How Your Potential Customer Base Uses Online Reviews

Insights from a recent consumer survey show how you should be using online reviews to your advantage

How Your Potential Customer Base Uses Online Reviews

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Most business owners are at least aware of the increasing importance of getting online reviews, but the 2017 BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey confirms that reviews are here to stay. What are the latest stats, and what do they mean for your business? Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:

1. More people are looking at reviews than ever before.

If you thought reviews were a passing fad, think again — 97 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2017, which means that most of your potential customers are looking at your reviews. What are they seeing? If you lack reviews and your competitors have several, you’re at a disadvantage from the start.

Customers want to find the best company for the job quickly, especially in a plumbing emergency, and they’re less willing to put in the time researching and visiting websites. Your reviews may be the only thing that the people searching for your services see, so if reviews are missing altogether or you only have one or two, you’re probably not going to get the call. 

2. Reviews equal trust and the number of reviews and their star-rating matters.

You may think customers just find it “nice” to see what others are saying about their experiences with your company, but it’s more than that — 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and positive reviews make 73 percent of consumers trust a local business more.

In addition, 49 percent of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business, and consumers read an average of seven to 10 current (in the range of one to three months) reviews before trusting a business. With only one or two reviews, searchers have less assurance as to what their experience will be like. The more positive reviews you have, the more confidence you give potential customers. 

If you lack four- and five-star reviews or you don’t have any reviews at all, good or bad, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity to build trust with those searching for your services. Trust matters, period, but especially so with service businesses. People want to know that the companies they’re inviting into their homes are ethical, professional, established, and experienced, and your reviews can help convince them of that, or convince them to look for someone else.

3. Yelp, Facebook, Google and BBB are the most trusted review sites.

Are you killing it on Google? That’s great, but you also need to try to get reviews on the other platforms that your potential customers frequent and trust. Yelp and Facebook are actually the two most-trusted sites, followed closely by Google and the Better Business Bureau. Try to get reviews on all four so that no matter where your customers are looking, they’ll find plenty of glowing reviews that help you win their trust. 

How can you encourage that variety? Ask your customers which sites they spend the most time on. What you’ll naturally find is that some are frequent Yelpers, some have Gmail accounts, some regularly use the BBB to find and review businesses, and others are on Facebook at least once a day. Figure out where they’re most comfortable leaving reviews, and ask them to share their experience on that platform.

4. You need recent reviews.

According to the BrightLocal survey, 77 percent of consumers think that reviews older than three months aren’t relevant, and 18 percent of consumers only care about reviews submitted within the last two weeks. What does that mean for you? You need to be consistently getting reviews. Don’t just rack up 10 in a couple of months and stop there. Keep asking for more. Fresh reviews matter to your potential customers, as well as to Google, so they should matter to you.

What’s the best way to keep reviews coming in regularly? Consistently provide excellent service, consistently ask for reviews while the service is top of mind, communicate to customers just how important reviews are for your business and your community, and make it as easy as possible for customers to follow through. 

According to the survey, 68 percent of consumers say they’ll leave a review when asked, so that’s your first step. But there are also great (and affordable) tools out there like the Spark Review Engine, which streamline the review process, provide techs with a script, and help you consistently get the five-star reviews you deserve. If you’d like to know more about this effective, easy, and affordable review generation tool, visit

Put Your Reviews to Use

You know by now that you need more reviews, but don’t just get more — put them to use. Read and respond to each negative and positive review, and use the feedback your customers share to make your business better.

Regularly share your reviews with your team, recognize your employees’ strengths, and let them know what your customers are saying. We all want to know when we’re knocking it out of the park and where we could improve, so make sure to recognize your employees’ wins, talk about what needs work, and encourage your team to keep up the good work. Not only will it help to improve your business and your team’s morale, but it’ll also make it easier for you to keep those four- and five-star reviews coming in. That means more eyes on your business and more calls coming to you instead of a competitor.

About the Authors: Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the co-founders of Spark Marketer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based digital marketing company that works primarily with service businesses. They’re also the co-hosts of the "Blue Collar Proud (BCP) Show," a podcast that’s all about having and living the blue collar dream, and the co-authors of the book, Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love. Both regularly speak at service industry trade shows and conferences across the nation. Visit or


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