A recent consumer review study found that among 2800 consumers in the U.S., Canda, and the United Kingdom:

  • 85% had read online reviews of local businesses
  • 79% trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 67% read 6 reviews or less before making a purchasing decision

What’s particularly fascinating about the networks that host these trusted online reviews, such as Google, Yelp! and Angie’s List, is that customers, not just organizations, can initiate the chatter.

That means it doesn’t matter if your organization is “into” social media or not. Your customers can – and most likely will – get online and talk about you with or without your permission. Then Google will do you the favor (or disservice) of bringing those online reviews up above the scroll line any time someone searches for your organization’s name.

The question then becomes: will online reviews serve as a thorn in the side of your organization’s reputation or a tool you choose to use as a way to build positive interaction with your customer base?