Online Reviews Replacing Traditional Word of Mouth

When I was young, we’d always spread the word about things to do in the ‘hood using our voices. It limited the spread of our messages to the neighborhood itself and also lengthened the time it took for a good or bad message to be received.

The importance of recommendations from friends hasn’t changed in today’s faster paced and “always on” environment. Today we place even more importance on friends’ recommendations with some saying their reliance on recommendations is nearly the only thing they consider when making a decision. Research shows it as high 90%! At the same time, our always-on society has changed how we get, make, and receive those recommendations. Oftentimes they aren’t even from “real” friends, yet they are even more important than they used to be.

Today a person’s review can ruin or grow a business in mere minutes. Businesses must be aware of what’s being said and take steps to address poor reviews. With so many sites where reviews matter it can be difficult, especially for small businesses.

Listening is critical

Every business should have a system to listen to what’s being said online and offline. This can be as simple as a Google Alert that arrives in your inbox each day.

But it’s really only the first step

When those Google Alerts arrive it’s important to read them and check online for more information to get the whole story. It’s also important to respond for several reasons. The person who took the time to write the review deserves a response but also, people who are looking at reviews will see your response too and know you care.

Responding is just as important

If you have a Google Alert, read what is said and respond to the individuals. Be sure to consider what is said from as impartial a standpoint as possible. Even if you don’t agree with a customer’s statement, they believe it has validity and that it was important enough they took time to tell you about it. Further, it’s likely others agree but didn’t take the time to write a review. Are there changes you could make in your business to address the reviewer’s concerns? Were there issues the day the person was there? Might there be more to the story? Is there something you could say/do to improve it?

Help is available

Most small business owners have their hands full running the business. That’s why having a communications team help with the listening, hearing, and commenting is a wise investment. It should be part of any business’ communications plan. If you’d like to visit further about your particular business and how a communications team can help, please let me know. I’ll spend the first hour, without charge, learning about your business before putting together a proposal to meet your needs.

The Barber Group

Gig Harbor, Washington


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