The Importance of Online Reviews: What Your Customers Really Think

February 23rd, 2012 by Search Influence Alumni

You might be very surprised by what your customers really think of your business, especially if you haven’t looked before. Go ahead. Take a second and go Google any business. I googled sandwich shop reviews New Orleans.

All business owners know a businesses online presence is important, but to what extent might not be fully appreciated. Consumers continue to evolve the way in which they research and buy goods or services. Online shopping is a multi-billion dollar industry and continues to grow every year. Recognizing its importance is vital to the success of any business. No longer can businesses ignore what its customers are saying about them. Much like word of mouth, online reviews are growing in popularity and trustworthiness.

Online Reputation Management ReviewsAs social media and technology continue to root themselves in peoples daily lives the value of a well managed online presence continues to grow. The ability of a customer to express themselves freely and anonymously on the Internet can be a scary thought to many business owners, but proper monitoring of the top channels can result in very valuable advertising.

In the automotive industry, dealers blanket the air waves with television commercials, radio spots, direct mail pieces, billboard advertisements, and many other forms of advertising. But the decision process does not end there. There is a negative stigma related to the auto industry that makes people tend not to trust car dealers. If the money spent on advertising is met with an overwhelming number of negative reviews it is safe to assume potential buyers see this information and that the money was probably wasted.

In response to this dilema, people flock to online reviews to get an opinion. According to a Nielsen study in April 2009, consumer opinions posted online was the second most trusted form of advertising.

Reputation Management of Online Reviews

Why not use that to your advantage?

In theory, every single customer becomes a brand ambassador either positively or negatively expressing their opinions. For a minimal investment a dealer can leverage the word of mouth of all of their satisfied customers to enhance their businesses reputation. You can not control what they say, but you can take the following steps to help maintain your online reputation.

The three most important things someone can do to improve their online reputation are:

  1. Maintain and Monitor a list of the top review websites in your industry
  2. Treat all comments seriously and respond quickly and courteously. Use the channel where the review first appeared to respond.
  3. Take the conversation offline, this does NOT mean get the comment removed. It means reach out to the reviewer with another way to contact you. Give them your phone number, set up a meeting, or send the person a direct message asking what can be done to help resolve or rectify the issue. Not all issue can be resolved but by reaching out to them you show everyone that you care what people have to say or think.

Reputation Management Online Reviews
As food for thought, Where would you eat? I know where I would…