More than three-quarters of consumers say they regularly read online reviews when browsing for local businesses.
That’s according to a study by BrightLocal, a UK-based global reputation management company, which has been regularly studying the impact of online reviews since 2010.
Their latest research also found 87% of consumers use Google to evaluate a local business. That’s especially true for automotive businesses. When consumers were asked which kinds of businesses they were most likely to read reviews on before engaging a company, automotive industry businesses came second only to healthcare providers.
So, there’s little doubt online reviews are an important part of the modern business landscape, whether we like it or not.
Where consumers are leaving reviews
BrightLocal found Google is the most trusted platform for reviews, while Facebook’s relevance for reviews is continuing to fall. It’s worth noting Facebook replaced reviews with recommendations which, rather than offering a rating out of five, ask consumers to say yes or no when asked if they would recommend the business. Facebook then aggregates a score, based on the total recommendations. Other popular review sites are Yelp and Trustpilot.
Why you cannot afford to ignore online reviews
Wherever reviews are being left, it’s critical that workshop owners and managers monitor them and engage with them—ideally responding in less than a week.
While we know from our State of the Nation surveys that Capricorn Members consistently say 75% of their business comes through word of mouth, BrightLocal found 46% of consumers feel online reviews are as trustworthy as personal recommendations from friends and family.
Here’s why online reviews matter:
Social proof: Reviews (even bad ones, if you respond to them well) build trust and credibility with potential customers.
Insights: Review feedback can help you identify problem areas you might not have been aware of, so you can make improvements.
Engagement: Responding to reviews is an opportunity to thank customers and reinforce your values, customer service style and much more.
Free content: Leverage positive reviews in social media posts, newsletters and testimonials on your website to spread the message even further.
How to respond to online reviews
Responding to positive reviews is an opportunity to thank the customer, publicly, for writing a review. That’s not just good manners, it’s smart business: others will read the love-in and feel positive about your business.
Responding to negative reviews can be harder, but it is no less essential. How you handle it can change everything.
Investigate: Before you respond, look into the substance of the complaint with your team to get to the bottom of what happened.
Respond ASAP: Don’t leave bad reviews hanging out there, unanswered. It might be costing you customers!
Stay professional: Don’t get personal. Keep it courteous, but be authentic in your response.
Acknowledge: Always recognise that the person feels they had a sub-par experience. Be honest about any mistakes and explain your plans to remedy the situation.
Apologise: You may have nothing to apologise for, but at least show compassion and empathy.
Next steps: Whether you invite the customer to give you a call or promise to call them yourself, make it clear you’re happy to talk about the situation to find a satisfactory resolution.
Accountability: Sign off with your name and title. It shows you’re taking the situation seriously and not running away from it.