You probably already know that online reviews impact consumer trust. In fact, you’ve probably already experienced this in your own life: after all, when was the last time you were enticed to try a new brand by a string of 1-star ratings? What might surprise you, however, is just how powerfully reviews — and the responses to them — can influence consumer behavior.
That’s the topic we’ll be exploring in this week’s post, taking a look at some recent research on consumer trust and how it can translate to profits — or losses — for your business. We’ll also discuss how reviews (and responses) affect consumer perceptions, along with some additional benefits of responding to reviews. If you’re interested in staying up to date with the latest news and trends in review response and reputation management, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow our blog, where we’ll be back next week to discuss chatbots and other methods of asking for reviews.
Do Consumers Spend More on Brands They Trust?
There’s a powerful connection between online reviews and consumer trust. There’s an equally powerful connection between consumer trust and the financial health of your business. Therefore, it’s important to understand how online reviews can positively or negatively impact consumers’ opinions about brands — and even more significantly, how you should manage your responses to those reviews in order to build trust in your brand to the greatest extent possible. But before we get to the do’s and don’ts of writing responses and engaging with reviewers, let’s start by taking a look at some statistics that illuminate the relationship between consumer trust, consumer spending, and later, online reviews.
There’s a profusion of data proving that consumers spend more on brands they trust. For example, according to a 2021 report from Deloitte Digital, which describes trust as an “influential pricing lever,” more than half of customers (62%) “buy almost exclusively from trusted brands” — and looking ahead to the future, “88% of customers who highly trust a brand have bought from the brand again.” The same report pointed out that “building trust increases customers’ willingness to pay,” while conversely, “When brands do not build trust, we see the opposite effect: low levels of trust lead to significant losses in perceived value.”
Deloitte is far from the only source to point out these connections. According to PR Newswire reporting on findings from Salsify Consumer Research in 2021, “[A] study of more than 1,800 consumers found that nearly 90% of consumers are willing to pay more for something when it comes from a brand they trust.”
More recently, FastCompany — with the warning, “Brands, take note: Your customers aren’t afraid to dump you if they lose your trust” — covered a survey by Salesforce, which found that among approximately 13,000 consumers, “88%… believe trust is more important in times of change, [while] 74% say communicating transparently is more important now than before the pandemic.”
And according to a survey from creative communications agency CTP, which had approximately 1,200 participants, “Being trustworthy and reliable were ranked the most important traits in the survey with 76% of those polled listing those qualities as very important.” As CTP stated, customers “will be loyal and spend more on brands that they trust, like and with whom they feel a connection.”
MIT Sloan Management Review advocates not only earning trust, but actually going a step further to earn shoppers’ admiration. According to MIT, “When customers admire a brand, they are far more likely to be loyal to it. They demonstrate this not just by buying the brand repeatedly over time but by paying a price premium to acquire it.”
Does Responding to Reviews Really Make Consumers Trust Your Brand More?
We’ve established that increased trust equals increased spending. The next question is: Does replying to reviews increase trust?
According to the 2022 edition of BrightLocal’s annual Local Consumer Review Survey, which more than 1,100 individuals participated in, “49% trust consumer reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family,” while “28% trust consumer reviews as much as professionally-written articles by topic experts.” Perhaps more significantly for business owners, 55% of the survey respondents ranked “the business owner [responding] to the review” among the “top three review factors that make [them] feel positively about a local business.” The other two factors, for context, were that “the written review describes a positive experience” (75%), and that “the review has a high star rating” (58%).
This data suggests that you can improve customers’ overall attitudes and level of trust toward your business just by taking the time to respond to their comments — or, for a more efficient solution, partnering with our team of response scribes, who provide your business with custom responses 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
What Are Some Other Potential Benefits of Replying to Reviews?
There are numerous advantages to implementing a robust review reply strategy. Not only does replying to reviews help your business continuously earn shoppers’ trust — it can also have additional benefits for your brand. Here are three ways that responding to reviews can help your brand or franchise grow.
- Responding to reviews helps you improve your local ranking on Google, a topic we previously wrote about.
- Your responses to positive reviews are opportunities to highlight or market key features of your business — for example, “It was our pleasure to provide you with outstanding customer service!” or, “We’re so thrilled to hear that you’re enjoying our [convenient location / incredible amenities / concierge service, etc.]!”
- Your responses to negative reviews are opportunities to repair damaged customer relationships and avoid losing customers to your competitors. Learn more about our tips and strategies for dealing with bad ratings, including advice for handling particularly sensitive reviews, such as allegations of fraud or safety issues.
To learn more about why replying to reviews matters for your business, we suggest exploring our blog and checking out topics like the power of personalization or why franchises need to be monitoring online reviews.
Tips for Writing Better Responses to Customer Reviews
Positive reviews encourage consumers to trust (and shop at) your business. However, other than providing an excellent product or service, there’s no way to ensure that you’ll receive positive reviews. What you can ensure is that your business provides professional, courteous, and customized responses to all of the reviews it receives — including duplicate reviews, old reviews, and yes, even accidental reviews. You should also consider using a review generation service to help you obtain authentic feedback and ratings from your customers.
When it comes to best practices for replying to feedback from your customers, here are a few resources from our blog to help you and your team get started:
- 3 Review Response Trends Your Agency Needs to Know About
- How 3 of the World’s Top Brands Respond to Online Reviews
- Should You Censor Bad Reviews?
Reviews are constantly being shared by millions of users via platforms like Yelp, Facebook, Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), and the Better Business Bureau (BBB). There were more than 244 million reviews on Yelp by the end of 2021, and Google’s fraud team reports blocking approximately 55 million fake reviews during 2020 alone — numbers that are likely to continue growing as trends like online shopping, the use of mobile devices, and the use of social media platforms continue to rise. Your business can leverage these trends and build better customer relationships simply by responding to reviews, which is an effective and cost-efficient way to increase consumer trust and improve your brand’s reputation (and bottom line).
Book a Demo of Our Review Response Service for Agencies, Franchises, and Brands
Consumers don’t shop from brands they don’t trust — and they don’t trust brands that don’t have good reviews. While you can’t control what your customers are saying about your business, you can take steps to manage your reputation effectively. Shout About Us provides the full suite of reputation management solutions for digital agencies, franchises, and brands, including review generation, review removal, and review reply services — all accessible through a convenient, secure, centralized dashboard and backed by 24-hour customer support.
Designed for digital agencies, franchises, and multi-location brands, Shout About Us offers seamless solutions to address all of your team’s reputation management challenges. Contact us online to learn more, or schedule a demo today.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than seven years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.