How important are online reviews for SMEs?

Posted by - Angus Robinson on the 14th November 2017

According to recent research, the majority of us spend over 20 hours a week online. With so much time spent on the internet, the importance of online reviews to businesses big and small is not to be ignored.

69% of consumers search for reviews online, with a staggering 88% trusting them just as much as personal recommendations. The likes of Amazon, TripAdvisor and Rotten Tomatoes rely heavily on customer reviews. However, reviews aren’t only a great asset for these large corporations – SMEs can also reap the benefits of positive reviews.

Ratings

The first thing that consumers will notice is a star rating. It’s a fantastic visual representation of how good your company rates. If consumers are in a hurry, they won’t bother to delve further into the reasoning behind certain ratings – so whilst a good rating is going to attract your customers immediately, a poor one will deter them just as quickly. 72% of consumers will consider buying a product or service with a 3-star rating, however only 27% of consumers will do the same if it has a 2-star rating. If your customers think that your business provides an amazing service, make sure everyone else sees that too. Highlighting just how great existing clients think you are is a good way to attract and encourage new potential clients.

Reviews

The internet is full of funny reviews of products and services both ordinary and obscure. However, get a funny review (many of which have even gone viral) and it can even cause an increase in sales. Here are some of our favourite Amazon reviews:

Customer Review

A great example are the reviews for this wolf shirt – since the reviews gained popularity, sales of the t-shirt went up 2,300%!

Customer Review

However, people are more honest (and so often more brutal!) online. Businesses on sites such as TripAdvisor know that all it takes is a few bad reviews to damage perceptions of your company and business altogether. Great fun for us to have a laugh at, but not so great for the business or the customers.

Negative Review
Negative review

Reviews can be great when they’re a glowing report of your service. But it’s important to remember that no industry can safeguard against negative responses, despite their best efforts. Responding to negative reviews shows that you’re aware of your audience and are actively trying to improve your service or resolve ongoing issues. Ignoring them could show future clients that you’re just not bothered.

Instead of this:

Bad customer response

Consider something like this:

Good customer response

Regardless of the size of your business, reviews can be a great asset. Not only do they encourage new customers but are also important in helping improve your service for the future.

Testimonials

The third option for online reviews are testimonials. A more formal and less risky kind of review that gives the control back to you. Testimonials allow you to handpick the best reviews that you want to showcase. It gives businesses control of what reaches their audience – supporting the credibility and reputation of the company.

Testimonials are often shoved into the back archives of a website, in a long unattractive list where no one ventures very often. Could you be making more of your testimonials? There are loads of great ways to show them off – why not include them on your home page or post them on social media? Make sure they can gain maximum exposure so potential customers can view any previous glowing reviews you’ve received.

An example of one of our testimonials:

Cymphony Testimonial

Online reviews are essential to not only attract consumers to your business, but to encourage conversion too. With 70% of us trusting a review from someone we don’t even know, it’s vital in proving the quality of your service and encouraging more custom. Don’t fear any bad reviews either – of course you want to keep them to a minimum but they’re a great way to see the areas you need to improve on and demonstrate to your customers that you take their comments seriously and will act upon them. Reviews are bound to have an effect on your business whether they are positive, negative, or just funny. Regardless of the size of your business or the profession you’re in, reviews should be exposed to reinforce to potential customers how credible your service really is.