The Local Customer Review Survey of 2020 has a wealth of information. We’ve gleaned 10 things for you to keep in mind.
For the past decade, the Local Customer Review Survey has sought to illuminate the ways in which customers use online reviews to choose which businesses to patronize. While any information gleaned from 2020, this most unusual of years, will have to come with an asterisk, it’s still important to look at which trends continued, and which are outliers. If nothing else, 2020 showed an increased reliance on the internet to shop, which is a trend that will only continue.
- More customers are searching online for businesses, but not many more
93% of all respondents searched online for a local business, with 34% searching every day. Unsurprisingly, these numbers are up from previous years, but not overwhelmingly so. People who searched for businesses every day were 33% in 2019 and 27% in 2018, so it’s a safe bet that this is part of a trend.
- More customers are reading online reviews
Consumers reading online reviews has gone up in the decade since the Local Customer Review Survey has started. This year continued the trend, up from 81% last year to 87% this year. Online reviews continue to be an important part of any business.
- Customers are using mobile devices to read reviews
This is another continuation of an overall trend away from desktops as the primary online shopping device. The numbers this year might be slightly juiced from users being away from work desktops, but the trend, especially in the automotive industry, was already heading to mobile devices.
- COVID is unsurprisingly a huge concern
While COVID is hopefully something we won’t have to live with too much longer, it will still be a factor well into 2021. 17% of respondents have said they have written negative reviews for businesses specifically for perceived lapses in COVID-related safety measures. 67% said they would outright refuse to go to a business whose reviews stated they were not taking proper COVID precautions. On the flip side, 22% of customers have specifically written presumably positive reviews to help local businesses.
- Online reviews continue to be a major factor in the decision-making process
94% of respondents said positive reviews were more likely to get them to patronize a business, 92% said negative reviews make them less likely (and raising a few questions about that 2% in the middle), and 79% said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. All of these are up from the previous year, but not so much so that the pandemic appears to be the sole cause.
- This applies to directly to car dealerships
The automotive industry is only behind restaurants, hotels, and the medical industry in terms of how important online reviews are for customers. We have a Wednesday Workshop on the subject of getting more reviews for precisely this reason.
- Star rating is the single most important part of any review
If a user is only glancing at reviews, they might not read past the star rating. That’s partially what it’s there for, providing an at-a-glance impression though forgoing any nuance. The most important aspect of any review is the star rating, and 48% of users said they wouldn’t use a business with fewer than 4 stars.
- Recent reviews are more valuable
While a solid bank of reviews helps establish your business as legitimate, a whopping 73% of customers only pay attention to reviews written in the past month. This means that getting reviews needs to be a constant process.
- More people are reviewing local businesses
This year, the amount of customers leaving reviews took a big leap, likely because of the realities of the pandemic. 72% of respondents have written a review of a local business, which is 8% higher than the previous year. Therefore, this isn’t a stat to rely on, but it should keep increasing gradually.
- Google My Business is the most used
Here’s a weird factoid: respondents rated Better Business Bureau as most trusted, but GMB as the most used. I suspect the discrepancy is due to GMB being easier to find, coming naturally with any Google search that turns up a business. We have blogs and Wednesday Workshops about GMB, so look for those for more information on how to utilize this valuable and free resource.
The Local Customer Review Survey for 2020 should be taken in context, but for the most part, it’s showing an acceleration of trends already in place.