Every good business owner knows the importance of reputation. What your customers think about your company, products, and services matters. And what they say publicly has the potential to make or break your business overnight. With internet penetration growing exponentially all over the world and people more connected than ever before, what accounts for the public sphere has ever larger remit. In other words, what people say on the internet has the ability to go further and influence larger numbers of potential customers. So, here are some of the main reasons that online reviews matter to your business:

Online Reviews Are Important To Potential Customers

Reviews, whether online or in-person, are incredibly important to those who are looking to buy a product or engage in a service agreement with your business. Consumers are becoming increasingly internet-savvy these days. According to a 2019 survey by BrightLocal, around 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. Online reviews are very much like personal recommendations. Therefore, it is highly likely that before a customer engages with your business in any way, they will have done their research.

Reviews Help Brands Get Noticed (Hopefully For The Right Reasons)

No matter how good your product or service is, it won’t make much difference to the bottom line if there is no brand awareness. Those who have tried and tested what your business has to offer are in a position to speak authoritatively about their personal experiences. If what they have to say is overwhelmingly positive, then it reflects well on the business and helps build trust among future customers. By the same token, if multiple people voice unfavorable opinions about your company, then it’s likely your brand will be noticed but not for the right reasons.

Unverified Reviews Have The Potential To Damage Your Business

Internet users are often able to post unrestricted on public forums such as Facebook, Yelp, and Google. No one is to know whether or not they actually had a genuine experience with a particular business, or they are potentially an irate competitor who is looking to get ahead in the game. Believe it or not, the fake review economy is pretty big, with 39% of 27 million online reviews analyzed in a study proving to be unreliable. With the potential of risk to business being so high, it’s easy to see why it’s important to keep track of your online reviews.

Reviews Play An Important Role In Reputation Management

In the case of any business, it isn’t going to be possible to please all of the people all of the time. Customers may not have carried out their research fully or had unrealistically high expectations, which resulted in disappointment further down the line. While it is true that increasing numbers of consumers regularly provide honest reviews online, the fact is that those that are satisfied with a product or service may simply forget to leave a review whereas those with a bone to pick are more motivated to take to the internet in a vocal manner. But it is not all doom and gloom. Even in the case of negative reviews, businesses can respond to unfavorable reviews in a positive way, showing the wider market that the company is proactive in taking action to appease disappointed customers.

In this digital age, what people say about a business in the online sphere matters. Online reviews provide increased exposure for a business in the public arena, which has the potential to be both a blessing and a curse, depending on what exactly the consumers are saying. It is crucial that as a business owner, you don’t dismiss the influence of online reviews. Regardless of whether they are positive or negative, online reviews need to be properly managed and responded to in order to ensure that the company is seen to value customer opinion.

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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.