Customers previously received business recommendations from their friends, family, and neighbours. The “word-of-mouth” method has historically been the most reliable and effective way to grow your customer base. However, the internet has changed this — potential customers are now relying heavily on reviews, perhaps more than you think! Online reviews are the new “word-of-mouth.”
The data shows that almost all new customers use reviews to determine which business to choose. In fact, the “Local Consumer Review “LCR” Survey 2020” by BrightLocal revealed that 87% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, up from 81% in 2019. Word-of-mouth was previously one of the only ways new customers heard about a business. There weren’t as many options to choose from, which made it easier for customers to decide and ensured they were loyal to the company. With the internet and online reviews, that process has grown and evolved.
Today even when someone receives a referral from a friend or family member, the first thing they will likely do is research you or your company — specifically, they will read reviews. And when people need additional information about a business, they will turn to online reviews for this information. Reviews, therefore, directly result in them taking action.
Online reviews build trust with your customers and potential customers in a way that “word-of-mouth” no longer does. For example, a customer might use the same mechanic that his sister uses because he trusts her opinion and it’s convenient, but it’s not an unbiased opinion. Reviews allow customers to review multiple assessments about a service, not just learn what their closest relative thinks.
However, reviews don’t just build trust and affinity; they will also increase your sales and allow you to obtain more customers than any “word-of-mouth” conversation can. And speaking of, make sure you’re asking your customers for reviews!