Survey Local Unveiled: How Online Reviews Affect Your Local Business
The Power of Positive Online Reviews
It is no wonder that online reviews carry significant weight in consumer buying behavior with the information overload on the internet. I’ll be the first one to admit that whenever I’m making a significant purchase I first check reviews from Amazon, Google and others. Similarly, online reviews have become one of the quickest ways to make or break a local company’s worth by accomplishing what used to take months of traditional word of mouth marketing in mere seconds. In fact, our research shows that 70% of Americans say they consult product reviews or consumer ratings before making a purchase (Business Week, October 2009).
The Plague of Fake Online Reviews
As online reviews become more important to businesses, there is more incentive to fake and manipulate reviews for profit. It is impossible to know just how prevalent fake reviews are in a specific industry, but one can only guess the percentage to be quite high (at least 30% by some estimates). I always knew that anyone could post a fake review on Google or Yelp with any made-up user name, but I was shocked to learn that major review sites like Amazon allow people to leave reviews for items they haven’t even purchased! To me, that seems like opening the door to fraud and the equivalent of leaving keys in a parked car with a sign that reads “Please do not steal”.
In the news and on the web, I commonly see opportunists cashing in on the power of online reviews by offering everything from fake review writing to services that literally blackmail companies by posting negative reviews and then requesting a fee to take them down. If your business has yet to be affected by fake reviews either promoting local competitors or demoting yours, consider yourself lucky because this is one of the most common complaints I hear from clients in highly competitive markets. I have seen these factors cost even the most well-run companies customers and in extreme cases, cause businesses to shut down completely. One thing is for sure, online reviews have become too powerful to simply ignore.
Removing fake reviews is often not possible because they are difficult to prove and many review websites lack the level of support needed to handle every case of fraud. By far, the most effective solution to both fake reviews and negative reviews hurting your business is to have your own customers come to your defense online and overwhelm negative responses with true stories of their own satisfaction. This not only dilutes negative ratings, but it pushes them off the front page of review websites where most people are going to be looking. Recent reviews also carry greater weight in a customer’s eyes than older ones. Even if your competitors are stuffed with fake positive reviews, your real reviews can easily outpace theirs in quality and validity in the eyes of your potential customers.
Our Service: Survey Local
Due to the frequency and severity of issues we hear regarding online reviews, we went searching for an easy and cost effective solution to recommend to our clients only to find that no such option exists. At best, current online review services act as an intermediary to try to moderate negative reviews as they surface. Referencing what I mentioned above, we know this is not the most effective way to improve your online reviews. What we were looking for was a tool that could not only prevent negative reviews from being written in the first place, but proactively collect and submit positive reviews from real customers without requiring the business owner’s involvement. Realizing that no such service existed, we decided to develop our own online review management/survey tool which we named Survey Local.
Survey Local: Feedback Collection
In a perfect world, all your satisfied customers would happily take time out of their days and post their positive experiences for others to read. If you think that is the reality, then you probably haven’t been in business for very long. Most customers are willing, yet lack the time and motivation to act. Therefore, the first step in improving your online reviews is improving feedback collection from your customers. To do this, Survey Local assists you in setting up a short, yet effective online customer satisfaction survey. We then help determine to most effective delivery method such as email or printed materials like business cards or invoices.
When done correctly, a satisfaction survey provides a large demographic to pull online reviews from which essentially hits two birds (improving online and offline word of mouth) with one stone. Once you have this feedback, you will not only gain a better understanding of your customers’ buying behavior, but you can segment your customers based on satisfaction levels so that requesting positive online reviews is much easier.
Online Review Integration
Customers who take the survey are automatically funneled into two groups: unsatisfied and satisfied. Notifications are sent instantly alerting you to those who are unsatisfied so you can quickly address their problems and avoid negative online reviews before they are posted. Satisfied customers are asked to submit their reviews to the review website of your choice. We make this step very easy by providing a copy of their review from their survey right next to the link where it can be submitted. Most of your satisfied customers genuinely like to publish positive reviews because they know it will help you out, they just don’t want to take the time writing them up and trying to figure out where to publish them. Survey local eliminates both of these obstacles.
Having a professional and experienced marketing company develop and help distribute a short customer satisfaction survey for you is one of the most beneficial activities your company can engage in. We know how to distribute surveys and incentivize your customers so that they you collect more quality responses. We also know what questions to ask and how to ask them so they directly relate to your profitability. You should want to know things like:
- How are your customers finding you?
- How likely are they to recommend you to a friend?
- Why are certain customers leaving?
- What do your customers really think about your friendliness, value, professionalism, and service?
Guessing about these things is like guessing why your check engine light in your car is on rather than taking it to a mechanic. In today’s economy you cannot afford to throw away customers or lose on possible referrals just because you don’t know what your customers think.
How to Start
It just makes sense to combine a survey tool with an online review promoter because they can both work together making feedback collection and review publishing easier for you and your customers. We realize that professional customer survey tools in the past were expensive and even mysterious to many small-medium businesses, but that ends here and now. Our Survey Local tool is offered for a $200 setup fee and can then be continued on a month to month basis for only $80/month with unlimited email support. Also, our satisfaction guarantee states that if you don’t absolutely love the results after 2 months, we will refund your purchase 100% because we stand by its value.
Why are you still reading this, request your free Survey Local consultation now!