Online Business Reviews: A Double-Edged Sword

True or False: Reviews are ambiguous, pointless comments and ratings usually made by consumers who are either trying to take advantage of your business or are just never satisfied.

Answer: It doesn’t matter.

People pay attention to online reviews. Shopify cited that 90% of consumers  say that their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. This means no reviews or bad reviews can have a direct impact on your sales or lack thereof.  Why are online reviews so powerful and what can you do to get them? Read on to find out.

Why you should create online business accounts.

Reviews provide Positive Affirmations and inherited trust from people your consumers trust. Review sites are integrated with top social media platforms which prompt consumers to share their reviews with their social media buds. Think of it as a referral process you don’t even have to touch until the new customer is knocking at your (sales) door.

Online Marketing vs “Word of Mouth”:  I really tried to find a stat on how fast information travels via traditional Word of Mouth vs. Online Marketing but I think I was aiming too high. In any case, I’m sure information travels a Ga-Zillion times faster online than in person. Feel free to prove me wrong. Following that very scientific logic, you could potentially be reaching a Ga-Zillion more consumers with a strong review track-record. Essentially more reviews=more exposure.

So how do you get positive online reviews? We simplify the process below.

What NOT to do:

  • Ask for a “positive review” in exchange for a free/discounted product or service. Don’t beg. Especially on sites such as where reviews can have a direct impact on the status of your account. You don’t want to give the impression that you are bribing consumers for positive feedback.
  • Ask an UNsatisfied customer to leave feedback via online platforms: You’re setting yourself up for failure. Hard. Think of Reviews as your businesses’ permanent record. Customers tend to gravitate towards businesses with a higher (1) number of reviews and (2) average review rating. Trying a new restaurant or salon for the first time can be an unnerving adventure for some (I would imagine the type of people who would check review sites in the first place). So do everything in your power to keep negative reviews out of public forums that could cause a potential customer to pass on your business.
  • Argue with or insult a customer who has left negative feedback online. The old philosophy “The Consumer is always right” should resonate here. Seriously. Don’t. In fact, if you have a hard time keeping emotion out of the consumer engagement mix, you should probably pass on this task to someone else.

FACT: Someone will be unsatisfied with some facet of your business eventually. Whether genuine dissatisfaction or simply a Repeat Free Product Consumer Opportunist (positively put) you gotta take one, in fact  many, for The Team.  Okay, the following is another “old saying” reference but it sooooooo applies. Ahem:

“Never argue with a fool. From a distance you can’t tell who’s who.” —Many Credible People

Interestingly enough in this case, your audience see’s your argument up close and more often than not you’re the fool. So Refrain and Sustain (your business), my friend. Your online reputation will thank you.

What you SHOULD do instead:

  • Encourage the customer (especially overly satisfied ones) to leave feedback about their experience. Period. Don’t offer them anything. (NOTE: This only applies to online platforms. It is totally appropriate to offer a discount or free product/service or contest entry in exchange for an INTERNAL review of your business.) Every business that starts the path to the 5-Star Bricked Road of Reviews faces a dry spell. It’s easy to write Review Acquisition off as a slow and ineffective process however as in most Marketing Strategies worth investing in, the Return on Investment is a slow but sure and effective feat.
  • RESOLVE the issue. Have Customer Service Handling Guidelines in place to handle and escalate issues promptly and professionally. If the customer remains unsatisfied be sure to offer your appropriate condolences, Discount Codes, Free Products, etc. as needed. MOST IMPORTANTLY, attempt to have them complete an INTERNAL Review monitored by your business. This not only appeases the customer’s need to feel that their opinion matters and will be heard, but it allows disgruntled customers the ability to sound-off on a platform that won’t affect your business’ online reputation. Remind your customer that you are constantly seeking ways to give them the best experience possible.
  • In the occasion that you receive a negative or unflattering review, the first thing you should do is: (1) swallow your pride (as applicable), (2) respond to the comment immediately to ensure damage control, (3) offer your condolences & ask the consumer to contact your customer service handling team to resolve the matter, and (4) handle it. When you have determined that the customer is satisfied with your resolution ask the customer to remove the feedback themselves. In some special instances you can request that damaging reviews be removed from their respective platforms, but don’t count on it. Refer to the text “….Double-Edged Sword” in the title of this article.

Now that you know why you should start focusing more effort towards acquiring positive reviews, let’s get to work. We wish you all the reviews your business can handle this holiday season.

Managing online marketing can be hard and time consuming for business owners! Read 7 Signs Your Business’ Marketing Strategy Sucks! to get on the right track.

Are you having trouble performing digitally? Click here for your free Digital Diagnosis!

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MarketHers is a woman and black-owned digital marketing company based in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly & Sisterly Love. 



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