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Online reviews; The good the bad and the downright rude

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

We all remember the days when comment boxes at the reception of a hotel were only used by those who truly had something to say or the very few who simply could be bothered standing there with people watching while they filled out those tiny cards to slip in the slot. Gone are the days where restaurants asked you at the end of your meal to fill out a short satisfaction survey in order that they could improve their services.

We now live in an age where you can notify the whole world when something hasn’t gone your way, even if you only remember to do so months or years later. Who would have thought that your local ‘ma and pa’ eatery at the end of your street could be doomed because of a bad steak they served 6 months ago? This is the world we live in…. The new world order.

Like all things in life, there are pros and cons. The general consensus however is that online review sites are becoming more important than ever with 90% of consumers reading reviews to decide if a business is worth visiting, or not.

So where do we as business owners begin on our journey of review site discovery? The best place to start would be looking at how you can use them to your advantage.

Review sites have stemmed over time from the old local directory sites, which show word-of-mouth has now moved online. I have discovered review sites to be a marketing opportunity especially for small-medium size businesses. They are an opportunity to connect your business with consumers. You can even offer your customers a benefit/discount for taking the time to give feedback through preferred review sites. When you do this you can almost always drown out any negative feedback you have received rather quickly.

Local business owners can specifically use review sites to bring themselves to the top of a search in google by listing themselves with their full contact details and hours of business etc on many sites. Doing this can be a deciding factor of whether you will be found by a tourist or couple out on date night for example, or not at all.

Online reviews are considered the number 1 most influential marketing tool for retail businesses. With this in mind, it is essential you keep on top of review sites where your business is mentioned and what sort of things are trending in your industry.

There are two ways to do this;

1. Check all review sites daily yourself, which will take time and consistency.

2. Use new tools such as fakespot or reviewmeta. These tools are designed using an algorithm to rate reviews, specifically looking for fake reviews and negative content. There are other tools such as Buzzsumo which use keywords to find what is popular or trending in any industry or using a particular keyword. Simple social media tools via facebook or linkedIn will alert you if you have been in searches recently, this should give you some idea of when you are being talked about.

Along with the benefits, there are also some disadvantages of the review site revolution.

Fake reviews are becoming one of the most dangerous aspects for a business. A recent study found 61% of electronic reviews on Amazon are “fake”. With this in mind, how can a consumer make a real decision? The answer is, they can’t. They will follow what their peers tell them online. So it is even more important with all these “bots” out there that your business is seen in the most positive light, because your competition may be faking it.

What sort of impact can a negative review have on a business?

Negative reviews cost 1 in 5 business as much as £30,000 to put it right. Further, 1 in 6 business owners claim that unfair negative posts could destroy their business completely.

What can you do about a negative review?

The first thing that should be done is to write a reply. Every business is entitled to reply to the comment, explain where the mistake was made and either rectify it and ask the comment be removed or at least let the public see that you have made the effort to fix the problem. If you find the negative review is completely false, more often than not you can explain your case to the host of the site and they will remove it completely. The worst thing you can do when you receive a negative review, is nothing. All too often this is the case and the business looses out ten fold.

With all the advice out there these days it can be hard to know which direction to take, what advice to listen too and which blogs to read. More so, what small business owner has the time?

It is companies like YESpbm that are taking a stand against the negative and false online world that is being created around us, and are trying to help those that either don’t have the time or don’t have the knowledge to do something themselves.

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