Online review sites have been around for years now but things have changed dramatically since they first sprung up. While you might have actually went to a website like yelp.com to find what people were saying two or three years ago, search engines like Google now find them for you by embedding top reviews directly on search results pages.
With reviews more visible than ever, vendors are wondering how much of an impact they actually have on a buyer’s decision-making process. Do people actually care about what others have to say, or not?
As it turns out, Google’s love of reviews isn’t a fluke. According to recent research, almost 4 in 5 American consumers read online reviews before making a decision to buy––78% to be exact.
Let’s dive in and explore how online reviews are influencing people’s shopping behaviors and what you can do to prevent small issues from turning into bad reviews.
1. Shoppers are more likely to trust strangers on Yelp than actual salespeople
Recent research from Influence Central, which looked at the survey responses of over 500 shoppers, found that 90% think the information they get from reviews is more important than talking to a salesperson.
What does that mean for your business?
In short, people are showing up to stores knowing more or less exactly what they want. Before the internet, salespeople were the best (and pretty much only) resource around to get questions answered or find a recommendation outside friends and family. Today, shoppers can spend five minutes clicking around on Google and get opinions from hundreds of different people before they step inside the store.
What’s the bottom line?
The sales shticks of ten years ago don’t resonate with today’s shoppers because people already know what they want. Vendors today need to focus on making it easy and convenient for them to find those things once they get there. That means:
- Keeping a closer watch on inventory
- Keeping stores clean and organized
- Making sure people aren’t driving out to your store only to find items out of stock, especially if the website said otherwise.
2. Most consumers value reviews over personal recommendations
A staggering 82% of those surveyed say they trust online reviews more than recommendations from people they actually know.
This means if you’re a small local retailer, it’s not enough to rely on word-of-mouth anymore. One highly visible bad review can actually turn business away even if the shopper’s sister can’t stop singing your praises.
So, what do you do?
If you’ve had a more “relaxed” approach to customer service up until now, it’s time to make sure you’re not cutting any corners even if your local customers don’t usually demand excellence. Even when small issues go unresolved, all it takes is one out-of-towner or new customer to publish a scathing review that can poison the well for local customers around you.
3. More and more shoppers are checking reviews from mobile devices
26% of shoppers are reading reviews from phones and 18% from tablets.
If you’re asking why this matters, here’s the reason:
Desktop browsers are pretty big and give the user plenty of options and ways to explore. Mobile browsers, on the other hand, do not. In fact, they’re designed to be the opposite: a quick, convenient and easy way to get an answer while you’re on the go.
People searching for information on their phone usually don’t have the time or the patience to browse page after page of reviews. That means those on the top of the list have immense power to sway mobile shoppers.
What do you do?
It’s simple: do everything you can to ensure those top reviews are positive ones. If you see a trend here, it’s no mistake––there’s not a whole lot you can do about reviews after they happen besides offering an official response. Unless the review is fraudulent, there’s virtually no way to remove bad reviews outside of asking people to take them down.
Instead, it’s easier to prevent them from happening in the first place and doing everything you can to flood bad reviews with an overwhelming number of positive ones.
An easier way to make sure little details don’t become big problems online
Here’s the thing about reviews that many stores feel is unfair:
You rarely see reviews praising a store for how clean its windows are, but the moment a shopper sees a dirty window, they can’t wait to get on Yelp to talk about how much it grossed them out.
In other words, people don’t take the time to write reviews about the little things they expect you should be getting right, but when little details are overlooked, the negative reviews start pouring in.
While some brands have gone as far as threatening customers with legal action for writing bad reviews, this tactic doesn’t inspire much love from other customers when they hear about it. So instead, stores are using technology to help them make sure they’re covering all the bases when it comes to giving customers the experience they expect.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is with efficient, easy-to-use checklist systems that can be accessed from a smartphone or tablet. These task management systems not only keep each department manager aware of what needs to be done throughout the day, it allows regional and corporate teams to see how each location is operating comparatively and what problems are happening company-wide.
When repeat problems occur, managers are notified immediately so that issues are fixed immediately––before being exposed to hundreds or thousands of customers who can’t wait to share the bad news.
But mobile checklist systems aren’t just about keeping bad things from happening––they allow managers to focus on rolling out new and exciting initiatives that actually exceed customer expectations––the perfect recipe for a positive, unique and compelling review.
Want to learn what kind of task management system is right for your company? Check out our other post: How to Know When a Task Management System is Right for Your Company