The Power of Online Business Reviews

If you don’t already know it, online business reviews have become a “thing.” What we mean by that is sites such as Google, Amazon, and Yelp, which allow consumers to write a review of a business’ products and services, are no longer to be ignored. The very survival of your franchise could depend on it. In this edition of FranNet’s blog, we’re going to see just how far online reviews have come in shaping consumer’s perceptions of businesses.

By now, you might even be familiar with the drill. Say it’s a Saturday, and you need some hardware for a do-it-yourself project at home. Well, there’s a neighborhood hardware store, LeeRoy’s Hardware, two miles away. What are they like? By simply Googling their business name, a link will show up asking if you want to read reviews of other people’s customer interactions.

Consider this review first:

“5 Stars! LeeRoy was so knowledgeable in helping me buy a new cordless drill. He explained the different voltages and why I didn’t need the most expensive and powerful model. Definitely recommend shopping here!”

Now consider if you read this review:

“Waited over 20 minutes for a single salesperson to ask if I needed any help. Customer service rep obviously wasn’t familiar with the type of fasteners I needed. Next time, try Home Depot.”

If you read the second review, would you make the two-mile trip to LeeRoy’s hardware?

Compiled by the data blog, Invesp, the following statistics offer a fascinating view of how in touch our consumers are with the reputation of a business. By the numbers and in order, we present five facts: 

  • 90% of consumers will read an online review before visiting a business
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 86% of consumers report hesitation in visiting a business after reading a negative review
  • 72% of consumers will trust a local business and take action after reading a positive review
  • 56% of consumers typically read between 2-6 online reviews for a business before trusting

If you owned a franchise, wouldn’t you want to monitor your online reviews on at least a weekly basis? The statistics prove how valuable the customer experience can be, regardless of what it is you’re selling.

The same blog counsels having an action plan in place in the event of a negative review. The number one factor? Be ready to respond quickly to a negative review. If you routinely read online reviews, you’re bound to see a few dissatisfied customers. But what’s really interesting is reading how particular establishments react. Often times, after a negative review, a restaurant manager will respond directly for all to see. These responses typically include an offer to reconcile with the customer and perhaps even a discount on the next visit. This shows readers that the business cares what its customers think about them.

If you run a tight ship and are proud of your own customer outreach, you can solicit online reviews in your favor. Simply ask. Many customers sign up for email updates on sales, loyalty programs, and other happenings and there is nothing wrong in asking for their opinion of your operation. It’s all about a new buzzword taking over the industry—consumer advocacy. Use it to your advantage and build a positive reputation for your franchise in your local community.

Let’s chat! There’s a local FranNet consultant right in your market who knows that market inside and out – knows the personality of the market – knows the competitive landscape. FranNet has a great track record of assisting individuals on their path to entrepreneurship, and one of our franchise experts would love to provide you with guidance free of charge. Sound like something you might be interested in? Get started here and find your local consultant right now!

Apr 27, 2017