According to Statista, as of January 2018, approximately 69% of the Australian population can be indentified as active Social Media users. This equates to around 17 million users! This also means that there are around 17 million opinions (whether personal or informed) being blasted out there! We are now dealing with a growing and unprecedented inflating ‘forum’ where posts can be: informative; useful; or misleading… the particular focus for our Marketing News and Insights blog on this occasion is all about business reviews and reviewers.
WHEN THINGS GO ACCORDING TO PLAN:
There are many happy business transactions that occur several times on a daily basis. If everything goes according to plan: say, your 3pm flight departed at 3.03pm and your arrival time at destination was 5:30pm, and you landed at 5:28pm and you got to your interstate meeting on or ahead of schedule, this would be classed as an “expectation” for the service that you paid for and therefore, according to normal ‘trends’ does not warrant a review because that’s what the airline company is “meant to do”. So, a job well done gets no praise.
WHEN THINGS DO NOT GO ACCORDING TO PLAN:
Let’s reverse the situation… due to an unexpected technical / safety and OH&S issue, the flight had to be delayed by 40 minutes. After the 2.5 hours of flight, the plane was not permitted to land immediately and had to circle the destination airport until cleared to do so. You’re late for your meeting and immediately write a review as to how that airline company did not fulfil their expectations, and, caused you to miss the most important meeting that you had this month! A human reaction and, were we not so in-depth involved in reputation management, without a second thought our frustration, being inconvenienced (practically and financially) our immediate impulse would be moved to pretty much the same.
WHAT IS AN EXAMPLE OF ACTUAL ‘SAMPLE’ SIZE v/s PERCEPTION:
This is where the bias is skewed to the detriment of those on the receiving end of reviews, regardless of industry! Let’s look at the scenario below:
- Looking at a sample size of 1,000 business transactions
- Out of a thousand business interactions, approximately 20 people who have had an as expected / or a pleasant experience decide to take the time to praise the business that they utilised – (sometimes you may even have a business that has existed for more than 5 years only have a total of 8 reviews across all important business or business owner media: Social Media Business Profiles / Search Engine / Professionally Linked profiles)
- Another 10, who believe that they have had a negative or sub-standard experience decide to rate the business at the lowest rating possible; and go on a narrative with a scathing review
- Perception and rating score: 33% of people were not happy – (10 out of 30 reviews)! When in fact, 0.01% / or 10 people out of a thousand, were angered to the point of going to write a scathing review!
FREEDOM OF SPEECH:
Sure, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Fortunately, particularly for “local business”, there is something far bigger than reviews and that’s local reputation. We have been dealing with business marketing / advertising since the late 80’s; in the last decade, the increase in consumers active online (even if not actually purchasing online) combined with the proximity of advertising media (a ‘Post’) and consumer feedback opportunities have added instant and visible ‘voices’ attachable to any activity that you or your business gets involved in, online! Great reviews; bad reviews; fake reviews and more have added a new level of emphasis and often stress for some business owners. Those who try hard to actually provide a good service are the ones most likely to be deeply affected (and it’s not an exaggeration) by some reviews.
REVIEW MANAGEMENT / REPUTATION MANAGEMENT:
A growing portion of our clientele whom utilise our services fully (not just a website build or an entry into the directory) dedicate time, budget and equal focus on reviews and reputation management. This includes acknowledging every single review – good or bad; and, if some might have a negative impact on your business, it is imperative that they are responded to… never defensively but in a positive, informative and helpful fashion towards the negative reviewer manner. This is where things get interesting…
Firstly, the savvy search engine and social media user can see through reviews. Overall, when reviews are authentic, seeing the consistent praise that a business is famous for v/s the consistent disappointment that a business is notorious for, AND, the responses granted to each reviewer (positive and negative), will say enough to the savvy customer to make an informed decision regarding your level of service; (the type of customers that you do want). The savvy customer knows that 5-star across the board is extremely difficult but the consistency AND, WHAT IT IS that you get praised for will say enough for them to almost accurately self-authenticate the real story. (This means that a great review is not just about “This business was great!…” but more so about “What make this place great are…”)
NEGATIVE REVIEWERS: What we call a stage 2 response – where the business owner has adequately, professionally acknowledged the reviewer – is where things become even more clear. This is why, if you care about your business, all negative reviews need to be responded to in an honest and informative manner. A persistence from the reviewer to remain or increase the level of ‘inflammatory’ reaction is where the reviewer reveals a lot more about him/herself more than they will ever know. Savvy consumers know and will see through what the real deal is. So, it’s not about 3.5 out of 5 stars or 4.5 out of 5 stars. It is about attaching a pivotal importance to your reviews and dedicating time to acknowledge and respond to them. MAKE IT AN ESSENTIAL PART OF EFFICIENTLY RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS THESE DAYS.
During our quarterly reviews that we have with our marketing clients, we attach increasing focus in keeping “reviews” high on the topics and agenda of the meetings. Frustratingly though, only 15% of our clientele attach a focus on marketing and consequently reviews as a crucial part of taking their business further into the digital age. The old adage “all of our business is word of mouth” keeps coming up; yet, we often get phone calls about “how do I remove this bad review?” or we are the ones alerting them about the reviews and that they need a response or be given the deserved attention.
Whether you like it or not, part of being online (Search Engines or Social Media), reviews are here to stay and have now become an ongoing work in progress. Happy customers can be made aware of the importance of leaving an honest review about their experience with your business. This will counteract the impact of those so disappointed that they feel compelled to let everyone know not to utilise your business. It is not permissible to ‘bribe’ customers into leaving positive reviews as you could be breaching the CCA (Competition & consumer Act 2010) – they can be prompted, encouraged to genuinely do so as they are important for any business but not in exchange for anything else.
The ACCC considers conduct such as the following to be misleading. You should not:
- encourage family and friends to write reviews about your business without disclosing their personal connection with your business in that review
- write reviews when you have not experienced the good or service reviewed or which do not reflect a genuinely held opinion
- solicit others to write reviews about your business or a competitor’s business if they have not experienced the good or service
Feel free to get in touch with us to know more about reputation management & marketing as a package for a more in-control business growth.