Word-of-Mouth Referrals or Online Reviews? Both!

by Nikki Stine April 03, 2018
Online Review Stars on Tablet
Key Article Takeaways:
  • Get Customer Feedback – Find out what your business is doing well and where you could improve by encouraging feedback.
  • Business Growth – Use the NPS score and specific comments to isolate areas of improvement and what is appreciated most.
  • Tell the world how great you are – Feature the positive reviews on your website
  • Continue to work on your reputation – reach out to new customers on a continued basis to keep your online reviews current and provides ongoing feedback for your business
  • Stand out online – businesses with more online reviews and higher star ratings are more trusted by consumers

Word-of-Mouth & Online Reviews Work Together

The greatest source of new business referrals for many small businesses is word of mouth.  Friends telling friends about a great experience they have, or offering solutions to problems by saying, “I know  a  place!”  These referrals are priceless and will continue to be the backbone of local business growth.  But, did you know according to a recent local review survey, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations!

Additional key findings in this study are that:

93% of consumers will read local reviews to decide if a business is good or not.

And 73% of consumers trust a business more after reading positive reviews.

So even if potential clients hear about your first through word of mouth, chances are they go online and check you out anyway.  What they see there can make a difference on whether they follow through on the suggestion they received from their friend.

What Do Customers Want to See?

What are consumers looking for when they peruse your reviews online?  According this recent survey, the top three items judged are the:

Average star rating of your business

The quantity of reviews

The recency of reviews

Clearly, managing reviews is not something that can be done once at the start of a business and let fall to the wayside.  To keep (or gain) a good reputation online, review management must be an ongoing process.

They Help You Show Up in Search

In addition to building consumer trust, having company reviews online can affect how high you appear in local search engine results.  The most recent study done by Moz, an industry leader in local search, shows that having reviews for your business can affect how you rank online.  They list it as one of the top 7 factors affecting where you show up both in Google’s Map listings and the unpaid search results.

Add to these facts and figures your own experience in using online reviews, and you probably are sold on the value of good reviews.  So how do you get more positive reviews?


The first step in gaining good reviews may sound like a given, but it’s an important start:  be great at your business.  Companies that provide great service are more likely to be positively reviewed.

Wait!  Haven't you heard it said that people are more likely to share a negative experience rather than a positive one?  Well, the survey quoted earlier in this article also indicated that 35% of people asked said they have left a negative review about a business.

In contrast to the 35% of respondents who left a negative review, 63% said they have left a positive review.

It’s worth the effort to go above and beyond to meet and exceed your client’s expectations.  But will people just leave reviews on their own?  Maybe.  But chances are higher if you ask them.

“Ugh,” you may be thinking. “Ask for reviews?  I’d rather not.”  If you are imagining awkward conversations asking your customers for reviews, hear me out and I’ll quickly ease your mind.

Bottom Line: You know you must be great.  But how can you determine areas where you need improvement?  And how can you ask happy customers to leave reviews for you in a way that’s comfortable and easy for you and them?

OnPoint Results Review Management Plan

Our automated platform will help you gather customer feedback and encourage online reviews.  It starts with a customized email or text message to begin the feedback process after you enter your customer’s email address or phone number.  The first question is super simple and will be something like: How likely are you to recommend ‘your business’ to a friend or colleague?  Your customer then rates your business on a scale of 1 to 10.

NPS-Question-Get-FeedbackThe replies given to this question will generate your Net Promoter Score (NPS), a widely used customer loyalty metric. (read someone else explain the NPS system here)

Both satisfied and unsatisfied customers are sent to an online form and given a chance to elaborate by answering a follow-up question describing their experience.  Customers who responded positively are encouraged to leave a review on a third-party review site chosen by you, such as Google, Facebook, AngiesList, YellowPages, etc.

Unsatisfied customers receive a response crafted by you, with an assurance that you value their feedback.  Their feedback is only sent to you internally, allowing you to address these problems directly.  This will also decrease the chance of them leaving you a negative review online.

The best-case scenario is that a customer answers the NPS questions positively, leaves additional feedback AND posts it on a third party site.  Even when this doesn’t happen though, several positive results are generated from this process:

  • The first question is super simple (rate on a scale of 1 to 10) and easy to answer. Even if this is the only thing they respond too, the NPS loyalty score generated from this feedback is valuable to your business.
  • Giving customers this outlet of expressing their feelings shortly after interacting with your business helps collect important feedback – both good and bad. The bad perhaps even more so, because it lets you know where you can improve.
  • To further learn about your business, additional rating questions can be added to the survey. Some examples might be: How would you rate the friendliness of our service on a scale of 1 to 10?  Or, On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the product knowledge of our staff?

Our experience with small to medium-sized local business has been that they get very high response rates in this format.  The feedback alone can be priceless to your business.

Although the percentage of customers that leave third-party reviews (on Google, Facebook, etc) is lower, the feedback given directly to you can still help you show off.  By displaying this positive feedback on your website, you'll help build credibility with anyone who visits your site.

It Pays to Plan

Having an ongoing review management plan in action will benefit your online reputation.

Unfortunately, as business owners, you have no control over reviews sites and which ones show up online.  Google may filter some reviews for unknown reasons.  Yelp also has been known to be fast and loose with reviews.  In other instances, specific reviews have been noticed to disappear and then reappear.

The best practice is to keep the flow of positive reviews flowing.   That way you don’t lose any sleep over lost reviews, or even an occasional negative review.

The Review Management Plan is highly customizable and can be made to work specifically for your business.  If you're ready to talk about a review management plan, reach out to us at OnPoint Results.  We'd be happy to explain in further detail and make suggestions based on your business goals.

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