In December last year, Bright Local published the results of their Consumer Review Survey for 2018 looking at changing online behaviours and the importance of customer reviews to local businesses. And there were some interesting statistics amongst their findings.
How convincing are online customer reviews?
The strength of public feeling about online reviews is actually pretty surprising. In fact, Bright Local found that:
- Consumers read an average of 10 reviews before feeling able to trust local businesses.
- 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 57% of consumers will only buy or use a business service if it has at least a 4-star rating.
These stats make for a pretty compelling argument for focusing on using customer reviews to your advantage. But what makes them so powerful?
The power of online reviews
We’ve long known that people tend to ask family and friends for recommendations when they’re looking for a product or service, particularly a local one, such as finding an estate agent to sell your home. But now, thanks to social media we can reach out and find information like never before.
Sites like TripAdvisor have risen in popularity as they’re seen as a way to find out, in the blink of an eye, what others think about the holiday we’re about to book. And whatever others think, it must be true, right?
Because of ‘social proof’.
The psychology behind social proof
Social proof is the idea that if we see others doing something, we’re more likely to want to do it too. Especially if we perceive those people as similar to ourselves.
It explains why we’re more likely to want to visit the busy restaurant over the one that only has a few tables occupied, or why we might be inclined to choose one brand of jeans over another.
Social proof can come in many guises, including celebrity endorsements, expert approval or simply recommendation by the masses. But it has the same effect. To make us sit up and take notice, and take a step closer to making a purchase decision.
How to get started with online reviews
Collating customer reviews doesn’t require any kind of special software, in fact commonly used sites such as Google and Facebook offer easily accessible platforms.
If you don’t have a free Google My Business profile page it’s well worth setting one up as this will benefit you in terms of being found in local internet searches, and also allows customers to leave reviews and comments, giving you an indicative star rating. Your Facebook business page offers this too. Both of these will give online searchers some confidence that you are worth following up or contacting for Spanish home buying support.
But how can you get customers to leave reviews?
The simple answer to this is just ask them.
If you’ve been putting in place a process to improve your after sales service as we suggested a couple of weeks ago, you’ll be in the perfect position to drop your customer a line a few weeks after their sale or purchase has gone through. Ask how things are going and whether there’s anything they need from you, and then provide them with the link to your Facebook and/or Google My Business pages, asking them to leave a short review about your services that might help others to decide on an agent.
Many people will be happy to oblige, particularly where you’ve enjoyed a positive relationship with you.
But this isn’t a one-off exercise, Bright Local also found that “40% of consumers only take into account reviews written within the past 2 weeks – up from 18% last year”, meaning this needs to become a regular part of your after-care process.
Using customer reviews to boost your marketing
Obviously there is benefit in simply having the reviews sitting on your business pages online so that people can read them to help them decide whether to contact you. But there are plenty of ways you can get even greater value from them, here are some of our favourites:
- Feature some of the best reviews on your website, including letting everyone know how many 5-star reviews you have.
- Share screenshots and snippets on social media (you could create templates for this to make them easy to create and use).
- Use select reviews along with relevant images on marketing literature including leaflets.
- Print key testimonials onto posters and display them in your agency window.
And don’t forget to try to include roughly equal numbers for all of the different services you’re trying to promote, to appeal to the different groups of customers you want to attract – think sellers, buyers, renters etc.
The importance of responding to reviews
It’s important to note that you’ll need to keep an eye on what’s happening on your review pages. For example, if someone happens to write something less than positive, you’ll want to head it off before it becomes an issue.
Bright Local reported that “89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews” making it a great PR exercise to respond. And remember, a negative review is not the end of the world.
In fact, a considered response to a negative review can actually be used to demonstrate your customer service approach and create a positive image.
Potential customers usually know that not everything goes right all of the time, it’s how you deal with it that counts.