As researching goods and services online becomes the norm, businesses devote considerable time and money to cultivate the best reputation they can. They make sure their websites have the right messages and images, craft careful social media posts, and generally do everything possible to ensure that potential customers see them in the best possible light.
That’s why it’s no surprise when potential customers want to find out – before they buy – whether the companies are truly as good as they claim to be.
And it’s no surprise that when customers seek a way to publicly compare notes without the scrupulous care of a pro-company marketing team, these businesses get a little nervous. What if the only customers who post are the few the company couldn’t make happy? What if the people who give opinions aren’t customers at all, but are simply trolls who enjoy finding a new way to get attention?
Thankfully, research shows that customer review sites tend to boost businesses who consistently deliver on their promises. And even better, customers report that online reviews overwhelmingly match their own experiences with those companies.
The online research giant Comscore recently weighed in on the subject with some quantitative research assessing consumers’ experiences with review sites. Their findings were pretty compelling, starting with the fact that a full 24% of internet users report using online reviews prior to making purchasing decisions. And that included services that were delivered offline rather than just online products and services.
And what were consumers’ experiences with using online reviews? The news is all good for consumers and review sites alike. Nearly all consumers (97%) who made a purchase based on an online review said they found the review to be accurate.
But is that also good news for businesses? Only if your service is good enough to get good reviews posted. And it’s actually great news if your service is good enough to get great reviews posted. Apparently, consumers indicated they are willing to pay between 20% and 99% more for services that receive a 5-star review versus those receiving a 4-star review.
That may be of little comfort for business owners who are convinced that review sites are only used by “complainers” who are on a vendetta against their companies. But the data from Yelp suggests that this concern is unfounded. When they analyzed the reviews by their 50 million monthly users, they found that 74% of reviews were positive and a full 32% of all reviews were actually a full 5-stars.
Given that businesses are gaining new customers from online review sites and consumers have indicated that they are happy with their experiences from online reviews, it’s a clear win/win!