Understanding the Power of Customer Reviews for Your Local Businesses

Since the 1990s and the dawn of the internet, customer reviews have been crucial in helping small businesses reach a wider audience. 5-star ratings and glowing feedback are a sure-fire recipe for success! If you’re not yet harnessing the power of reviews, it’s time for that to change. 

But what makes customer comments such a must-have tool for skyrocketing startups and converting customers? Let’s take a closer look.

The Difference Between Good and Bad Reviews

Before looking at the power of small business reviews, it’s important to remember that their influence goes both ways. Customer feedback can help your growth just as much as it can hinder it, which is why it’s so crucial that you work hard to cultivate positive feedback.

Negative reviews are also likelier to be given than positive ones. This is because bad interactions stick, leading to heightened emotional responses and a need to share. Compared to a smooth, seamless experience, they give the customer more of a reason to write a review. 

To prevent negativity from taking over your reviews, it’s crucial you actively manage experiences and encourage positive feedback. 

You can make this simpler by using tools and software like Google Business Profile, which is designed to put you in control of customer perception and cultivate more positive comments in organic search. 

The Benefits of Small Business Reviews

Watching those glowing reviews come rolling in is always a good feeling. But aside from a happier start to the day, how do reviews actively help your local brand?

To understand more about the power of customer feedback, let’s take a look at some of the key benefits.

Influence Purchasing Decisions

Around 70% of consumers read between 1 and 6 reviews before making an online purchase. Even when shopping in person, it’s not uncommon for a customer or diner to quickly Google the business to find reviews, making sure they’re spending their money in the right place. 

Reviews genuinely do influence their purchasing choices, too. Positive reviews have a direct correlation to business performance, and by generating a lot of great feedback you could see your profits increase.

Build Trust and Credibility

Trust is incredibly important between a consumer and a business. When the customer hand over their hard-earned cash, they want to know that you’ll deliver on the image you’ve cultivated.

Luckily, reviews can go a long way to building trust for local brands, making this a cost-effective strategy to boost your conversions. 84% of UK consumers believe the reviews they see, giving you the chance to sell them on your image. If other consumers are raving about your products or services, you’re far more likely to see a customer convert without hesitation.

Gain a Local Advantage

As a small business, one of the biggest threats to your success is local competition. Setting yourself apart and earning a portion of your shared audience isn’t always easy, but with review management, you could give your brand the winning edge. 

To understand how this works, imagine there are four Italian restaurants in the same town. They all offer a similar menu and atmosphere, and are all within easy walking distance. Aside from tasting the food itself, how will potential customers choose between them? The simple solution is to take a look at reviews. 

A quick Google search will show them which restaurant has the highest rating and most reviews, giving them an easy idea of where they’ll be served the best meal. It makes the choice quick and simple, and that highly-rated business has just earned a new customer.

Boost Your SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) can boost your website’s visibility and give you another edge over competitors. Though Google can be secretive when it comes to how they rank sites, it’s well-known that reviews play a part in where you’re placed. 

This is because customer feedback gives search engines a better idea of how authoritative and credible you are. They want to give their users good business suggestions, so will favour higher-rated businesses. 

Increase Customer Loyalty

By engaging with customers via reviews, you can boost their loyalty and cultivate long-lasting, meaningful relationships with your target market. 

A brand that takes the time to respond to customer feedback (be it good or bad) shows that it values and appreciates its customers’ opinions. You also build a friendly, trustworthy brand image, showing that there are people behind your online presence ready to engage with and help potential customers.

It’s a simple strategy, too, and with templates of responses ready to go it doesn’t have to eat into your time. 

How to Gain More Customer Reviews

To feel all of the wonderful benefits of reviews, it’s a good idea to encourage positive customer feedback. There are tons of ways that a small business can do this, including with:

  • Incentives – offering a discount or free product can encourage customers to leave feedback after a stress-free, happy experience.
  • QR codes – adding QR codes to your receipts reminds customers to review your website and makes it easier for them to find your business online.
  • Emails – send follow-up emails after an online transaction to remind recent customers to leave a comment.
  • Ask on social media – reach a wide audience of loyal customers quickly by asking your social media followers for feedback, and include a link to your preferred review platform.
  • Share reviews – people love seeing themselves reposted on social media, so add screenshots of recent reviews with the name of the customer to hype up your audience.

There are also digital tools to make review management simpler. These can reduce the time you need to spend chasing feedback by sending out review invites automatically and providing quicker ways to respond to feedback. Be sure to look into your options to find the right products for your needs. 

There’s no shame in asking for reviews face-to-face, either. After interacting with a customer and finishing a transaction, let them know that you always appreciate when customers leave reviews. Be sure to emphasise that this really helps your small business grow, appealing to their empathy to win glowing feedback.

Final Thoughts

As a small, local business, you can’t underestimate the power of customer reviews. From edging out nearby competition to encouraging conversions, they’re a must if you want to nurture a successful brand, and managing your reviews is simple when you use the right tools. Hopefully, this article has given you all the tips you need to get started.

For more small business advice and female entrepreneur empowerment, be sure to take a look at more articles on Prowess.