Online reviews are the new marker of quality for brands. Some even say that review sites, like Yelp, are the best thing that’s happened to small businesses. They make it easier for people to discover locally and voice their opinions without a filter, and they give businesses a wider reach with a direct line of communication to their customers.
47% of people say they’re likely to seek out online reviews when looking to try a new retail store, according to our recent survey of 1,800 consumers. And it doesn’t stop there:
- Businesses can see revenue jump 9% for every star increase in their rating.
- 49% of people won’t use a business with fewer than 4 out of 5 stars.
- 85% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
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Where do people leave online reviews?
There are a number of platforms people use to review businesses online. The ones you should make sure you’re listed on are:
Why do people leave negative reviews?
Though it might sound like a cliché, customer experience sometimes gets overlooked when you’re caught up in day to day business operations. This is often a key influencer for people getting disgruntled. Here are the top five reasons from our survey that retail businesses get reviewed negatively:
- 61% - staff were rude or inattentive
- 47% - the store was dirty or uninviting
- 44% - products were poor in quality
- 20% - there was nobody around to help
- 14% - there were strong smells
Why do people leave positive reviews?
Shaping your business around positive reviews is worth it in the long run, even if some changes require more planning than others. Here are the top five factors most likely to make people write a positive review of a retailer:
- 35% - free gift with a purchase
- 35% - forgiving returns and exchange policies (without a receipt)
- 32% - free returns
- 29% - they helped customers find an item somewhere else
- 29% - they offer a loyalty program
How to get good online reviews
There are many things you can do to encourage good online reviews and discourage negative ones. Here are some that will definitely get you moving towards that coveted 5-star rating.
Hire (and retain) great staff
Your staff are the face of your business, and their approach to customer service as well as their craft embodies how your brand will be perceived. Employee management tools give you insight into which of your staff are performing best and who needs extra training.
When hiring new employees, be clear about the expectations for the role, and look for people who are motivated to meet those. A set of clear company values will help you work out if they’re the right fit.
Once you’ve built your star team, it takes positive leadership and ongoing nurturing to keep those individuals motivated. At the very least, you should have a company code that empowers your staff with the insight to know whether they’re reaching yours and your customers’ expectations.
To ensure your store is an inviting and hygienic place for customers to be, create a checklist for daily tidying up — that everyone is responsible for. Take a moment or two when you open up shop in the morning to check that everything is clean, fresh and inviting from the customer’s point of view.
Offer free shipping
With many big retail names adding extra for standard post, free delivery can be a big pull for your business. Even if you’re not an e-commerce business, you could still offer free delivery from your store to save people the hassle of carrying their item home. You could also use a price minimum to encourage customers to spend a certain amount to receive free shipping.
Create a loyalty program
According to Bond’s 2018 Loyalty Report, 77% of people say loyalty programs make them more likely to stay with brands. For your small retail business, this could come in the form of free gifts, discounted delivery or VIP access to new products. Build a sustainable approach that doesn’t damage your bottom line, and one that can be customised for each of your customers’ unique tastes — someone who frequently buys products in store isn’t going to be blown away by free delivery perks, for example.
Update your returns policy
You can use customer feedback to discover what people are actually looking for in their ideal returns policy. This will help you create and communicate one that truly impacts the quality of your reviews. Based on our survey, offering the opportunity to return items free, without a paper receipt, is one of the most impactful things you can do.
How to respond to reviews
When people see brands taking the time to communicate with their customers, it creates a great vibe. It not only shows them that you care, but that your business is actually active. Always thank customers for good reviews and mention future perks to invite them back.
When dealing with negative feedback, there’s one thing people hate — retaliation. Remember that the whole world can see your exchange with an unhappy customer, so keep it simple and apologise, explain any misunderstanding, offer compensation where it’s due and invite them to discuss the matter further on a less public platform.
Just as there are many things that prompt people to leave negative online reviews, there’s an equal number that prompt positivity. Many of the solutions and opportunities for both are easy to achieve for small retailers. The answers lie in the reviews and feedback you’ve received already, so take the time to analyse people’s opinions and get together with your team to create a realistic solution-focused strategy.