My eighteen year old daughter is quite the savvy shopper. Whether she’s shopping for a new brand of blush or a pair of black leather boots, she employs the same systematic approach to her shopping. My smart daughter is part of the 85% of American shoppers that read reviews first before buying anything. Not only does she read the reviews, she talks about them with her friends. I’ve listened to her describe how she reads both good and bad reviews before each well thought out purchase.
In the 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by BrightLocal, the number of American and Canadian shoppers that regularly check reviews before making a purchase is growing. By the time the consumer is reading reviews on a product or service, he or she is not making a decision to buy or not to buy, but rather where to buy. Products and services with little to no reviews – good or bad – are not even in the mix of final choices.
Seventy-three percent of those surveyed by BrightLocal make their decision to trust a business based on consumer reviews posted online.
The Baby Boomers stopped trusting the commercials that told us that four out five dentists recommend Crest in the 1970’s. In the new millennia, our children are even more skeptical and have grown up publishing their opinion about everything they purchase with a small device in the palm of their hand that keeps them connected internationally. Mobile devices – much more than portable phones – can become weapons of mass destruction by disgruntled customers or even previous employees when leveled against a small business.
The analysis of the BrightLocal survey confirmed that reviews – both positive and negative – have a powerful impact on the bottom line of local small businesses.
Small business owners must take a proactive approach to manage their online presence. It’s not enough to have a website – it’s critical that owners take a holistic approach to their own reputation management. This approach should include monitoring and managing comments made in social media as well as reviews posted.
Owners cannot control everything posted about their business online but by monitoring reviews owners can be proactive in solving problems. If you’re a small business owner take action.
- Monitor your online reputation
- Encourage and campaign for honest, authentic and positive reviews
- Don’t run scared from negative reviews
- Do make a plan for how customer service problems will be addressed before unhappy customer becomes an ugly review
- Use reviews as your laboratory to hear your customers hopes and dreams as they relate to your product or service. These could be the laboratory for some good old fashioned American innovation.
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