are reviews important?

Are Reviews More or Less Important During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Are reviews important? Yes. Are they more important as local businesses are shuttered across the world and marketers are having to be creative in how they keep their businesses afloat?

If you’re an experienced marketer or regular reader, you’re already familiar with the incredible impact reviews can have on your business and your clients.

What about Covid-19?   

Are online reviews as important or as impactful as they were before this outbreak? Absolutely, customers are still spending money and writing reviews. This provides strong evidence that reviews are still as impactful as they were before the outbreak. 

But more impactful?

Why online reviews are more impactful than ever before

We’re all working hard to get through this recent turn of events. As a business owner, you’re doing your very best to take care of your customers, protect your employees, and take care of your families. It’s an unexpected change you’re suddenly forced to deal with.

You’ve done it before.

If you’re an experienced entrepreneur, this is old news for you. You’re regularly required to adapt, modify, or pivot to respond to unexpected challenges.

This is what entrepreneurs do. 

It’s a little bit more challenging for your customers. Many customers are looking for some normalcy. They want their routines to go back to normal, but they’re finding that a bit difficult. This is why reviews are more important than ever before.

Reviews reassure existing customers. They create safety for new customers.

What has elevated the importance of reviews?

The immediate answer is Covid-19.

Believe it or not, this is actually an incomplete answer. A complete answer would be existing relationships. If customers have strong relationships with brands, Covid-19 won’t change that. These customers will continue to frequent the businesses they know, love, and trust.

You’re part of their tribe.

This means customers are cautious about two types of business relationships.

1. New relationships with unproven brands. Requesting reviews from your regulars and loyalists is a phenomenal vote of confidence in your business. If you’re running your business remotely, or like restaurants, you’re operating in a limited fashion, reviews will continue to help you to establish new relationships with customers.

2. Poor relationships with underperforming brands. These relationships are few and far between to begin with. Customers typically don’t wait for a pandemic to end a relationship with an underperforming brand. However, they may be quick to do so with brands that have continued to underperform for some time. 

In light of this, where should your focus be?

On serving others.

There are a few companies who’ve decided to try and take advantage of consumers. But businesses and consumers have been quick to point these folks out. Take respirators, for example.

This Amazon seller sold his product at a price that felt unreasonable to customers. They were immediately called out in the reviews.

price gouging amazon review

Other consumers did it too.

coronavirus negative amazon product review

As a counterpoint, 3M has stepped up and provided several retailers with reasonably priced N95 respirators for those who are in need.

amazon coronavirus mask review

This is a beautiful thing to see.

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know there are seven motivations behind customer reviews. In our current climate with social distancing, we’re going to see more of the following types of reviews:

  • Helping your company. These customers feel a strong pull towards reciprocity (I have to repay my debt) or likeability (I like you and want to help). They have a desire to help your company in some way.
  • Altruism. Customers are looking out for prospective buyers. They're focused on sharing their experience, whether it's positive or negative.

This is fantastic news. 

As we’ve seen from the reviews above, the vast majority of people are coming together. We’re looking out for each other in ways that are downright inspiring.

Paul Van Lierop created BozemanStrong.org, a website to bring businesses and neighbors together. “Buy a gift card direct from the business to use later and help them out right now! These are our neighbors.”

gallatin valley pandemic promotion

Major telecom service providers have banded together to help families, students, and employees work remotely from home.

spectrum free internet

Facebook is investing $100 million to help 30,000 eligible small businesses in 30 countries keep their doors open and the lights on.

facebook small business grant COVID-19 program

Small and medium-sized manufacturing companies step up to create face shields for healthcare workers during the pandemic.

Adult care center, Valir Pace, is creating care packages for the elderly to ensure the vulnerable among us have the supplies and resources they need.

oklahoma city care package

The Patio Cafe in Fig Garden Village at Palm and Shaw in Fresno are putting together care packages to protect against price gouging and extortion.

And the most touching story so far…

A 7-year-old boy uses $600 of his own savings to make coronavirus care packages for seniors.

“Cavanaugh Bell, 7, spent $600 of his own money, saved up from two birthdays and three Christmases, to purchase and package 65 “COVID-19 Care packs” along with 31 hot meals from a local restaurant, Buca Di Beppo, to serve to senior citizens and help the local businesses impacted by being closed after Gov. Larry Hogan shut down restaurants Monday.”

Others joined in and decided to donate to support him as he put these care packs together.

Honestly, I’m so proud.

While reviews aren’t the goal here, customers won’t forget the brands and local businesses that went out of their way to serve. This isn’t about giving to get; it’s just about giving.

The long term impact on local businesses

Others are concerned this could have a negative impact on the economy.

I disagree.

History and current data paint a very different picture.

For many Americans, it’s business as usual. Consumers are still spending, with some segments seeing marked growth in the next six months!

Source: BCG.com

Customers are expecting deals as a result of Covid-19, and they’re incentivized to spend for a variety of reasons. So that’s point number one. What about past outbreaks? 

Here’s how past outbreaks affected our economy.

“According to Dow Jones Market Data, the S&P 500 posted a gain of 14.59% after the first occurrence of SARS back in 2002-03, based on the end of month performance for the index in April, 2003. About 12 months after that point, the broad-market benchmark was up 20.76%.”

EpidemicMonth-end6-mo. % change of S&P12-mo. % change of S&P
HIV/AIDSJune 1981-0.3-16.5
Pneumonic plagueSeptember 19948.226.3
SARSApril 200314.5920.76
Avian fluJune 200611.6618.36
Dengue FeverSeptember 20066.3614.29
Swine fluApril 200918.7235.96
CholeraNovember 201013.955.63
MERSMay 201310.7417.96
EbolaMarch 20145.3410.44
Measles/RubeolaDecember 20140.20-0.73
ZikaJanuary 201612.0317.45
Measles/RubeolaJune 20199.82%N/A

Okay, this is just the U.S.

What about the rest of the world? Welp, the response is remarkably similar.

Look at how fast we bounced back.

Yes! 

I expect the same results here. Of course, it’s essential to add the disclaimer that past performance is not an indicator of future results. That said, this shows that we’re incredibly resilient.

How businesses can work through these changes

Find ways to serve.

According to the New York Times, 158 million people in 16 states, nine counties and three cities are being urged to stay home. These statewide orders are encouragement for people to limit their activity and focus on the essentials.

Where do agencies fit in all of this? 

If you’re running an agency, you’re in a unique position to take care of your clients, their customers, and those around you in your local communities. Here are some steps you can take to serve now.

1. Do what it takes to keep your doors open and the lights on. Provide clients with remote services if you aren’t doing so already. Begin looking for ways to pivot if your clients need additional help and resources.

2. If your clients provide essential products and services or services that are still in demand, help them make the appropriate changes to accommodate customers. Create a delivery service if there is none; discuss a temporary, semi-permanent, or permanent pivot if your clients need to do so to survive. If you provide an essential product or service, it’s still reasonable to request reviews. Reviews are more important than ever! They provide customers with the critical feedback they need to make good spending decisions.

3. If your clients can’t run their business, it may be a good idea for you to limit or suspend any active agreements and do what you can to help your clients produce results. If you can, help these clients pivot – do what you can to help them maintain their earning potential. Do the hard work of finding solutions to the problems around you.

4. If your clients provide non-essential products and services, become a survival, pivot, or turnaround expert. Provide clients with the advice and guidance they need to survive. Become an expert with the SBA’s Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources. Quickly map the federal and state resources available to help your clients weather this temporary storm. If you’re a connector, begin connecting your clients with the support they need. If you’re a maven, start distributing the critical information your clients need to survive.   

Adapt your solutions to your client’s problems.

Of course, we're supposed to say reviews are important

Grade.us is a review management company. 

It certainly seems like we have a vested interest in advocating for reviews, doesn’t it? But this isn’t about us. It’s actually about the clients and customers who depend on you. If you’re a regular reader, you know that customers rely on reviews for a variety of reasons.

Maybe reviews are less important than they were before. 

Here’s evidence that shows the opposite is true. The U.S. attorney provides consumers with helpful tips to avoid Covid-19 scams targeting vulnerable populations. Among these tips? Relying on online reviews.

“Check online reviews of any company offering COVID-19 products or supplies.  Avoid companies whose customers have complained about not receiving items.” 

What does this show?

Reviews are a form of error correction that’s designed to protect consumer trust, and the U.S. Attorney’s office recommends it as a tool consumers can use to protect themselves. 

It’s validation.

The data is clear: Reviews are more important than ever

As a business owner, you’re doing your very best to take care of your customers, protect your employees, and take care of your families. It’s an unexpected change you’re suddenly forced to deal with.

Reviews validate your reputation publicly.

They show customers you’re a safe option in this difficult time. As an experienced entrepreneur, this is old news for you. You’re regularly required to adapt, modify, or pivot to respond to unexpected challenges. 

It’s what you do.

It’s a bit more challenging for your customers. Use reviews to provide them with the safety and peace of mind; they need to continue to choose you. Continue to serve your clients, customers, and community. You’ll find your customers are willing to invest in your business, just as you’ve invested in them.  

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