Why Consumers Should Write Online Reviews
By Melody Boggs on 28 February 2014
Atlanta–When it comes to discovering a small business’ reputation, more research is being done online than ever before. Naturally, this is because it’s easier and more convenient than relying on word-of-mouth testimonials (which aren’t by any means obsolete just yet). Online reviews from complete strangers, however, are carrying more weight in this ever-increasing digital world. According to the Local Consumer Review Survey in 2012, as much as 72% of customers trust online reviews as much as word-of-mouth recommendations, and that number is expected to rise through 2014. The good thing about this is that most online reviews are highly reliable, and they help customers make smarter decisions concerning which products and services to purchase and which to avoid.
Why Consumers Should Leave Reviews – Good or Bad
I know the dance very well. You’ve ordered this thing or received this service, and the results were spectacular. You couldn’t be more pleased with it than if you could have gotten it for free all along. Despite these positive feelings, though, you neglect to leave a review. Maybe you just forgot, didn’t feel like it, didn’t know where to leave a review, or were just unsure about what you would even say if you could. The important thing is that you know it all worked out for you, right? Not in all cases.
Some businesses—particularly small, local ones—rely on reviews to market themselves to the local communities and tourists of the area. Believe it or not, you have the power to help decide the fate of that business with a review, and perhaps in certain instances you also have the responsibility of doing so. Here are a few reasons why you should at least consider it.
1. Other consumers will benefit from your actions. A posted review acts as the ultimate pay-it-forward, often long after a customer has submitted it. Most people who come across it in the future will take your words into account when weighing their own decisions on whether to buy or not. A positive review will help assure them; a negative review will encourage them to exercise caution and inspire greater thought.
2. Reviews promote greater visibility for a business you love. The way the internet works is this: the more content a site has, the greater its visibility on web searches as well. Naturally, any site that seems to have interesting information, original content, and consumer engagement will generate more hits in searches, ensuring that the site is viewable to more people. Reviews help in making those hits happen by contributing keywords, improving rankings, and encouraging engagement. Your review could be the one that puts a business on the digital map.
3. View it as a chance to lead. At times, you’ll find yourself in the position of being the first person to leave a review. Instead of looking at the blank screen in intimidation, see it as an opportunity to set the mood for future reviews. For whatever reason, the presence of even so much as one review seems to better encourage others to write their own. So take this chance to be a trendsetter and let others follow you.
4. Remember how reviews helped you in the past. If someone else’s review encouraged you to purchase what is now one of your most beloved products, return the favor and leave a review for someone else to receive the same guidance that you once did. If the product turns out to be less than what you expected, then leaving a review may be your only chance to set the record straight (politely, of course).
5. Abandon misgivings that it’s bad to leave a bad review. Bad reviews are extremely useful, as long as they don’t attack anyone or are directly libelous. You should always remember that a bad review should be about what you thought about the business and not about the business itself. It’s much better to say, “I expected to receive better service, given what I paid for it,” rather than, “This business is here to scam you out of your money! DON’T USE THEM!” Always consider taking such precaution, since some businesses take advantage of their vague review policies in an attempt to eliminate bad reviews, such as what happened to this Utah couple. These negative occurrences are rare, however, and submitting an honest review to a local business does far more good than harm.
6. Real reviews offset fake ones. Most sites have algorithms in place to detect and eliminate fake reviews, but they don’t always work. You have probably read a fake review at least once in your life. Maybe it was obvious to you, but maybe it sounded very real and you believed it. In September 2013, the Harvard Business School completed a study, which revealed that–in the Boston area alone–nearly 16% of Yelp restaurant reviews are fake. For the wary consumer, this should be a cause of concern.
Most fake reviews are the product of desperation, either by a business owner who isn’t getting the publicity he needs or by the competition that wants to put him out of business. Some business owners even hire people they’ve never even completed business with in person to write reviews for them. While it’s by no means the consumer’s responsibility to ensure these businesses behave ethically, the presence of customer reviews can certainly help prevent these actions from being made and keep other customers from being fooled.
What Can You Do Moving Forward?
While it’s unrealistic to expect people to review every little company they do business with, I sincerely hope that these points inspire you to write more reviews in the future. Customer reviews are often sincere, and that kind of sincerity is also a hint at how the business being reviewed conducts itself and how they treat their clients. It’s also important to remember that it is never too late to leave a review. Whether you’ve had service done on your home or ordered a product in the last week or over a year ago, your experience is still valid to share with others. In fact, if you’ve received satisfaction from a product after such a long period of time, that longevity is definitely something to brag about. Home service professionals and contractors especially live on these reviews, so when you get the chance, please head over to Snehta’s website to leave a few words for your favorite local business.