Reviews are incredibly important for businesses like restaurants.

While they are not as vital for the auto industry, they are becoming more and more important.

Not only are they important to a vast majority of potential customers, they’re also responsible for securing your online visibility in organic search rankings.

Customer reviews are the first impression customers have of your product. If social media commentary about your products or services is ignored, the impression you send is that you don’t care about your customers.

Customer reviews must be monitored and responded to in as near to real time as possible, because the only way to guarantee four- and five-star reviews on the most influential review sites is to nip in the bud any customer-service issues.

You get reviewed whether you like it or not

In the past there was no viable public outlet for consumers to voice their opinions on the products and services they were buying; dissatisfied customers’ voices couldn’t reach beyond family and friends. Now, with the click of the mouse or tap of a smartphone, consumers can broadcast their opinions far and wide. And every consumer can use customer reviews to make buying decisions.
According to the results of a recent survey by Fan and Fuel, most consumers are greatly influenced by customer reviews or lack thereof.

A whopping 97 percent reported that customer reviews factor into their buying decisions, while 92 percent of consumers will hesitate to purchase a product or service if there are no customer reviews.

BrightLocal surveys indicate that the importance to buying decisions of consumer reviews increasing every year. Google’s local SEO algorithm changes only seem to increase the weight of consumer reviews in visibility and rankings. Further, new tools and technologies for consumer reviews, such as new review platforms and new mediums like video, are emerging and quickly becoming more common. User reviews are here to stay and the longer you wait to start optimising your reviews, the more you stand to lose.

According to a survey by BrightLocal, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. The same survey found that only 12 percent of the population did not regularly read reviews for consumer products.

What this means is that not offering user reviews (or ignoring them as a potential marketing opportunity) is akin to alienating 88 percent of your buying population, depriving them of information they want to help them make their buying decisions.

It’s hard to get a good review

People are more likely to take the time to write a review if they had a bad experience. You cannot let a negative review go unanswered. You must address it or you give the impression you don’t care about your customers.

When everything is up to par, customers generally see no need to leave a review. No matter how satisfied, many customers simply aren’t motivated to leave online reviews. When a customer verbally expresses his or her satisfaction that is your cue to direct that customer to online review sites. The best way to get reviews is to ask for them. Make it easy for the customer to follow through, offer incentives, spotlight the customer and follow a routine.

Negative reviews help you improve your business

Negative reviews do have their place. Just over a third (34 percent) of consumers say they like to see a mix of both positive and negative reviews.

Consumers are now more aware that it’s possible to throw money at a service that provides fake reviews and they see right through the facade. A few negative or so-so reviews imply authenticity. And negative reviews are a great opportunity for your business to demonstrate top-notch customer service.

Many companies consistently respond to negative reviews online and, if done correctly, this can virtually negate the effects of the review itself. If your customer service team makes it a point to publicly, personally and professionally respond to negative reviews, your business’ integrity and authenticity will shine through. For example, the once-unhappy customer became an asset when the business showed is responsive and accommodating.

Google reviews

Google reviews are often considered the Holy Grail, but a Google review on its own does nothing to address the issues raised in negative reviews. Unless you fix those problems, whether it be a complaint about a salesman, or service received, or any other of a host of matters, you will still get bad reviews.

One dealership we know of keeps receiving poor reviews but does nothing to fix the areas causing complaint. A review tells you what is wrong, giving you the chance to improve your business. If you ignore it, what does that say about your desire to operate to the highest possible standard?

Google reviews are important but the culture inside the dealership is much more important, so it is critical that Dealers pay attention to what their customers are saying about them – and act on what they learn. It is a myth to believe that getting more Google reviews is some kind of magic bullet.

Google reviews might help your page ranking, but if you’re not listening to your customers you’re not fixing the problem and your business is not getting better. You will continue to make the same mistakes and you will lose customers.

There is also the danger of becoming trapped into seeking Google reviews. For example, say a dealer has 60 Google reviews, with an average score of between 2 and 3. Some of those reviews will be years old and not relevant to the way the dealership operates today. Yet you are still being judged on mistakes you or your staff might have made five years ago.

A product like Snap21 creates a real time, live snapshot of the customer’s view of their purchase experience. Snap21 creates a review 53 percent of the time, which is more than any other review tool. Twenty-seven per cent of these reviews will end up on Google Reviews as well.

What is the value of a review? Nothing, unless you act on what you learn from it. A review is a measurement of your reputation. Your reputation is a consequence of your actions. Even the good ones won’t matter unless you follow up the comments contained in them.

Reviews help your Google page ranking

Enabling customer reviews on your site can have a positive effect on your company’s organic search rankings in search engines. For starters, each new review written about a product on your site increases the amount of unique content your site offers on that product, meaning you’ll be seen as having higher authority, more relevance and, as such, a higher chance of getting those pages ranked.

The number of positive reviews you have on external websites might actually have a bigger impact, because Google’s local search algorithm incorporates data from a number of third-party directories and review sites. The more reviews you have on these sites and the more positive they are, the higher chance you’ll have of ranking in Google’s local 3-pack, which is valuable regardless of whether you only operate locally or work on a national scale.

The bottom line

Like everything in the digital marketplace, businesses that pay attention to the trends and adjust their marketing strategies have the advantage over those that don’t. A dealership that doesn’t understand the importance of customer reviews is missing out on leads and customers. If your business doesn’t yet have a customer review strategy that includes online reputation monitoring and management, you are missing out.

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