Prior to the existence of the Internet, customers often relied on word-of-mouth references and listings in directories, such as the Yellow Pages. This is how they determined which companies they trusted to do business with. The Internet has changed all of that. A majority of potential customers now look at reviews online when making purchase decisions. The truth is, small business owners still haven’t fully caught up with this trend. Many of them are wondering what difference does it make, and is it worth it for them to take part? In my opinion, it’s always worth using review websites to help fish for new customers, here’s why…
Review Websites Have Killed The Yellow Pages!
Alright, so the Yellow Pages aren’t completely dead. They are still being printed, but they’re following and the number of listing businesses has significantly diminished, since review websites began popping up online. However, the Yellow Pages does have quite an active following on the website version it is still not up to scale with review websites, such as Yelp and Angie’s List. What makes these websites more convenient than the Yellow Pages? It’s 2016, a majority of the world owns or has access to a smart phone, tablet, or computer. Based on a study done by DMR Stats, 70% of Yelp’s pageviews are from mobile devices. This means consumers are accessing these websites from literally anywhere and at anytime! This alone changes the game, customers no longer have to whip out a 5 pound and 7,000 page book to discover the best purchasing options for them.
Review Sites Give Consumers a Voice and Outlet to Share Experiences.
Before the internet, most reviews that consumers received were from a trusted source. A majority were from friends, family or peers who cared about the consumer and their experience. If not from them, it these references often from a valued radio, television or print media personality. It is important to recognize that these recommendations are a powerful purchasing influence, referred to as word-of-mouth marketing. It’s valuable because it can’t be purchased by a business. In fact, a company must impress a customer enough that the customer then shares their experience with those around them. The fact that 26,380 Yelp reviews are posted every minute proves that online review websites significantly amplifies those voices of those customers. It gives them a platform to share their reviews not just with people they know, but any of the 142 million unique yelp visitors who use Yelp every single month. That’s just statistics from one review website!
Consumers aren’t the only ones given a voice through review websites.
Online review sites don’t just give customers a platform to share from. Each business is given the opportunity to share as well! However, there are many unclaimed businesses on review websites, such as Yelp. Claiming your business on these sites gives your company the opportunity to speak for itself and most importantly respond to reviews. While many businesses focus primarily on gaining positive reviews, it is inevitable for each to come across a few negative reviews too. Claiming your business on review sites gives you the opportunity to reply to these. Even if you can’t fix the issue brought up in a negative review, responding shows that customer and potential customers that you care. You’re not just sweeping customer concerns under the rug, you’re making an effort to improve your business, as well as the customer experience. Letting customers know their opinion matters, even if it’s a negative one, is a huge advantage with growing loyalty among relational customers. In fact, Domino’s did an amazing job of just that in the video below…
“You can either use negative comments to get you down, or you can use them to excite you and energize your process of making a better pizza.” – Patrick Doyle (CEO of Domino’s)
Negative reviews scare businesses, as a business owner, I understand that. However, one of the biggest advantages a business can get is the opportunity to respond to those negative reviews. Online review sites give your business that chance and they are begging you to take it. I am begging you to take it. Use these review websites to your advantage. Even the bad reviews come with a silver lining, the chance to respond. This is another reason many businesses avoid asking for reviews from customers, they are afraid one or two will have something negative to say. I hold a lot of respect for potential customers. They are average people just like you and me. I’d venture to guess that they’ve experienced both good and bad days at their place of work. This is why most customers understand not every interaction will be positive and that bad reviews happen. In fact, some customers actually believe the positive reviews more, if there is one or two bad reviews to read too. Why? Because it makes the business looks genuine. A business owner can’t please every customer, but they can sure as hell try!
It Never Ever Hurts To Ask Your Customers
As a business, don’t be afraid to ask your customers for reviews. Asking them is just another way to show customers that you legitimately care about their opinion! No customer will ever get angry at your business for asking them how their experience was. I’d even encourage you to mention that negative reviews are also welcome. Why? Because they are opportunities for your business to adapt so that you are truly giving your customers the experience you intend and that they will enjoy. What would you do for the secret formula to create the ultimate customer experience in your business? Doesn’t matter! All it takes it talking your customers and taking to heart what they say, even when they share negative comments. In fact, those are the customer comments you should take most to heart! Then, find a way to ensure that no customer ever experiences that again. This is how small businesses grow, adapt and develop into successful companies. Let’s be honest, deciding to fish for customers using an active review website page is taking advantage of word-of-mouth marketing, which as I said earlier… businesses cannot buy. However, you can do several things to get customers more interested in leaving you an online review…
- Just ask, the worst that can happen is that they tell you, “no.”
- Give a little incentive, many businesses hold raffle-styled contests for customers who leave reviews within a given amount of time.
- Buy a tablet and keep it your store, then you can ask people at the moment for a quick review. (They don’t need to be novels, they can be simple and to the point.)
- Give customers an experience they can’t help but to share! It’s that easy…
Don’t let your business’ online review pages go unclaimed! Claim your company and take advantage of the opportunity to respond to reviews. Patrick Doyle changed the opinion that millions of Americans had about Domino’s by turning thousands of negative reviews into successful, company-altering silver linings. Bad reviews should no longer be an excuse to avoid review websites like Yelp. So what is your business waiting for? Take advantage of the opportunity that review websites have set before you. For more information or some extra advice for claiming your business on review websites, feel free to contact us today.