It's important for businesses to know how they are doing, that's a given, and though there are many metrics from which to measure success, customer satisfaction is a big one that cannot be ignored.
In today's digital age, reviews on sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp are archived, and available instantaneously to anyone with an internet connection. In fact, when searching for a restaurant or hotel online, customer reviews on these popular sites are among the first to pop up in the search results.
This means many potential customers make up their mind about the quality of an establishment as soon as they see the highlighted rating appear high up in the queue, before they've seen any marketing materials or even visited the location's website.
Chalk it up to power in numbers.
TripAdvisor tallies up a staggering 390 million unique visits a month, with 435 million available reviews on nearly seven million restaurants, accommodations and attractions. Yelp, though not at quite the same level, still attracts an impressive user total, about 174 million figuring in monthly mobile and desktop visits, with about 115 million posted reviews.
The popularity of these sites speaks clearly to their importance.
But, what does it all mean for business owners? Here are some ways businesses can use reviews to their advantage to improve, evolve and grow.
Reviews drive sales
The numbers don't lie. Travelers want to have an idea what to expect when they show up for a meal or for a place to sleep on vacation. Guests who use ratings sites are more likely to stay at hotels, or dine at restaurants with a large number of reviews available online. According to this study, more than 80 percent of those surveyed said reviews helped them pick a hotel, and almost 65 percent said they used ratings to find better restaurants. Having an online presence where guests can get candid insight on what you have to offer is vital.
More reviews boost ratings
Studies show ratings often go up over time as more reviews roll in. This is because the first guests to write reviews tend to give lower scores when there is nothing to compare to. As a location gets more reviews, this typically evens out and the average score goes up as more information is provided and expectations are set. Extreme feedback is also nullified as the total number of reviews increases.
Take comments to heart
Some reviewers are inevitably going to be nit-picky and critical. This can actually be a good thing, especially early on. Though their complaints might seem petty or even ridiculous, they might be touching on something you have overlooked in terms of guest experience. Small improvements can make a big difference in overall satisfaction, and it isn't easy to catch everything without feedback. Similarly, bask in the positive reviews of the satisfied customers. Note what small touches they appreciated and what they felt was important to include as information in their review.
Rating sites have proven their relevance and are not going anywhere.
It's better to utilize them to attract customers and get your name out there than to ignore them, which will simply leave you unseen and likely underappreciated by potential clientele.