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Customers May Not Like Your Business – Online Reviews

How do potential customers view your business online?

As a business owner or manager, you should be able to answer this question quickly and confidently…and hopefully the answer is “very positively”.  You need to be completely sure of your answer.  If not, you may need more space for that “white elephant” in the room aka “online reviews”.

Today’s customers do not behave like they did just a few years ago, for you to be successful you need to understand behavioral changes. Questions to consider:online reviews elephant image

  • How are MY customer’s behaviors changing in today’s digitally powered world?
  • What effect does new media like reviews and social have on my business?
  • Where do my customers look for my business or service?
  • How much research goes into their decision to purchase?
  • When I search for my business online, what shows up?
  • What does my online review profile look like?

These types of questions have a direct effect on every business operating today, whether you are a roofer, a demolition contractor, or a home service provider.

Google (& others) recognized these shifting behaviors and decided to uncover how buying behaviors have changed over the last few years.  So Google being Google, decided on a large-scale study to find the answers.  The study, called “The Zero Moment of Truth Macro Study (ZMOT)” was in partnership with Shopper Sciences.  The methodology consisted of:

  • A quantitative review of decision making behavior across shopping, services, and voting
  • Online surveys with interactive game-like construct
  • Fielded in 2011 in the US
  • Connect as close to purchase decision as possible
  • N = 5,000 shoppers

The result, Google identified today’s behaviors have changed considerably.  Many potential customers now use many online sources in their decision making process, this number doubled from 5.2 to 10.4.  Searching online is at the same level or eclipsing friends and family as a source in the purchase process, which is a first.  A contributing cause is probably the easy access to online reviews.  Online reviews depict the satisfaction of customers the same way a family or friends once did in past years.

Most surprising, Google identified a fourth mental model of marketing.  The traditional mental model consisted of a 3-step process:2011_ZMOT_Macro_Study---3-step-process-700x525


Today, tech-savvy customers now do most of their research on a business or service before they actually go into the store or pick up the phone for a home service provider. Google calls this “The Zero Moment of Truth” (ZMOT) or a new 4-step mental model.  Customers now use any and all mobile devices to do their research.


The key takeaways for the home service provider from the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) study are:

  • 50% of shoppers searched online with a search engine
  • 38% compared products/service online
  • 36% sought information from the business website

And from an additional study from Dimensional Research via Marketing Land:

  • 90% of customers read online reviews, while 86% mentioned buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews
  • Facebook was the leading website for positive reviews
  • Other popular review websites (e.g. Yelp, Google +) were the most common place for negative reviews

The numbers above are probably higher today than in 2011 when the ZMOT study was conducted.  Recent research shows a considerable increase in mobile usage from just a couple of years ago.

Business owners competing today need a thorough understanding of their customers research behaviors. Initial steps can be taken to quantify your customer’s behaviors and improve your potential customers “moment of truth”, such as:

  • Ask every potential customer how they found you
  • Ask them how many other businesses they considered in their research
  • Create a inexpensive customer follow up survey (such as  Survey Monkey or others)
  • Develop a review acquisition strategy AND monitor your online reputation
  • Read and respond to all reviews, both positive and negative
  • Leverage positive reviews across all social platforms

Over time, if you employ some of the tactics above, you will become better equipped to answer “how do potential customers view your business online?”, and hopefully the answer will be positive.

Further Reading:

The Zero Moment of Truth Macro Study – https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/research-studies/the-zero-moment-of-truth-macro-study.html

Survey: 90% Of Customers Say Buying Decisions Are Influenced By Online Reviews – Marketing Land – http://marketingland.com/survey-customers-more-frustrated-by-how-long-it-takes-to-resolve-a-customer-service-issue-than-the-resolution-38756

The impact of customer service on customer lifetime value – https://www.zendesk.com/resources/customer-service-and-lifetime-customer-value

Review Generation – Are Bad Reviews Hurting Your Business? – https://hometownlocal.com/review-generation-are-bad-reviews-hurting-your-business/