The feedback economy

Could online reviews help your business?

Our survey of 2,000 customers and 500 businesses revealed the importance of online review sites to the hospitality and leisure sector.

Online review websites are changing the way businesses manage their image. What people think of your business can determine its success – and now people can publish their honest views online.

45% of the customers we asked said they were more likely to write an online review now than they were 18 months ago. This upward trend is common to all age groups, but there’s a spike among younger people. Overall, 60% of people said they trusted online reviews, but this figure rose to 71% in the 18-34 age group.

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Think about younger people

One of the stand-out findings from the survey was the importance of online reviews to the younger generation. As these consumers get older and their spending power goes up, it’s likely that online reviews will become increasingly important.

If you cater to customers from all age groups, you could be more likely to see positive reviews in the future. And, with more young people relying on online reviews to make decisions, you may see more of them using your business as a result.

Understand the benefits

Don’t try to limit the amount of customer feedback your business attracts. Our survey shows that 70% of businesses have found that published customer feedback attracts more customers than it puts off. And a staggering 82% of businesses believe that online reviews have been beneficial to their business.

There are several reasons for this. First of all, any review increases the profile of your business – even if it isn’t entirely positive. Having a presence online is important and reviews on popular websites can help. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, reviews can provide you with critical constructive criticism that will help you to improve.

Act on the feedback

It’s important to act on customer feedback.

45% of the small and medium-sized businesses we surveyed said that reviews had exposed weak points in their operation, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

This is because it gives you a chance to fix things. Many businesses have changed their strategy or come up with new ideas as a result of negative feedback, and the results have been positive. Indeed, 54% of businesses said that review sites helped to improve their customer service.

Small and medium-sized businesses tend to have more capacity to respond to customer feedback online. The survey highlighted this, showing that 52% of smaller businesses were likely to respond to feedback in 24 hours – whereas only 30% of larger businesses do the same.

It would help to set up a process for reviewing customer feedback – that way you can respond and make any amends in a timely, effective manner.

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