By: Jürgen Strauss
Facebook, Twitter and other social media interactions are valuable tools to help grow your business but what about reviews? Take the case of a frequent flier who will be travelling to a new destination for business. Since online contact is already a common mode of communication, we can expect that the traveller will already ask his or her contacts via the internet with regards to the best hotel or place to stay in that particular area. However, when not satisfied with the answers, it won’t be surprising that he or she will resort to online reviews. 90% of people trust reviews or recommendations from their friends, but an astonishing 89% of people trust recommendations from COMPLETE STRANGERS online! This is why managing reviews is an important aspect in reputation management.
In a separate survey, cars.com that caters to reviews on car dealerships, indicated that reviews are multiplied four times after one year of publishing them. The increase is naturally generated by the community and contacts of the original reviewers. The site can attest that 25 percent of car buyers are definitely influenced by what they see online on their car buying decisions. It is safe to say that car buyers do resort to consumer opinions over the web.
Destructive comments can tarnish a company’s reputation. Some victims justify this as their competitors’ move in stealing the business away from them – but if a detractor can do this, why can’t you as business owner do the other way around? Negative publicities in the past do disappear when you ignore them – but it’s a different thing online when negative comments can easily go viral. Imagine getting destroyed by things you don’t know about? This is why monitoring what is said about you and your business is advised. In fact, it does help to give incentives to happy customers to leave their positive comments in popular review platforms – to at least balance the negative ones or push aside damaging contents whether unfounded or not.
Do respond to negative reviews in a professional and constructive manner. Customers may well highlight a problem you have with your business, and therefore help you improve. Whatever you do, don’t engage in an argument with the reviewers online! And remember to THANK people for their reviews, whether positive or negative.
If you are determined to make it big in business in this time and age, you have to be on your guard with respect to reviews and ratings that people are giving you, your products or services and business online. Don’t wait until something bad is said that can definitely hurt you. Purchasers are now wiser with their money than ever. They won’t spend a substantial amount without learning from other people’s experience. Their advantage at this point is what internet access or service is providing – which is getting fast and verifiable information right at the tip of your finger.
Just think of this. If you really want to know the behaviour of your target market, put yourself into their shoes. If you see a brand with 40% positive reviews and 60% mixed opinions, would you rather choose it over something with 90% good reviews? I don’t think so.
Do What the “Big Guys” Do
eBay and Amazon have been using reviews since their early days. With eBay, both sellers and buyers are rated, so that, as a user of the service, you can learn how other people have rated potential buyers or sellers that you might deal with. Amazon have a review system in place for purchasers of product to post reviews about those products.
If using reviews as a business tool is good enough for eBay and Amazon, is it worthwhile for your business?