The power of customer reviews on small businesses

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Reputation can mean anything, especially for a small business owner trying to attract and retain customers. You want to be able to tell customers that your business is trustworthy and transparent – and what better way to illustrate that story than through online customer reviews.

But it’s harder than it looks, as many small businesses struggle to receive positive reviews, respond to negative reviews, and marketing reviews to help their business grow. In this article, we describe the power of customer reviews for your business, why reviews are essential for consumers, and how to leverage reviews to help your business be better.

In a Brilliant Local Consumer Rating Survey, 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54 year olds saying they “always” read reviews. And with more and more people turning to the internet to find local businesses, business owners have a tremendous opportunity to connect with potential customers with the right message.

According to Moz, Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, reviews have a 15% chance of influencing your position in local search results.

So what does all this mean? Customer reviews can improve your reputation online, which helps businesses build trust with their customers, turns searchers into leads, and improves local search rankings, according to Bright Local.

Who can you trust?

One of the biggest challenges for businesses and online shoppers is figuring out which reviews are real and which are fake. Many online review sites struggle to weed out fake reviews or robot-created reviews. In a study by Spiegel Research Center, the probability of purchasing a product with five reviews is 270% higher than that of a product without a review. Unfortunately, businesses can fraudulently attempt to generate reviews, especially positive reviews.

But in the same study, consumers also indicate that fake reviews can damage trust, believing that five-star reviews can be too good to be true. This study is just one of many that validate the importance of responding to negative reviews and avoiding using false positive reviews in an attempt to manipulate a rating.

Yet many businesses turn a blind eye to online reviews because they depend on local customers, referrals, and foot traffic. But with more online review sites available to consumers, the need for reliable reviews has never been greater. Consumers are more savvy and can quickly compare their purchases by searching for a business on their phone.

BBB customer reviews – a trusted source of reviews

At the Better Business Bureau, we and our accredited businesses are committed to our standards of trust, especially when it comes to being transparent, honoring promises, and being truthful in advertising. With BBB Customer Reviews, we try to vet every review when a review is submitted to verify its authenticity. And while it’s next to impossible to guarantee that every comment is legitimate, here’s how BBB tries to ensure accuracy and transparency.

  • BBB valid the e-mail address or telephone number of the evaluators.
  • Allow the company to respond to a customer review and share their side of the story before it’s published.
  • Allow the reviewer to also submit comments on the customer review. Third party comments are not allowed.
  • Do not allow anonymous reviews or notices where the consumer has been compensated.
  • Customer reviews are published to the company’s BBB company profile.

To date, BBB has received over 4 million customer reviews but only posted 62% – and for good reason. In our fight against fake reviews, BBB is committed to taking extra steps to ensure that the reviewer is genuine. According to BBB Confidence Index, consumers rank a company’s reputation first in determining trust. An honest and legitimate review can go a long way in helping consumers make better purchasing decisions and businesses do the best they can.

How to promote customer reviews

There are several creative ways to present your customers’ reviews and your neat online reputation. Just like marketing your BBB accreditation, we recommend these five actions for using online reviews to improve your business reputation.

  1. Respond to customer Comments – One of the best ways to improve your reputation online is to respond to reviews. If a customer leaves a negative feedback, take the opportunity to work with the customer to find a solution to the problem.
  2. Follow-up with clients – After a purchase, contact the customer a week or two later to make sure the product or service provided exceeds expectations. Ask the person to leave an honest review and share feedback that will help your business be better.
  3. Monitor review sites – Check online review sites carefully to make sure your reputation is solid and customer inquiries are answered in a timely manner.
  4. Provide easy options – Help customers leave reviews by including a link to your company profile or the BBB Leave Review page on your website, asking questions on social media, or reminding customers to give their review when it is time to procurement.
  5. Share positive reviews– Do not be shy ! Encourage customers to read your reviews online by visiting your BBB profile page. Advertise your BBB accreditation, rating and customer reviews by adding a link to your BBB profile on your website and on social media. You can even share customer reviews with your own staff, to help boost employee morale and encourage better customer service.

The world of online reviews can seem overwhelming, but if handled properly it could give your business a valuable reputation boost. While there are several online review sites available, consider taking advantage of trusted BBB customer reviews. After all, it comes down to trust, and what better way to tell a client that you are a trustworthy company than to align yourself with BBB.

For more information on how BBB can help you achieve your business goals, visit the BBB Get Accredited page.

Joseph P. Harris