The Influence of Online Reviews

With 90% of consumers reading online reviews before visiting a business, and 84% of people trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, perceptions are forming earlier in the customer journey than ever before.

Reviews have become part of the fabric of everyday life, whether it be assessing your Uber driver’s performance through to the suitability of a recent Airbnb host.

For customers, if they know what to expect, they can have confidence in their decision and know their (increasingly important) time and money will not go to waste.

Visible at every turn

Google searches will now routinely uncover customer ratings and reviews for your club, via various platforms, and this can often result in prospective customers consuming this information before actually clicking through to your website. That means a first impression may well be determined by other customers.

While this lack of control can be daunting, reviews also represent a vital source of information and intelligence of what your customers are thinking and experiencing. This not only allows you to address immediate concerns, but feed them into performance indicators, and they can help to inform future strategic decisions.

Broaden your insights

Depending on the review platform, you may have the opportunity to engage with the reviewer and ask for more feedback about their experience, which is important for two reasons:

  1. To distinguish the validity of their initial review and, if valid
  2. To provide more insights into the particular aspects of their experience

This can apply for both positive or negative reviews and, in the case of the latter, the willingness to engage on the club’s part demonstrates proactivity and a commitment to improving the customer experience. More than that, it represents an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage over other clubs, who typically may find it difficult to monitor and respond to reviews – especially during busy periods.

Although the impact to the bottom line may not be significant, establishing a voice for your club in this space, as with social media, can boost the credibility and perception of your brand.

Keep an eye on the competition

Intrigued to know how your competitors are faring? Or looking at ways you can improve your customer experience?

Taking the time to examine reviews of your competitors not only offers a very recent insight into how they are faring, but can provide invaluable intelligence to how they are developing their product or service.

Analysis can uncover clues to which aspects of the customer experience your competitors excel in. So, where instances of this exist, ensure there is a mechanism to capture this intelligence and look at ways to make the necessary changes and enhancements to the customer journey at your club – with the intent to go beyond the level of your competitors. You may well find online reviews of your competitors an unlikely or untapped source for developing a meaningful competitive advantage.

Harnessing the power of online reviews – takeaways

– Engage with online reviewers by responding to both positive and negative comments
– Capture insights from online reviews and incorporate these into performance indicators for your club
– Examine competitor reviews to gain intelligence on the customer experience they offer and develop ways to exceed it

For help and advice on the role of online reviews in future strategic decisions, connect with Bennett DeLozier, Manager at GGA.