Five-Star Company, Two-Star Review

Five-Star Company, Two-Star Review

The anonymity of the internet does an amazing job of removing people’s filters, because they’re sure quick to say how they feel on the web. When negative comments are posted about a company or service, not only can it be incredibly discouraging for a business owner, but also potentially detrimental to the business itself.

That got us wondering about how much weight online reviews really carry, how they can impact a company, and what types of steps owners can take to address them. As it turns out, no matter what type of industry you’re in, online reviews matter. Likely, more than you’d think.


Of Major Significance

Perception is an important aspect of marketing and the value of digital word-of-mouth recommendations is a major part of a company’s image in today’s marketplace. For retail operations, this is almost universally true. But it’s also becoming a significant form of marketing for service companies, contractors, hotels, physicians, and even schools.

  • A negative review can drive away 40% of potential customers.
  • 57% of customers won’t use a business that has fewer than four stars.
  • 56% of people used online reviews to find their most recent construction/repair crew, and 86% would pay more for a crew with higher ratings and reviews.
  • Consumers are likely to spend 31% more on products and services from businesses that have excellent reviews.
  • 90% of customers read online reviews for local businesses. For young people, the rate is over 95%.
  • 92% of all consumers read reviews online.

Sources: Forbes, Constant Contact, BrightLocal, Software Advice

One interesting thing to note about the stats presented above is that potential customers are not just taking an extended look at companies they were already considering patronizing, they’re also using reviews to find products or services they are seeking. This means reviews are not only testimonials for completed interactions, but also an organic source of new business attraction.

This means that a bank of positive reviews on a reputable site is potentially going to be the way that new customers first discover your business. It’s also free, making it a fantastic marketing outlet. But, how can your business exert any kind of control measures over this?


Online Reputation Management

It may feel like online reviews are totally out of your hands, but there are in fact several steps a business owner can take to sway them to their favor. In fact, those measures have their own term: online reputation management.

  • Step 1: If you build it, they will come. Or, in other words, if you establish an online presence where customers can leave reviews, they will. Don’t make your company hard to find. Verify your listing in places like Google, Facebook, and Yelp at the very least and make sure your information is 100 percent accurate. There are also numerous other sites that may apply depending on your industry, like TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, Foursquare, and others.
  • Step 2: Deliver top-shelf customer service and client outcomes like you always do.
  • Step 3: Ask customers for positive reviews. This is usually done with a follow-up contact, frequently with a thank-you-for-your-business letter or papers with your receipts/invoices. There’s a two-fold benefit to this. One, you can direct customers to your preferred outlet for reviews (or theirs) and, two, you can add a bit of a pre-emptive filter against negative reviews. Something to the effect of, “Not 100% satisfied? Please let us know so we can make things right.” This is important because, reportedly, it can take numerous positive reviews to outweigh a single negative one. Some studies even suggest it can take as many as 40 positives to undo the damage of a single negative one (Inc. magazine).
  • Step 4: Be sure to follow up with people that leave positive reviews by responding with a quick thank you to show your appreciation. Allow them to engage with your brand so you’ll have an opportunity to learn from them about what worked best and what could use improvement. Stats indicate that 65% of customers become more loyal to a brand when companies respond. (Sprout Social)
  • Step 5: If and when bad reviews happen, don’t fret. A little bit of bad news adds to the overall authenticity of your reviews overall, which is great. Nobody’s perfect all the time and a company with a full collection of five-star reviews is certainly a little suspicious. Just be sure that your company responds appropriately to try and rectify the situation and turn things around. Avoid engaging someone that’s just being nasty for the sake of it but make a genuine effort to fulfill any customers that are honestly unsatisfied. That’ll showcase your commitment to quality outcomes.


Effective and Free

Maintaining your online reputation takes a little investment of your time each week that will amount to a no-cost, highly beneficial marketing pathway. It has the potential to solidify brand loyalty, validate your high-quality work, and even inbound new customers to your door. Companies from almost any industry have a lot to gain, or lose, from online reviews. Here, a little effort goes a very long way.

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