Marketing company Uberall Inc. released new data on how small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) feel about online customer reviews across various platforms, including Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Instagram and Google.
More than 300 of these SMB owners were asked a series of questions about their relationship with customer reviews and the role they play in their overall business strategy.
More than 90% of SMBs think online reviews are important
When asked how important SMB business owners thought online reviews were, 54% said “very important, while 28% believe said “moderately important.” In addition, 9% believe that online reviews are “slightly important” to their business and 9% don’t think they are important at all.
“Online reviews are essential to SMBs,” said Florian Huebner, Founder and Co-CEO of Uberall. “SMBs typically play in a crowded marketplace, making positive reviews a critical differentiator and a major lead-generation tool.”
63% of SMBs encourage customers to post reviews online
Asking customers to share an online review about their experience is a good way for smaller and mid-sized businesses to receive constructive feedback about someone’s experience. And today, more and more SMBs are asking for these reviews. Sixty-three percent ask customers to leave a review online — whether it’s positive or negative — while 37% do not.
“Business owners are clearly seeing the value in asking customers to leave reviews online once they’ve left the store or business,” Huebner said. “Both positive and negative reviews help businesses pinpoint which areas they need to adjust and which they can keep as is.”
86% respond to reviews — but frequency varies
Once a customer posts a review online, it’s up to the business whether they’re going to respond to it or not. And, it turns out, most of them do. According to Uberall’s study, 37% of SMBs always respond to online reviews, while 25% say they respond “frequently,” but not always. In addition, 26% say they “sometimes” respond and 14% never do.
And of those who respond to customer reviews, 81% respond to both positive and negative reviews, while 6% only respond to negative reviews and 12% only respond to positive reviews.
“A constructive dialogue between a business owner and customer is good for both parties,” said Huebner. “This interaction shows the customer that the business truly cares about them since they’re willing to have such a personalized conversation. For a business, their response could play a major role in whether or not they decide to return.”
Most SMBs respond to negative reviews to rectify a problem
When asked why an SMB would be likely to respond to a negative review, 32% said “to implement solutions to issues that are being clearly cited by customers as problematic.” Other responses were “to show other potential/future customers that we are attentive and care” (29%), “to discover quality control failures in your place of business” (20%), “to win back an unhappy customer” (20%) and “other” (1%).
“Negative reviews allow SMBs to see potential areas of their business where people think they can improve on,” Huebner said. “If a customer leaves a negative response, a proactive way for the SMB to minimize the damage is to respond to their concern or problem. Showing that they value their customers’ opinion presents a positive image and can ultimately help keep the business — or win more — in the future.”
83% respond to customer reviews within a few days
Uberall’s survey found that SMBs tend to respond relatively quickly to customer reviews. Forty-three percent respond “within a few days,” while 39% respond either as soon as they’re posted or within 24 hours. Other responses included “within a few weeks” (7%), “once a month” (5%) or “less than once a month” (6%).
“Most SMBs believe that responding to customer reviews while they’re new is a good way to show that they’re taking the customer seriously,” said Huebner. “Allowing time to go by before responding shows that they aren’t a high priority and can leave a bad taste in the customer’s mouth, costing future business and revenue.”
For Uberall’s SMB Customer Review Report, visit: https://m.uberall.com/SMB_Customer_Review_Survey_NA.