Why the customer review is so important for your small business

Ashleigh Wainstein, director at Social Places. Picture: Supplied
Ashleigh Wainstein, director at Social Places. Picture: Supplied

Ever wanted to leave an online review on a business you recently used but hesitated? Well, this survey reveals just how valuable your opinion is.

The annual online review survey results, released on Thursday by marketing technology firm Social Places, uncovered that 87% of consumers trust online reviews as much as word of mouth or personal recommendations.

Although 82% of the respondents were likely to engage with local businesses if they had positive reviews, 30% indicated that negative reviews would steer them away from using that company.

This came from data collected from 3 338 respondents from economically representative parts of South Africa, between November 2019 and January 10, 2020.

The report also highlighted the importance of local businesses engaging effectively with the growing number of consumers who leave online reviews on multiple social media platforms.

Ashleigh Wainstein, Social Places director, said that even though similar surveys existed internationally, they wanted a view of where things stood in South Africa.

“The findings show that online reviews are growing exponentially but, more importantly, that consumers expect a more personal interaction from brands online. It is critical, therefore, that they refine their strategies and respond appropriately to online reviews which can seriously influence their business,” she said.

The survey indicated that about 46% of people leave a review if asked by the business.

Seventy-four percent of negative reviewers expected a response within 24 hours – and 21% of those within four hours.

“So companies have to be aware of and prepared for this – people want to know they’ve been heard,” Wainstein said.

“Responses don’t have to be as prompt if the review is positive, but 64% still said they would expect a response to their positive review within a 24-hour period,” the report stated.

Some of the interesting finds were that:

  • 92% of consumers will read 5+ reviews before considering a business to be trustworthy;
  • 93% of consumers are unlikely to choose a business with less than three stars, and over 49% of consumers won’t choose a business with less than four stars;
  • 93% of consumers expect a response to their negative review;
  • 78% of consumers prefer to make a booking online vs on a telephone; and
  • 93% of consumers have left a review, or plan to do so in future.

So, if you are a small business owner, it would be better not to leave those social media notifications unattended.

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