The option to provide, read, or respond to reviews is at our fingertips everyday. We make the decision to form opinions based on our online findings. It has become our first instinct when getting to know a company.

Take note of the influence that reviews have on a brand. Whether making a first impression or forming a relationship with a customer, you’ll want to make sure you are aware of the possible, or inevitable, impacts below.

Digital world and immediate decisions

Sites and apps made for, or that include, customer reviews such as eBay, Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, and Amazon have a direct influence on our daily purchasing behavior. Upon hearing about a new company, restaurant, gym, etc., our first instinct is to look it up. We read, compare, and form immediate opinions; through this, we make our choices. Does the restaurant sell good food and provide great service to guests? Does the gym have hidden fees and a tough cancellation policy? Should I work here; how is the culture and work environment? The reviews say it all.

Matching reviews to brand reputation on social media

Not only do customer’s check out reviews, they also cross-reference these reviews with your brands reputation. Social media for example can show the relationships between customers and the company, how involved or influential a company is online, and a brands personality. Prospects will choose one company over another due to their social media status: how does the company look? Are they better than ‘X’? Do they seem fun, social, or friendly? But remember, no matter how great your social platform looks or feels, if the comments are flooded with negative reviews and behavior, then you’re up for a fight against opinions and judgments.

Online forever

Unfortunately, hardly anything just disappears from the Internet. If a customer wants to or is looking for a negative review about a certain company, he or she will dig up this information until satisfied. Take Amazon for example; when you are thinking of purchasing an article of clothing, what do you do first? Scroll down to the review section (no reviews? See ya!) and change the filter to ‘less than 2 stars.’ Now you read about what others have to say. Of course the customer is free to form a different opinion or still purchase the product with little to no stars, however he or she is much less likely to do so. The point here: don’t skim by. Make an effort to receive quality reviews, whether on your website or on a product, because reviews, good or bad, will not go away.

Crisis Management

This is a big deal. How you handle these online reviews is an entirely new ball game. When a customer, or prospect, comments to review your company, you should acknowledge the comment, and then reply. Not only does the amount of time it takes a company to respond to a review matter, but so does the language with which you respond as well. Companies with the best crisis management, or the way they choose to handle a bad situation or emergency, are viewed as personable, friendly, and caring. Don’t we all want this for the companies we work for or buy from? We know that the Internet is full of answers, so reviews and bad comments are never necessarily a secret or hidden. This directly affects your profitability, integrity, and reputation. Have a plan instilled for action so that your company is prepared to handle this kind of situation; how will you respond?

Control of first impression

So, now you are aware of how influential reviews can be. Your job is to create the best first impression possible. What do you want your customers to see, think, and do upon finding your company? You are in control of that. A customer’s first impression of your company will immediately affect their purchasing decision and their willingness to get involved with or form a relationship with your brand. People usually “meet” you online first; be sure you give a great introduction!

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