Business

The power of customer reviews

Bobby Hansen
Bobby Hansen

Reputation can mean everything, especially for business owners trying to attract and retain customers.

You want to be able to tell customers that your business is trustworthy and transparent — and what better way to illustrate that story than through online customer reviews.

But it’s harder than it sounds because many small businesses have a difficult time receiving positive reviews, responding to negative ones and marketing reviews to help their business grow.

BBB breaks down the power of customer reviews for your business, why reviews are essential to consumers and how to leverage reviews to help your business be better.

In a Bright Local Consumer Review Survey, 82 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52 percent of 18- to 54-year-olds saying they ”always” read reviews.

And as so many people turn to the internet to find local businesses, business owners have a tremendous opportunity to get in front of potential customers with the right message.

So what does this all mean? Customer reviews can improve your online reputation which helps businesses build trust with customers, converts searchers into leads, and boosts local search rankings, according to Bright Local.

Who can you trust?

One of the biggest challenges for businesses and online shoppers is determining which reviews are real and which ones are fake.

Many online review sites struggle in trying to weed out bogus reviews or reviews created by bots.

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There are long-standing issues with businesses fraudulently trying to generate reviews, especially positive ones, in an attempt to manipulate a rating.

Still, many businesses turn a blind eye to online reviews because they rely on local customers, referrals and foot traffic.

But with more online review sites available to consumers, the need for trustworthy reviews has never been greater. Consumers are savvier and can comparison shop quickly by searching for a business on their phone.

BBB Customer Reviews

At Better Business Bureau, we and our Accredited Businesses are committed to our Standards for Trust, especially when it comes to being transparent, honoring promises and truth in advertising.

With BBB Customer Reviews, we try to vet each reviewer when a comment is submitted to check for authenticity.

And while it’s next to impossible to guarantee that every comment is legitimate, here is how BBB tries to ensure accuracy and transparency:

• BBB validates the email address or phone number of reviewers.

• Allowing the business to respond to a customer review and share their side of the story before it is published.

• Allowing the reviewer also to submit comments on the customer review.

• Not allowing anonymous reviews or reviews where the consumer got compensated.

• Customer reviews are posted to the company’s BBB Business Profile.

To date, BBB nationwide received more than 4 million customer reviews but has published only 62 percent of them — and for a good reason.

In the battle against fake reviews, BBB is determined to take extra steps to ensure the reviewer is authentic.

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According to the BBB Trust Sentiment Index, consumers rank a business’s reputation first when determining trust. An honest and legitimate review can go a long way in helping consumers make better purchasing decisions and for companies to put their best foot forward.

How to promote customer reviews

There are several creative ways to showcase your customer reviews and polished online reputation.

BBB recommends these five actions to use online reviews to improve your business reputation:

1. Respond to customer reviews — One of the best ways to improve your online reputation is to respond to reviews.

If a customer leaves a negative comment, use it as an opportunity to work with the customer to find a solution to the problem.

2. Follow-up with customers — After a purchase, reach out to the customer a week or two later to ensure the product or service provided is exceeding expectations.

Ask the person to leave an honest review and share feedback that will help your business be better.

3. Monitor review sites — Carefully check online review sites to ensure your reputation is solid and customer demands get answered in a timely fashion.

4. Provide easy options — Make it easy for customers to leave reviews by including a link to your business profile or BBB Leave a Review page on your website, posing questions on social media, or reminding customers to provide feedback at the point of purchase.

5. Share positive reviews — Don’t be shy. Encourage customers to read your online reviews.

You also might want to share customer reviews with your own staff to help boost employee morale and encourage better customer service.

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The world of online reviews can seem overwhelming, but if managed correctly it could provide your business with a valuable reputation boost.

Consider leveraging trusted BBB Customer Reviews. After all, it boils down to trust, and what better way to tell a customer you’re a trustworthy business than aligning yourself with BBB.

Bobby Hansen is regional director for the Better Business Bureau Cedar Rapids office; (319) 365-1190.

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Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.