Do you own a B2C business? Do you encourage your customers to provide reviews on their business experience? A 2013 survey by Dimensional Research of over 1,000 respondents revealed the reality that 90% of consumers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. Scott and I rely on reviews to assist us in making buying decisions, but never was it more apparent than on our recent road trip from Maine to Florida.
Typically, we are planners for a trip, but for this trip we knew the day we planned to leave Maine and the day we needed to arrive in Florida, but the rest of the journey had no map or schedule. We were well equipped with smartphones, IPad and laptops to assist us on our journey. Good reviews and user-friendly app's were key in our decision making process.
DAY 1 - Even before arriving in Maine, we ran into a challenge at La Guardia when we were informed that our 9:00PM flight to Portland was cancelled. Delta was generous and provided us a room at the Marriott. We quickly realized this was a perfect opportunity to pop over to the Upper East Side and enjoy a nice dinner in the City. We called 2 friends who travel to NYC often to get their recommendations. But those referrals were not enough; as they are naming the restaurants to Scott, I am on my phone checking Open Table for a reservation and Yelp for more reviews. As it turns out, we did not choose from our friend's recommendations, but selected from a review on Yelp that mentioned this restaurant had a positive write up in the New York Times. We jumped on the subway and headed to The Simone, hoping to get a table because they are not on Open Table and she doesn't answer the phone during dining hours. You may have noticed that I have not provided a link to The Simone; that is because she does not have a website. BUT if you type it into Google, below the Zagat ad the top hits are reviews on NYTimes.com, Yelp, Urban Spoon and Trip Advisor. A new restaurant in NYC, with no website or advertising and the table next to us had waited 3 1/2 weeks to get a reservation! After dinner we contacted Uber for our ride back to the hotel, while paying the tab on the app our driver asked us to rate him, which we gladly did.. The next day, we posted a positive review on Yelp for The Simone (even though the owner Tina has never seen Yelp).
Day 2 - The Delta app guided us easily to the Delta Lounge for a nice cup of coffee and a chance to read the paper before our anticipated 9:00AM departure for Portland. But alas, no seats on the plane for us! No more app needed, thanks to the stellar Delta employee, Andrene who stayed with us until we finally were able to get on a plane to Boston. But as we rushed from one airside to another, Scott was busily checking the bus schedule and purchasing our tickets to travel from Boston to Portland.
Day 5 - On Day 4 after spending the day with our son for Parent's Day, we traveled from Maine to Connecticut. We get up early on Day 5 and headed south. After lunch Scott got online to figure out our destination for the day and to check on accommodations. A great review on AirBnB took us to Petersburg, Virginia. A quaint restored apartment in the heart of downtown. The owner was incredibly gracious and informative of the town, its history and its future plans. We posted a positive review as well as a Facebook post bragging about the apartment and the owner.
Day 6 - Leaving Virginia behind and on our way to Savannah, the only destination that was pre-determined. The hotel was selected through Hotels.com because of the reviews and the price. About an hour into our trip, we realize that our AC in the car is not working. We stop in Florence, SC for fuel and to eat. Through TripAdvisor we find a lunch spot that comes highly recommended by several positive reviews. It is a bit off the Interstate, but the reviews made us decide it was worth it. Victor's Bistro was a wonderful lunch and we posted a review after we got back on the road. Our challenge now is to arrive in Savannah in time to drop off our car with a reliable mechanic to fix our AC. Scott searches on Yelp and reads several positive reviews for Integrity Auto. We contact them and inform them we will be arriving right at closing and to please wait for us - they gladly do. Dinner is at The Olde Pink House, selected because of the Yelp reviews and reserved through Open Table.
Day 7 - We check out of the 17Hundred90 Hotel, pick up our car that is blowing cold air again and has a new headlight that we forgot to mention, but Integrity replaced for us. We got on the road for our final leg home to Florida. While driving, I posted reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Hotels.com, and Open Table chronicling our great experiences with the restaurants, hotels and mechanic we patronized along the way.
We really see the reviews as a two-way relationship - reading reviews to help us make our decisions and then posting reviews to "pay it forward" to help others.
So, if you run a B2C business, you should be requesting customers to write reviews. We were just in a store in Tampa and the sales associate asked us how we heard of the store and we told her, Google reviews. She informed us that her boss incentivized the sales people to suggest posting reviews on Google by offering the sales associate with the most reviews a weekend getaway to the beach!
If you do not run a B2C business, but you are part of the 90% who read reviews before making a purchasing decision, take the time to pay it forward and post a review.