Customer decision making is the important process behind whether a customer chooses to buy a product/service or look elsewhere.
And if you’re a business owner, understanding each step of this process is worth knowing for better understanding your customers.
Reviews, now the most sought-after online resource for businesses, have a major impact on the customer’s purchase decision process.
After all, whether a customer can trust a business or not is evidenced in the reviews that real customers have posted.
But reviews are not the only factor that affects decision making; another factor is a business’s collective rating, which, like a badge of certification, is displayed on all major review sites and search engine results pages.
To understand the decision making process and why reviews, as well as ratings, are vital for driving customer purchases, make sure to keep reading as this guide explains everything that you need to know.
Understanding Purchase Decisions
First of all, what is a purchase decision?
Put simply, a purchase decision is the final decision a customer makes to buy a product or service, resulting in a sale.
The purchase decision is the most important part of the purchase decision process, also known as buying decision process, which involves several steps that may or may not lead to the customer’s decision to complete a purchase.
Generally, the purchase decision process is broken down into four steps:
Need recognition - the consumer recognizes a need for a product or service
Information search - the consumer searches for businesses, products, or services that will solve their need
Alternatives - if unsure, the consumer will consider and evaluate alternative products/services or businesses
Purchase decision - satisfied with the information found, the consumer makes the decision to purchase their chosen product or service
The above steps are not necessarily done consciously.
Therefore, it’s largely a psychological process for consumers that involves evaluating if a product/service, and the business providing it, is going to provide the solution to their need(s).
How Reviews Affect Customer Decision Making
So where do reviews fit in the decision making process?
Reviews, essentially first-hand testimonials of whether a business delivers on its promises, are significant in helping a customer decide whether or not to make a purchase.
A customer will read reviews during the information search stage.
This is where the customer, after finding a product or service, will consider the business’s reviews to see whether the feedback of other customers is positive or negative.
In fact, considering how much business is powered by online reviews in today’s world, 90% of customers say [their] buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
So, for an overwhelming majority of customers, reading reviews is important - and arguably instinctive.
It’s about confirming their trust in a business to rest assured they will receive what they need.
This is why customer reviews are essential for driving purchase decisions and increasing sales.
And this doesn’t only refer to positive reviews, as negative reviews can also positively influence the customer’s decision making process.
How Negative Reviews Affect Purchase Decisions
Needless to say, a large number of bad customer reviews is going to negatively affect customers’ purchase decisions.
Negative reviews mean poor service and unsatisfied customers, which will reduce how much a customer trusts a business.
On the upside, however, negative reviews can help purchase decisions.
On one hand, negative experiences are subjective, so what might be a negative point for one customer could be a positive point for another customer.
On the other hand, negative reviews can also make a business look more authentic.
No well-established business has a perfect 5-star rating through only having positive reviews.
And for businesses that do, customers can quickly get suspicious.
How Review Ratings Affect Decision Making
Before customers arrive at reading reviews, they will consider a business’s overall review rating.
This also occurs during the information search stage of the purchase decision process.
A customer will consider a business’s review rating either before clicking on a website, or before they decide to purchase a product or service.
Review ratings are not just displayed on all major review sites, but on search engine results pages.
This is why a customer is unlikely to even consider a business if they see that the review rating is poor.
Similarly, even if a customer lands on a business website offering a product or service they are interested in, there's a good chance they will still check that business’s rating (and reviews) before making the final decision to buy.
So ratings, just like reviews, can positively and negatively affect purchase decisions.
And since reviews are what generate a business’s review rating, this makes getting positive customer reviews all the more important for businesses.
Why It’s Better To Have More Reviews
Last but not least, it's not just the feedback provided in the reviews alone that will drive purchase decisions.
It shouldn’t have to be said that businesses should strive to receive positive reviews, as these will make any business more appealing.
After all, positive reviews indicate credibility, trustworthiness, and high-quality service.
And since negative reviews also can also influence positive reviews—as well as help to identify problem areas that need improving—businesses shouldn’t be afraid of receiving bad feedback once in a while.
But having more reviews can also drive purchase decisions.
A business that has hundreds of good reviews is going to be more appealing than a business that only has a few good reviews.
In the eyes of the customer, it shows authority and higher demand (especially when it concerns a specific product or service).
Of course, getting positive reviews is always more ideal than negative reviews.
And if your business has a high rating backed by hundreds of positive reviews, you can guarantee that customers will be more inclined to purchase what you have to offer.
Get More Reviews That Will Improve Purchase Decisions
It’s now automatic for customers to read a business’s reviews before deciding to buy a product or service, which makes it vital for businesses in this day and age to have as many positive reviews as possible.
But the benefits of positive reviews don’t stop at influencing purchase decisions.
Positive reviews improve SEO, Facebook reach, and general review site rankings - all of which lead to more sales.
The takeaway is clear: your business needs positive reviews to be successful, no matter whether you operate online or offline.
And to get more positive reviews quickly and organically, your business needs to be more efficient in requesting them from customers.
How? ReputationStacker takes care of this for you, fully automated from start to finish.
ReputationStacker is a powerful tool that directs your happy customers to write reviews while routing unhappy customers back to you so that you can handle any issues privately.
It’s simple, but that’s what makes it so effective.
The result? More positive reviews, fewer negative reviews, and greater power over your customers’ purchase decisions.
So, if you’re yet to find the solution to get more reviews, drive more sales, and improve a bad review rating, your business needs ReputationStacker.
Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.