How customer reviews help drive success amongst SMEs

bad reviews

Consumers are more empowered than ever before. In the online world, customers have a milieu of ways to express their opinions and voice their concerns about the service that a business is offering.

In many cases, online reviews can be the difference between success and failure. Research shows that an increasing number of customers are checking reviews before buying a product or service online, and rejecting companies whose service levels aren’t up to scratch. Businesses operating online recognise this and continue to go to painstaking lengths in protecting their reputations.

For SMEs, a few bad reviews here and there can spell serious danger. Losing a few loyal customers may not seem like a big thing for large businesses, but for SMEs, negative reviews can prove catastrophic.

Online reviews play a big part in influencing purchasing decisions amongst potential buyers. Positive reviews are shown to increase sales and spend from customers as well as help companies improve their search rankings. They build trust and credibility and, consequently, have a positive impact on brand reputation.

Negative reviews can be equally beneficial. Negative reviews allow companies to flag up issues and act on them, and are crucial for tracking customer frustration. Such feedback gives SMES the opportunity to highlight commitment and responsiveness to customer service, which, as we know, is crucial in today’s day and age. Negative feedback may also signal areas of a business which need be changed or adapted to better serve an audience, and so turning a blind eye to it could be detrimental in the long-run.

In responding to online reviews, SMEs gain a much better understanding of what their customers want, and are able to move forward more effectively. Such engagement is great for building relationships and demonstrating customer service. Studies indicate that a majority of customers return in instances where negative reviews are responded to. But, to what lengths will companies go to keep their ratings high online?

In recent months, an increasing number of businesses have landed themselves in hot water by purchasing fake reviews online and passing them off as genuine. A previous report revealed that fake reviews are being purchased on Amazon by merchants in a bid to boost product sales.

According to the report: “Many of these fraudulent reviews originate on Facebook, where sellers seek shoppers on dozens of networks, including Amazon Review Club and Amazon Reviewers Group, to give glowing feedback in exchange for money or other compensation.”

Spotting these reviews isn’t always easy. However, most tend to come across as exaggeratingly positive and may be short on information. Genuine reviews, on the other hand, are often detailed and personalised, and include concrete information like names and dates.

As a service company, SilverDoor Apartments places great worth in the importance of customer reviews. In 2015, we established a partnership with the company Trustpilot, which promotes registered businesses by publishing online reviews about them.

Trustpilot gives SMEs a platform to fully utilise their customer feedback and turn it into a powerful marketing tool. Contrary to other review sites, Trustpilot has a reputation for honest, trustworthy reviews which are authentic and unfiltered. The company champions transparency above all else, and allows companies to gain and retain customers legitimately. Trustpilot makes it easy to both obtain reviews and process them, and works with some of the biggest companies out there including Travelex, Royal Mail and Superdry.

Over the last three years, our Trustpilot score has soared thanks to the work of our Account Management teams, and now sits at a formidable 9.8, based on over 400 reviews, with 88% of people ranking us as excellent.

Our Trustpilot presence has proved pivotal in helping us build a credible reputation as a company. It gives a voice to not only the guests that stay in our apartments but also the travel managers who book accommodation through us for their clients. It’s helped drive traffic to our website, and improve our visibility on Google, which, in turn, has led to an increase in bookings.

Given the benefits attached to online review sites, it’s no wonder so many small business owners are marketing their services on them. In many cases, your customer base depends on it.