I used to sell advertising on an online platform famous for its reviews feature. The number one objection I got from potential clients was that anybody can say whatever they want; they can lie, make things up or the review can even be written by a competitor. They had no interest in enabling this consumer empowerment because of their bias against it. Over time I learned to listen to this pushback and to overcome this particular challenge by educating the prospect about reviews.
Before the Internet every business and service provider was reviewed, we called them recommendations or referrals. If you liked a product or service you received, you told your friends and family about it. You certainly told them if you did not. Businesses used to display signs asking you to refer them if you were a satisfied customer. If you were a business owner or service provider and a customer was not happy, you knew that if you did not do something to mitigate the damage it could hurt you. The motto from way before the Internet existed was, the customer is always right. That has not changed.
Once you accept the fact that reviews are now just part of doing business you should embrace it. We all know people who still pay their bills with checks. I hate to admit it, but I still have physical checks in my possession that admittedly I never use. The technology exists to never need a checkbook, yet I still hold onto mine in case of emergency. I have accepted and appreciate the immediacy of swiping a card or clicking a button on my phone to pay for something or to get paid.
I can list all the negative aspects of cell phones but being able to reach loved ones immediately almost always outweighs them. No matter what my opinion of them, cell phones are here to stay. I know people who still have a landline, I don’t. There are a lot of negative aspects to online reviews but the good far outweighs them.
It’s not perfect yet, but almost all reputable platforms that allow reviews have policies in place to try and best ensure that the reviews are real. They also allow publicly displayed responses and the ability to remove fraudulent or inappropriate reviews. Let me reiterate, IT’S NOT PERFECT. Since it isn’t, it becomes that much more urgent for you to be on top of the platform’s review policy and for you to be on top of your reviews. Some platforms like Amazon, have a setting for you to get alerts when a review is written about one of your products. The more active you are on a platform the more important to be knowledgeable about their review policy.
Stuff happens, you are going to get bad reviews! It might not even be your fault. It doesn’t matter. Most rational consumers understand that not everyone is satisfied. How you respond though makes a difference.
There is much written about the best ways to respond to bad reviews and I suggest you do some research and read up on it. Every business and service provider needs to adapt their review response policy to their specific area of expertise. My point is, have a plan to respond to good and bad reviews. You want to thank the good reviewer and you definitely want to eat humble pie and apologize to the bad one. You also want to try and remedy whatever they complain about, it usually results in an amended review.
In my last post, I wrote about the benefits of focusing on content over reviews. Content is still king but having a review strategy, especially if you have a bunch of them is crucial too. The best way to look at reviews is to flip any negative impressions you have of them over. If instinctively you know that a bad review is detrimental to your business then you must know that good reviews help get you business. Aim to get as many good reviews as you can, try and fix the bad ones and always be on top of them. Reviews are here to stay, make them work for you.