How important are online reviews!

How important are online reviews!

Fortunately, I have lived in what is referred to as the "old days" and the "new days".  When I say the old days, as it relates to ratings, I think of the days that we would survey our customers to determine areas for improvement.  These surveys were critical to our success.  We would establish goals. set strategies and establish action items.  When fixed, we'd survey our customers once again, determining whether or not we had truly fixed it and other customer improvement initiatives.

In the "new days," your customer survey is public.  No longer secret, it is for current customers and prospective customers to see.  Your ratings and reviews.  In this blog, we cover:

  • How important are ratings and reviews?
  • What can we do to get more ratings and reviews?
  • How to respond to ratings and reviews?

The importance of Ratings & Reviews. 

Recently, I was talking to Clay Clarke, Chief Operating Officer of Thrive15 out of Tulsa.  Clay has opened numerous successful businesses and provides marketing advice to companies across the United States.  In our first conversation with Clay, he mentioned to me that in his research, 80% of consumers make a decision to do business with a company based on their reviews.  After doing a little research, I found this information graphic that provides the importance of ratings and reviews (

Now that we can agree that they are extremely important, I would suggest the following business objectives for any business:

1. Get 100 reviews on Google or double your competitors, with the minimum being 25 reviews on Google.

2. Double your competitor's reviews on other important rating platforms.

2. Outline what other rating platforms that are critical for your business.  For example, if you are in the restaurant industry facebook, yelp, Travelocity would be important review sites. 

3. Respond to all ratings and reviews.  Not responding to your customer reviews is akin to someone coming into your business and expressing to you how pleased they were with your service and you as the owner walking away without saying thanks.  Rude, right!

How can I get more reviews?

Set an objective, first.  With a daily objective on the number of reviews to achieve.  Then establish action items.  These action items can include:

  • Getting a system that helps automate the rating requests from your customers.
  • Directing your customers which sites to review your business on.
  • Asking clients to rate their service either directly or indirectly with point of purchase displays.
  • Responding on a timely basis to reviews.

How do I respond to online reviews?

Most of the customers I talk to say that they mean to respond to reviews but never seem to get the time to do so.  My recommendation is to:

  • Set aside a specific time of the day that you respond to reviews.  Maybe its the start of the day with your morning cup of coffee or maybe it's at the end of the night just before you go to sleep.
  • Assign someone specifically to manage reviews - a family member or an outside company.

Now, for what do I write - how do I answer positive reviews and negative reviews?  25 years ago, I took a course on public relations from the Richard Ivey School of business.  This is the essence of what I learned.  Any issue that occurs in your business - positive or negative - is an opportunity to communicate to your company's customers and prospects your unique selling proposition and company values.

Here are some examples of responses to reviews:

1. Dealing with price issues:

  • Customer Review: While I enjoyed the food at the restaurant, I found it expensive relative to other breakfast places.
  • Potential Response: So glad you enjoyed the food.  We pride ourselves in making sure our food is served with fresh ingredients made daily by top red sealed chefs in an appealing atmosphere with great service.  We do offer daily specials that may be more in line with your budget as well as discount programs for seniors and students.  Thanks for your feedback.  We look forward to serving you again. 

2. Dealing with poor service or product issues by offering a sincere considerate apology with action:

  • Customer Review:

Talk about a trip back in time. This place is so dated and old-fashioned. Very disappointed. Basic service, very expensive per night, old furnishings - carpet is really stained, and paintwork needs redoing. Would not ever consider staying here again. Reception was very busy but only two staff on. You could choose valet parking at a ridiculous price, or park your car yourself but they don't provide a car park! Nice view overlooking the river but that's about it.

  • Response:

Luke P, General Manager at Stamford Plaza Brisbane, responded to this reviewResponded 27 July 2015

Dear donnoa1234,

Stamford Plaza Brisbane is continually working towards the upkeep of our rooms and public areas while being sure to maintain our heritage feel. Stamford Plaza is a traditional style hotel with many antiques and heritage features adding to the old world ambience. We appreciate this is not everyone’s taste however and it is with regret that we see we did not meet your expectations. 

Our parking fees are reviewed on a regular basis and while this price may seem high, it is in line, if not cheaper than most other 5 star hotels in Brisbane CBD. We do include parking in several of our packages so please feel free to inquiredirectly through the hotel or through our website for the best packages available to suit your needs. 
Thank you once again for your feedback.

Kind regards,

Luke Pearl
General Manager

3. Responding to positive reviews:

  • Customer Review:

Having stayed here several times before it was an easy choice to come back to celebrate my 60th birthday, staying overnight and taking the Chocolate High Tea with family. The views from the rooms are magnificent and the service is always friendly and efficient. There are plenty of dining choices on the premises. This is one of our favourite places to stay in Brisbane.

  • Response:

Dale J, Manager at Stamford Plaza Brisbane, responded to this reviewResponded 12 April 2018

Thank you for your feedback, I am very pleased you had enjoyed your recent stay with us. What great feedback, your comments are very important for us to improve on areas and service standards where applicable.

Once again, thank you for your feedback and we look forward to welcoming you back to Stamford Plaza Brisbane again soon.

3. Responding to a "brand hostage situations".  The people that threatened to provide a bad review of your business online if you don't give them what they want or former employees that attack our business online. Fight back and protect your brand's reputation.  Mention in the response what you have done to resolve the issue.  Then call out the person as to their threat.  For example, "Mr. Customer, as you mentioned you have followed through on your threat to place a bad review on my google page if you didn't get what you were asking for which was unreasonable."  Consumers recognize that there are unreasonable people in the world.  For one of my customers, we actually found a number of places that the consumer had given bad reviews too and mentioned that in the response: "we recognize that we are not the only business that has difficulty in serving your needs, as you have a number of bad reviews on local businesses in the area.  We suggest that in the future that you outline your expectations more clearly so that the business community can choose to serve you better."