ trust and creates customer loyalty 
Reviews give your customers a voice, whether it’s via a laptop, a tablet, a mobile device, or a desktop screen. Just by voicing their thoughts in a review, you are starting to build a relationship with your customers. Those that take the time to leave an online review feel a loyalty to your business and are more likely to return repeatedly, particularly if their experience is as good as, if not better than the last time. 
4. Important ‘word of mouth marketing tool 
The more online reviews your business receives, the more likely your business will generate more reviews. When customers see reviews, it gives them the confidence to add their own reviews about your product or service. The better the review, the higher the trust in the business; there is no better marketing or referral tool out there than the voice of happy customers. 
5. Starts a conversation 
It’s shown that businesses that engage with their customers and develop a connection are likely to generate 23% more revenue than those that don’t start a conversation. Online reviews provide businesses with the perfect opportunity to talk to their customers by responding to reviews, negative and positive. Indeed, it’s more important to respond to negative reviews; often, a customer will value your business according to how you manage negative reviews. 
6. Provides important feedback 
You may think you’ve covered all the bases when it comes to the design and use of your product or service. However, it’s not until your customers use it that you will really find out whether you’ve got it right or not. Customer reviews provide an ideal opportunity to find out just how good your product or service really is. They will tell you about its good and bad points, advantages and disadvantages, and also give you tips on how you can improve your offering. Their feedback will help your business ensure your product or service meets your customer’s needs. 
7. Increases online visibility 
The more visible the business online, the more successful the brand. As well as crawling your website and social profiles, search engines also look at your online business listings and customer reviews. In fact, a study by SEO tool Moz demonstrated that online reviews are the third highest ranking factor in local online search results. 
8. Boosts sales revenue 
Businesses that are viewed favourably often have 4-star and 5-star online reviews. A recent study by Harvard Business School showed that online reviews can have a positive impact on a business’s sales revenue. This backs up previous studies by Revoo and Berkeley that demonstrate that the greater the trust and credibility with the customers, the more likely they are to spend their money with your business. 

How to manage negative and fake reviews 

Negative reviews and fake reviews can damage your reputation fast! So, what’s the best way to manage these types of reviews? 
Negative reviews – no business wants to receive a negative review but to protect your reputation and retain a customer, you need to manage negative reviews. Indeed, with a rapid response, explanation and recompense, there’s every possibility you can turn a ‘negative’ customer review into a positive experience. 
Fake reviews – as you would with a negative review, always respond in an appropriate way and don’t be tempted to place any blame on the customer or start a disagreement. Ask the reviewer to remove the fake review and if they don’t (although they normally do), contact the review platform provider and ask them to help remove fake reviews from your account. 
Customer reviews have the potential to make or break a business, so always treat them with complete respect. 
It’seeze Windsor is a website design company that delivers professional web design that deliver results. Not sure if your website is working for you? We offer a free Website Health Check that will decipher the areas where improvements can be made. Call us today to create the website 
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