Who do you ask when you need a plumber, a hair dresser, or a mechanic? Your neighbors, friends, and family of course. A positive recommendation from someone you know helps build your trust in the business right from the start. Word of mouth marketing is not only the biggest influence on consumer choices, it also carries added credibility because of the personal nature of communication between individuals. However, the ways people communicate their preferences and recommendations are changing rapidly. Is your business equipped to keep up with your potential customers?
While opinions will always be shared between neighbors over backyard fences, 97% of consumers today search the internet when looking for a product or service in their area. Increasingly, those consumers are looking for recommendations from people like them; they are looking for customer reviews, which are viewed by Internet shoppers as the most desired feature of a website. Customers know that you as a business owner have complete confidence in your services; what they are really looking to find out is what other people say about your company. Having reviews from previous customers available helps potential customers form a more complete picture of how your company does business and decide whether to choose you.
Most consumers searching online say their decisions are influenced by the reviews they find posted by previous customers of a business. Your previous customers may only pass direct word of mouth recommendations to friends who ask them, or when they know someone who could use your service. Customer reviews posted online are available to everyone, right when they are searching for you, and they allow all of your potential customers to benefit from the experiences of your current clients and help build their trust in your company.
Reviews help with more than just acquiring new customers – they can increase customer loyalty amongst your existing client base as well. Having reviews available means a better chance customers will choose you again, and they’ll be more likely to make use of your other products and services as well. Even negative reviews have a positive impact on customers; they know that no business is perfect and want to see your company from as many angles as possible. A few negative reviews make all of your reviews more credible and can be an opportunity to display how you respond and make things right when the need arises.
So, what does this mean for your business? Customers are looking for reviews in order to see what others have said about your company before they decide to do business with you. If you currently do not have a way to show customer reviews to your potential clients, either offline or especially online, they will take their business to another company. Reviews are key to the visibility of your company, building initial trust with your customers, and closing more business.