Why are reviews so important?
86% of people read reviews for local businesses, including 95% of people aged 18-34. Reviews are a fundamental part of people’s shopping behaviour and consumers now view online reviews almost every time they search online. Google, for example, shows its own reviews alongside ratings from other review sites.
This is important as consumers like to read reviews from a variety of websites, especially when making larger investments. With a funeral being one of the biggest financial considerations made by a family, reviews will play a key part in their decision making.
Google shows ‘star ratings’ next to many of its search results. These ratings are a quick and easy way to establish how trustworthy a business is and are often one of the first things someone will see when searching for businesses online.
People are now trusting online reviews more than ever
91% of people surveyed said they trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That’s up almost 10% from 2016 and means people are very close to seeing online reviews and personal recommendations as equally important.
While the funeral profession has traditionally relied on word of mouth, online opinions are beginning to matter more than ever. In fact, 57% of people won’t use a business that falls below a four star rating. About 40% of people will only look at reviews made within the last two weeks and 77% of people will discount reviews more than three months old.
Taking those facts into account, you need to be receiving reviews and receiving them regularly to ensure you’re reaching the largest audience.
Why negative reviews are important too
No one wants to read a negative review of their business or service, but they are a fact of life. No person or business is infallible. Negative reviews can actually provide a positive outcome for your business. Bad reviews will help you build trust as well as help identify where things need improvement within your business.
How do you handle negative reviews?
At the most basic level, negative reviews can show you areas where your business can improve. Was a family dissatisfied with the handling of a particular element of their loved one’s funeral service? Was a product you provided not what they expected? You can take these comments and see if your communications can be improved or if your staff need further training in a particular area.
Negative reviews can even be a source of confidence for some customers, with 85% of people actively seeking out negative reviews. A perfect review score can sometimes be viewed as ‘too good to be true’.
You can use a negative review as an opportunity to have a discussion with dissatisfied families. Perhaps there is a misunderstanding that can be cleared up through conversation with them. If there’s a legitimate concern, then discussing it with them will make them feel heard, and it may even lead to them altering their review.
How does responding to negative reviews help your business?
By entering into a dialogue with a dissatisfied client or family, you can not only discover what can be done to resolve the situation. But, you can also demonstrate to potential customers that you care about providing the best possible service.
An honest dialogue based around legitimate criticism builds trust in both past clients and potential new ones too. If you are seen to be addressing whatever issues might have led to a negative review, then future customers can see that you take customer care seriously and will be reassured.
In fact, the number of people who avoid businesses with negative reviews has dropped from 68% in 2016 to 40% in 2018. With consumers far more interested in how people respond to negative reviews, than with the reviews themselves.
Why do my responses to any reviews matter?
Responding to negative reviews is vital because it gives you the opportunity to solve issues, develop as a business and demonstrate your ability to take on board constructive criticism. Beyond that, responding to any review, good or bad, is an indicator that a lot of consumers look out for now.
89% of customers read businesses responses to reviews. That means 9/10 potential customers are looking to see how businesses engage with the people who use their services. If you take the time to reply to reviews, both positive and negative, you are taking advantage of easy opportunities to present yourself in your own words to any potential clients that might be browsing.
What’s the bottom line on reviews?
Online reviews are growing in importance year on year. With each successive generation living more of their lives online, this trend is almost certain to continue. Customer’s have shown that they are more likely to trust businesses with online reviews and that they will lean towards companies with positive online reviews attached to them.
However, even a negative review next to your company’s name can be a positive thing. By engaging appropriately any negative reviews, taking on board feedback and responding with compassion and understanding, you can turn a negative online review into an opportunity to positively represent your business online.
As the UK’s definitive online funeral resource, Funeral Guide has been offering bereaved families a free to use listing of independent, verified reviews of funeral directors for over six years now. Find out more about Funeral Guide’s range of innovative services for Funeral Directors.
Local Consumer Review Survey | Online Reviews Statistics & Trends by Bright Local
How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews by Bright Local
The Growing Power of Reviews by Power Reviews