Posted On
July 6, 2018

Q&A with Your Typical Customer About Online Reviews

You’ve heard me talk plenty about online reviews and how important they are. I have explained the different ways to get online reviews and even how to respond to negative reviews. Well, now it’s time to hear from prospective customers out there about how their experience with online reviews!

I recently had a chance to speak with our everyday customers. Everyone that I spoke with has a different perspective of online reviews and how they use them.

Each individual will use online reviews for different reasons. I polled a group of everyday customers about which review sites they use and how they use them.

I asked 5 people my first question about how how directly online reviews affect their purchases. I was able to speak with Craig Kilgore, a senior-level marketer with over 10 years of experience, Neil K. Carroll, the owner and creative director of Nickel City Graphics, Reginald Swygert a sales & marketing professional, Cliff Quinn an expert in educational technology and Megan Fisher a commercial real estate executive.

Q1: How do you use online reviews to affect your purchase?

CK: “When making a product purchase, I typically look at any native reviews on the site I’m shopping on (Amazon for example). If it’s a common product, I might conduct a Google search and pay attention to any start ratings right in the search results. If something stands out to me, I’ll visit that site and read more into it, but I’d say 98% of my review consumption takes place right on the site I’m purchasing from. If it’s a restaurant I’m considering or service I’m looking into, I’ll do most of my research on Google My Business.”

NC: “Reviews are a huge part the customer buying cycle these days. They probably have the most direct impact in online retail. Personally, I always read reviews prior to purchasing online and what I see plays a big part in what I decide to buy. I know I’m not alone. 93% of online shoppers site reviews as an important factor in their buying decision. Believable and authentic reviews on industry specific sites and/or Amazon are gold for the online retailer.

RS: Before I travel anywhere I always check TripAdvisor. I read the good and bad reviews. I don’t give too much value to bad reviews because I think people are quick to bash a business before praising it. When people write a great review I know there something there worth visiting. Never rule out a business with a low rating.

CQ: “I use Yelp all the time to find places to eat when I am out of town for work.  I am almost always looking for casual places that have a bar/diner counter for me to eat at.  I rarely pick a spot that didn’t have pictures of the inside of the place on the profile or in the reviews.  I usually end up eating something that was recommended in a review.”

MF: “Whether it be a restaurant, business, service or product, the first thing I do is Google it.  Pretty much anything over 4 stars on Google or Facebook is good in my book, but I still read a couple of the negative reviews (even on recipes!) just to see what the downside is. I figure if someone is taking their time to write a review, they’re either impressed or unimpressed for a significant reason.”

With so many different review sites to choose I’m curious what the everyday customer chooses to look at first. I was able to question Michael Spence a workforce strategist improving people, performance & profits, Neil K. Carroll, the owner and creative director of Nickel City Graphics, and Joseph Rivers an expert in experiential & business development,

Q2: What review sites do you frequent the most?

MS: “In my opinion, review sites can be a bit jaded and one sided. Meaning one unsatisfied customer with a poor experience is quick to pull out an app and say something bad. There could have been 100 satisfied customers that day who didn’t leave a review. On the other hand, I will see incentives and giveaways for people who leave a positive review. It’s important that service providers make it part an automated part of their process to request reviews after a purchase so they get honest, timely feedback.I recently read somewhere that all 5 star reviews signal solicited reviews. Where as, a 4 start review says someone cared enough to be critical and share a way you can improve. The value of reviews are in the comments.”

NC: For B2C brick and mortar businesses reviews on Google, Yelp and Facebook play a big roll in where people buy. Especially when travelling, people look to these types or reviews to allow them to ‘eat like a local’ or find the hidden gems of a neighborhood. Reviewers in these situations are the best authority that traveler has to go on, and their reviews make a huge impact.

JR: “Facebook – Not really one I use much.  I check in to different spots like entertainment venues or restaurants where I can then tag my friends/family.  With the negative PR on Facebook currently it’s not much of a go to platform. However, it is nice to keep track of the spots I’ve visited.

Foursquare – My favorite actually.  I use this to find top places for food, bars, museums, parks and any go to spots in different cities.  I use this extensively across the world in 35 states and 17 countries. It really has everything sorted out, from ease of use interface, rating system and photos.

TripAdvisor – I use this for go to questions I may have about a particular area.  Like whether or not a spot like Vegas has free luggage checks at hotels, or if its safe to walk around a specific area of Tokyo.

Overall, reviews have become the future.  From Uber to any of the aforementioned sites/apps – people will base their decision to go to a spot to eat, a place to travel to, a person or an activity from a review.  Enough bad reviews can really hurt. It is smart to have a good reaction to both good and bad reviews. Make sure to be as authentic as possible. People may not always know what they are talking about, but one person can sniff out “paid” reviews and spot phony behavior.”

Lastly I was curious to hear about different aspects that a user would look for when deciding on a business. I had the chance to question Neil K. Carroll, the owner and creative director of Nickel City Graphics, Craig Kilgore, a senior-level marketer with over 10 years of experience, and Brian Cleary, Manager, Martin Sport.

Q3: What do you look for in review profiles of a businesses you would buy from

NC: For my own business, most of our clients are B2B, given that fact, the most important review platform is Google. When a customer searches directly for one of our clients – their Google listing is at the top of the search results. When they search for a specific service, Google Maps results are above the fold. If their business listing is optimized, they can top that list and, to circle this back around, a big part of that optimization is reviews. Google loves them and they especially love them on their own platform.”

CK: “I take most reviews with a grain of salt. I look for commonalities or trends as I skim reviews and put more weight on that versus star ratings alone. If a product or service has a 5-star rating, I’ll pay close attention to the reviewers and make a determination if they seem legitimate or not. I personally value more reviews than less to where I might preference a business that has 100 3- and 4-star reviews over a business with two 5-star reviews. When it comes to negative reviews, I’ll sometimes click on the reviewers profile and look to see if they’re active elsewhere. Do they only rate businesses when they have a bad experience, or are they providing genuine feedback, both positive and negative? If they’re only leaving reviews when they have a bad experience and their reviews seem nitpicky or unreasonable, I’ll discredit them completely.”

BC: “Word of mouth referrals and recommendations will always be one of the most powerful forms of marketing. Online reviews are the digital version for referrals. Promoting the use of sites such as Google My Business, Facebook or other industry-specific review sites should be a priority in your digital strategy.”

Reviews are important, I think we can all agree there. Now, it’s time for you to make it an important part of your marketing strategy.

You can see the variety of everyone’s response about which review sites they use and how they use them. This should show you that you need to be monitoring all review sites and asking for reviews after every interaction.

Online reviews are the new word of mouth and we know you work hard to create a great customer experience. Let’s get your customers talking about your business online!

Are you interested in taking the next steps with your companies own online reviews? Check out RepCheckup for a free trial. Tell them Jeff sent you: (800) 818-7199 or sales@getrepcheckup.com

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Jeff Quinn
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