It is a terrible feeling when you discover your first negative online review. The feeling of disbelief turns to anger before you begin to consider the impact one dissatisfied customer might have on your business.
We have all been there, and it is frustrating.
Unfortunately, there is good reason to be concerned about how online reviews can affect your business. Feedback that customers post online has the potential to reach a nearly endless number of the exact people you care most about – those considering purchasing your services. BrightLocal’s local consumer survey shows that 91% of consumers between the age of 18 to 34 put an enormous amount of credibility in online reviews, ranking them alongside recommendations from people they actually know.
With that much power, it is not surprising that your business’s solid reputation can be undermined by a handful of unsatisfied consumers. Negative reviews cause potential customers to question the quality of your services and the values that guide your business decisions, creating a boon for your competitors. One recent study found that a single negative review can scare off 22% of new customers; three negative reviews will cause 59.2% of prospects to do business elsewhere.
The Number One Secret to Improve A Business’s Online Rating
While online reviewers seem to have all the power, many businesses fail to utilize the most important tool to improve their reputations and thus their online ratings. Researchers from the University of Southern California and Boston University studied the impact of management responses on consumer reviews. While their study focused on the hospitality industry, their findings have far-reaching effects for businesses in the service industry as a whole.
Put simply, online ratings improve when businesses respond to their online reviews.
The study by professors Proserpio and Zervas analyzed more than 500,000 consumer reviews, and their conclusions should be known by business owners across the country. Most notably, they found that businesses that responded to customer reviews saw their online rating increase by up to one-half star within six months of their first response.
That one finding bears repeating: If your business enjoys a four-star rating, then you might be able to increase the rating to four and a half stars by simply posting thoughtful and well-written responses to your online reviews.
But does a half-star increase really matter? It absolutely does. For example, UC Berkeley economists found that a half-star rating increase on Yelp translates into a 19 percent greater likelihood that a restaurant’s seats will be full during peak dining times.
Responding to online reviews is proven to strengthen a business’s reputation, create credibility in the eyes of prospects, and increase long-term revenues across a range of industries. It’s a strategy that every business should consider adopting today.
Set Your Business Apart
Unfortunately, most businesses miss out on a huge opportunity by failing to respond to their online reviews. Responding to reviews is often seen as intimidating and unnecessary, requiring personal feelings to be set aside in order to achieve one key objective – attracting a steady stream of new clientele.
In fact, a recent survey found that only 37% of businesses respond to their online reviews.
A huge opportunity exists for businesses to distinguish themselves from their competitors by engaging with clients through review responses and providing superior customer service. Simple, cost-effective, and results-driven – this approach can be easily implemented to sustain the success of any business.