Why Online Reviews of Your Firm Matter
Consumers no longer turn to information provided by manufacturers, or even businesses themselves, when it comes to searching for the perfect gift, replacement appliance, new car or local accountant, according to the Harvard Business Review. Whether shopping for products or services, clients are turning to each other for help.
As a large corporation or local small business, client feedback is something you can’t afford to ignore. Make the most of your client reviews – they matter to your bottom line.
Why Reviews Matter to Clients
Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rose of the Harvard Business Review say clients now have access to what’s known as absolute value – “a rich, specific sense of what it’s like to own or use the goods they’re considering.” It’s not marketing speak.
In a study by Moz, an SEO software building company, 67 percent of respondents said online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. Just over 54 percent of them said online reviews are fairly, very or are absolutely an important part of their decision-making process. Why? Because nearly 90 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, according to a survey by BrightLocal, an SEO data-driven company. That’s right – the majority of consumers are viewing these reviews by strangers just as they would a recommendation from a friend.
Today’s client is looking for information from all sources, especially from someone who has owned your product, visited your restaurant or benefited from your consulting services. Untrusting of perfectly worded marketing campaigns, clients want their information straight from an average Joe’s mouth (or keyboard).
Why Reviews (Should) Matter to You
As an accounting firm, online reviews should matter to you strictly because they matter to your client market. If the vast majority of consumers see online reviews as personal recommendations, ignoring them is a disservice to your business and your current and prospective clients. Additionally, online reviews – positive or negative – can boost your local SEO rankings, which can have positive long-term effects.
How to Make User Reviews Work for You
Start by offering a client review portal on your firm’s website. Make leaving feedback easy to do on any of your online platforms, whether via social media or in response to direct mail marketing newsletters.
Respond to every complaint or comment in a timely matter. Doing so shows clients that you value their opinions and are willing to make improvements based on their feedback. While you may not make huge changes based on one or two complaints, over time you’ll be able to spot patterns and recognize what needs changing.
When searching for a local accountant, many people turn to crowd-sourcing sites, such as Yelp or Intuit’s Find-a-ProAdvisor,® for reviews. Search for yourself and your firm on both sites. What do you find? If the answer is nothing, do yourself a favor and start by setting up profiles. Look into other review sites as well, such Angie’s List, Google Local, TrustLink and Trustpilot.
Yelp strives to connect clients with smaller businesses that don’t have the big budgets that large corporations do. Capitalize on this by encouraging new clients to leave a review, and even consider reaching out to old clients to do the same. Find-a-ProAdvisor is a live directory of certified experts, offering help in accounting, bookkeeping, tax preparation and financial planning. It also helps accountants expand their expertise and grow their business.
Watch and encourage reviews. Over time, you’ll definitely see the results.