Most consumers, like me, have become skeptical of online reviews, whether on the brand’s website or on third-party sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Instagram, Google and others.
It’s sometimes difficult to tell when customers are genuine about their thoughts. On the other hand, I’ve known a few people who have provided well-thought-out and detailed reviews about a product or a service, only to have the brand remove them from the site.
And while consumers are a little skeptical about what they read, how do proprietors and marketers at small and medium-sized businesses feel about online customer reviews, specifically on third-party platforms?
On Thursday, Uberall released findings from a study of more than 300 SMB owners who were asked a series of questions about their relationship with customer reviews and the role they play in their overall business strategy.
More than 90% of SMBs think online reviews are important, per the data. About 54% called the reviews “very important,” while 28% believe they are “moderately important.” About 9% believe online reviews are “slightly important” to their business, and 9% don’t think they are important at all.
I am often asked to post an online review after visiting a local small business, from dentists to dress shops and nail salons. Findings from the Uberall study show 63% of SMBs encourage customers to post reviews online, either positive or negative. They’re just looking for constructive feedback.
Once reviews are posted, 36% of SMBs say they respond to online reviews, while 24% say they respond “frequently,” but not always. Some 26% say they “sometimes” respond, and 14% never do.
Of those SMBs who answer customer reviews, 81% respond to both positive and negative reviews, while 6% only respond to negative reviews and 12% only respond to positive reviews.
It makes sense that most SMBs respond to negative reviews to solve potential customer problems. About 32% said they do so “to implement solutions to issues that are being clearly cited by customers as problematic.”
About 29% say it’s a way to show potential and future customers the business cares, followed by 20% who say they respond in order to discover quality control failures in their place of business, and 20% say they do it to win back dissatisfied customers.
Most companies respond quickly. About 40% respond within a few days, while 39% respond either as soon as the comment posts or within 24 hours. Some 7% say they respond within a few weeks, 5% within one month, and 6% in less than one month.