When it comes to sales and customer service, having the right people on your team is essential. A crew of experienced professionals increases sales and builds consumer confidence.  However, with HubSpot reporting that “55 percent of customers trust companies less than they used to,” you’ll find that outside influence, like reviews, impact reputation and visibility more than ever before.

In a tough marketing environment, the conversation around your brand sways shoppers. Encouraging recommendations and responding to reviews builds your company’s credibility and ensures that your customer service remains top-notch, while also improving your website’s search engine ranking.

Indifference to reviews affects customer service

The power of peer-to-peer reviews is no secret. HubSpot says that a whopping “81 percent of people trust recommendations from family and friends over those from companies.” With traditional word-of-mouth marketing, the conversation started with close personal guidance. Now, today’s digital age and multiple networking platforms provide avenues for global outreach. BrightLocal research shows that “91 percent of 18-34-year-old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations,” meaning that the web of trust extends to strangers.

Unfortunately, in the race to convert, we often place less importance on the real value of reviews, which is damaging to customer service and ultimately, sales. According to Iron Paper,  “65 percent of customers are lost because of indifference, not because of mistakes.” By ignoring reviews, we’re failing to acknowledge a significant part of our team—our customers.

Customer recommendations affect search rankings

Google factors the conversations around your brand into its ranking algorithm. The Google support page says, “Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business.” Therefore, receiving and responding to reviews increases your online visibility whether directly or indirectly.

Search Engine Land states that reviews that contain keywords and specific locations may benefit your search ranking.

Wordstream reported on multiple studies that products with reviews and ratings increase your click-through-rate.

Facts like these document a need to both gather reviews and respond to criticisms.  Online communication provides proof of your excellent customer service and search engines use this data to rank the value of your business.

Responding to reviews boosts sales

Staying current on online reviews isn't always an easy feat. However, a study by the Local Search Association found that companies who consistently respond to reviews increase their conversion rate by 3.5 percent. This suggests that communicating with consumers improves customer service which results in a positive word-of-mouth response.

The “why” behind this isn’t a surprise, as meeting consumer expectations and responding to comments demonstrates an authenticity that customers crave. By embracing the review process and using it as a critical part of your strategy, you’ll increase trust, deepen relationships, and increase sales.

With BrightLocal reporting that “7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review if the business asks them to,” increasing your conversions doesn’t have to be painful. A review strategy that focuses on excellent customer service across all online and offline platforms builds credibility and unleashes the power of customer recommendations. After all, Moz claims that “Just one experience of receiving an owner response notification will set the rules of the game from here on out.”

To learn more about proactive review collection, visit the reviews section of our blog or schedule a demo to see how the ConsumerAffairs for Brands all-in-one platform can help.