Customers are increasingly turning to online platforms to know more about a business. They want to hear from others like them before they make any purchasing decision. Google customer reviews are their primary source for this information.
Independent businesses need to know what people are looking for in Google customer reviews. They need to understand customer expectations so that they can better manage their online reputation. To begin with, let’s understand why customers are turning to online reviews:
It saves them time: They don’t have to read the company website, brochures, advertising material, or social media. They can easily find out what they’re looking for from the reviews as other customers would get straight to the point.
Reviews reveal the true picture: What a business says it’s all about and what it really is could be two different things. By going through Google customer reviews, people can know what the business is in real life.
They have credibility: Customers know that those who post on Google Reviews, by and large, are real people. They believe that the reviewers have no financial motive to either support or criticise a business. That makes the reviews a credible source of information.
They bring to light all the features: Sometimes, what a customer wants in a business won’t be the feature that the business would normally highlight. Reviews are where people can get information about all the features of a product or a service.
They can understand the value proposition: Reviews are where people talk about their experience against the price they paid. This will reveal the true value of the product or service when compared to its competition.
Now we know why customers turn to platforms like Google customer reviews, let’s understand what they’re looking for. It’d be helpful to analyse it across categories as expectations vary from one sector to another.
If you sell a product online, customers would first search reviews to find out about the quality of the product:
Is it as good as it was shown on the website?
Does it have all the features?
Is the colour the same as the one in the images?
Is it of the right size?
Does it work as promised?
The second aspect would be delivery:
Was the product delivered on time?
Were there additional shipping fees that people were unaware of?
What was the condition of the packaging?
Did the company share the information on when they could expect the product?
How was the customer support if they had to interact with them?
The final issue would be around returns:
If the customer wanted to cancel the order, did they refund the amount?
These are instances where a customer’s perception of a business would depend on the setting in which it’s served.
Establishments in this category include bars, massage parlours, veterinary clinics, laundrettes, dry cleaners, salons, spas, cinemas, etc. In these cases, customers would be looking for the following in Google customer reviews.
Are the listing hours up to date?
Was it easy to find the place?
Does the business get many reviews (e.g. is it popular)?
Was it located exactly where they said it would be?
Was there enough parking space?
Was the place hygienic?
Did they have to wait for long before being served?
Was the staff good at their job?
Did they listen to the customers?
How was the ambience?
Were there too many people?
Is it right for couples or families?
Was it too loud?
Is it worth the price?
Finally, customers will be looking to see how the business manages their online reviews and presence. Here’s just some of the things they’ll be looking to see:
Does the business respond to reviews?
Is the listing information updated if someone points out an error?
Do the replies come from the heart, or are they copy-pasted?
If there’s a problem, does the owner reply promptly?
Does the business always put the customer first?
Is the business fair, friendly, and helpful?
Is the business understanding when a customer complains?
Does the business try to fix customer complaints?
Does the business get angry or defensive when criticised?
When you know what customers are looking for in Google customer reviews, it gives you direction on what to improve. It'll give you a wealth of data that you can use to acquire and retain customers while improving your ratings.
Based on the best practices of several high-performing businesses, here are some proven suggestions on how to get more reviews on Google.
Google reviews have the power to make or break a business — and here's everything you need to know about them as a small business.