The saying has always been, “A happy customer will tell ten people about their experience. An angry customer will tell 100.” With the availability of the internet and increasing ease of leaving reviews, it is vital that you have a handle on your reputation, especially online. Some years ago, Google introduced the notion of what they called the “Zero Moment of Truth.” This refers to when prospective clients, instead of going to stores and talking to an expert, started turning online for recommendations. Now, if there is any question on a product, YouTube is your specialist. Locally, Google business listings are your expert, and in some cases, there are sites specifically created to handle reviews. For example, doctors should be paying close attention to Health Grades, Construction and Maintenance – Angie’s List. But what is the actual effect on your business if negative reviews exist? Short answer, there is a lot to lose.
According to recent studies, 67% of consumers make their purchasing decisions based on reviews. Of the people using reviews as a basis, 94% of consumers will avoid a business with bad reviews. Businesses with one 1.5 star rating report 33% less revenue than businesses with a 4-5 star rating. This does not mean that the company with the 4-5 star rating is that much better. They may have better customer service or a better product, but maybe not. It could just be that they are paying close attention to their online reputation. Don’t let reviews online spoil the excellent service and reputation you have built away from the internet for so many years.
The other vital part of watching your reputation online is the effect it has on your search rankings, most importantly with local search results. As Google and other search networks evolve, they continue to modify their results that are displayed. They do this to make sure that the viewer coming to their site for information, gets the most accurate and helpful info that they can. Google does not care about your business. They care about their user getting this accurate information. Negative reviews have a very strong effect on your rankings. You can have the best-looking, easy to navigate website with a ton of helpful information, but if your business has poor reviews, Google will push you down the list.
So what can you do to protect yourself from negative reviews? Below are a few things to do to plan and work to protect your reputation:
- First and foremost, invest in an online reputation monitoring system, either internally or find a partner. We operate with numerous clients to help them keep reviews in check but also to help generate positive reviews. These systems include responding to negative reviews as well as integrating into CRM and ERP solutions to help facilitate positive reviews.
- Avoid negative reviews where possible, but know they will happen. When you do receive a negative review, it does not go away. The best thing to do here is to provide a timely response to the review, offering more information on a subject, or offering to fix the problem. Apologies go a long way. 47% of users that see a quick response to a negative review will not skip a business due to a bad review if they are offering a solution.
- Encourage happy customers to give positive reviews. As we mentioned early on, positive reviews are hard to come by. If the service is good, the happiness is not shared as quickly as the bad experience. With integration into your check-out process, review requests can be easily facilitated. This should be a priority in your strategy listed above.
In the day of the internet, your online reputation will either drive customers to you or drive them to your competitors. Reviews will continue to convey the way customers have been treated at your business and what their experiences were. It is essential that businesses monitor their online reviews so that their brand and business are represented in the most positive way possible. Make sure you ensure your ideal customers see you in a positive way.