The implications for businesses:
- Those that are currently ignoring Google reviews: you will begin to get them (Google Local Guides are incentivised to write reviews - see the 'level' and 'points' above and this article), and, given human nature, unhappy customers are about fifteen times as likely to post as happy ones.
- Those currently using another reviews system: your dissatisfied customers will begin to post to Google, especially if they happen to be Local Guides. This is a syndrome we call 'deflection' and there is more about that here.
- Adopt a proactive review management strategy. How ever much you and your colleagues are still saying 'who posts these reviews?' and 'what king of people pay attention to these reviews' you know the answer to the second question is certainly not 'no-one': apart from studies from the likes of Harvard Business School there is the amount of real estate Google now dedicates to reviews in search and the hard evidence from those that have adopted such a strategy (20% more calls and 30% more visits to your website anyone? See this case history).
- If your review management strategy currently involves a reviews site (other than Google): change to a Google-focussed strategy (see the results of doing this in the link above - the client in this case study moved from a reviews site to adopt professional review management).
- If you are currently breaking the law (and many businesses, wittingly or unwittingly are): conduct a thorough compliance audit to ensure you are not either cherry-picking (inviting selected customers to post reviews) or gating (using a more formal mechanism to identify happy customers - e.g. a survey, or even another reviews site - before then only inviting proven satisfied customers to post a review).