For a small business, a negative review feels devastating. But take heart: most customers are savvy enough to read between the lines. A survey published by Maritz Research analyzed how consumers view online reviews. Apparently, one in four customers read reviews with a hefty dose of skepticism, especially reviews that paint your business as all good or all bad. And everyone seems to read review comments rather than accept numerical ratings that appear next to a review.
It’s interesting to note a few things from the Maritz study. First, belief or skepticism in online reviews tends to skew along gender and age demographic lines. The younger the customer, the less credence they give to reviews, while the older the customer, the more trust they place in online reviews. Similarly, males tend to be more skeptical than females when reading reviews online.
For those of you who ask customers to leave comments on review sites – good for you. Personal experiences, stories and detailed comments garner more respect and trust from readers than simple numerical ranks. That makes sense, because a number tells you little about someone’s experience; one person’s 5 may be another’s 4 and so on. Comments, however, tend to provide enough details to help customers form their own opinion, especially when taken in the context of others’ comments, too.
If you’re using review sites for customer feedback, it’s important not to over-react to customer comments. It’s equally as important to use negative comments as a possible opportunity to remedy the situation and gain a loyal customer.
- Don’t change your business or product selection based on a small sample size of customer comments. Instead, look for overall trends.
- Companies that cater to an older, female demographic may wish to spend more time addressing reviews left for their firm on the various review sites since this is the demographic most persuaded by review sites.
- Conversely, companies selling to the younger set may be slower to act on negative comments, knowing that reviews aren’t taken at face value by this demographic.
- Lastly, written reviews are far more valuable than numerical ratings. Look closely at what customers are writing about your products and services rather than the overall ranking they’re giving them. It’s what they’re saying that counts.
Fit Small Buiness has published a few article on the topic of reviews:
Yelp Marketing Guide (includes info on reviews)
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