By Scott Gordon, The Chief Revenue Officer
In working with clients from across the country in a number of industries, I’ve noticed that regardless of business model, customer segment, or other apparent differences, all businesses face similar threats to their online reputations.
These threats add complexity to the already difficult reviews management challenges facing businesses today and come from entities that are both familiar and surprising. Regardless of where they originate, one star reviews can scare off prospects and even cause longtime customers to question their loyalty.
With that, here are the Top 5 Online Review Threats:
1. Unhappy Customers
There’s nothing like stating the obvious. You may be thinking, ‘tell me something I don’t already know.’ But consider this – unhappy customers are 11x more likely to leave a review than happy ones. Therefore, if you don’t have countermeasures in place (like a review management software platform for example), unhappy customers can swamp your online reputation.
Counteract this threat by consistently asking your happy customers to leave reviews and directing them with live links to review sites that matter to you, like Google and Facebook which are both rapidly eclipsing Yelp as the go to for customers seeking reputable companies.
Also, working with unhappy clients to turn them around is critically important. A 1-star review that is later updated to a 4-star review because you ‘made it right’ is gold and will win you even more customers who now know that you take customer service seriously.
Disgruntled ex-employees are a double threat. Not only can they leave unflattering reviews on Yelp, Google, and other review sites that cause prospects to think twice before contacting your business, they can also interfere with recruiting efforts. How? By sharing their negative opinions on job sites like Indeed and Glassdoor.
The difficulty here is that whenever someone types ‘your company name’ and the search term ‘reviews’, Glassdoor and Indeed are both top ranking sites. Some potential buyers will consider how you treat your employees before doing business with you while others who don’t view this as important might be swayed by the fictitious 1-star Yelp review they left.
I’ve helped many clients have employee reviews removed from sites like Yelp, but it’s a process and their dirty laundry can sit there for days or weeks before it’s pulled down.
Not everyone in your industry plays clean, as I’m sure you’re already aware. There are some who believe that if they sully your reputation somehow the universe will send more business their way. Their strategy is simple – drive your star rating lower than theirs.
Unfortunately, while you may suspect which of your competitors is leaving you negative reviews, it’s often very hard to prove. These, like ex-employee reviews, have one important indicator in common – the name of the reviewer doesn’t exist in your CRM database.
The best strategy for fighting these unsavory characters is to make your online reviews unassailable. What I mean by this is that a business with 5-stars, but only 5 reviews, is easily attacked. In this example, a single 1-star review will drop the average to 4.3 while a second will take the average to 3.9 (below the critical 4-star mark!).
A 4.6 rating with 300 reviews is like a castle with a moat, wall, and army protecting it. The barbarian hordes will move on to easier prey.
4. Name Confusion
Does your company’s name sound like a competitor’s? If you, you could accidentally attract some of their negative reviews while they grab some of your positive reviews.
When you actively solicit customer reviews with active review links, you prevent the latter from ever becoming an issue while the former is harder to control. Just as with competitors and ex-employees, the best defense against name confusion is a strong offense.
When you proactively build up the defensive ramparts around your reputation, these types of reviews are less impactful and quickly buried while we work to have them removed.
5. Opting out of Reputation Management
With 93% of buyers consulting online reviews before they make a purchasing decision and 78% of internet searches driven by product research, companies who opt out of reputation management do so at a huge cost.
According to Harvard Business Review, each 1/10 of a ‘star point’ equals 1% of gross revenue up or down. According to their research, a company with 4.5 stars will enjoy 10% more top line revenue than a similar business at 3.5 stars, all things being equal.
For most businesses, a 10% increase in revenue is meaningful, particularly if that business comes after overhead has been covered. In other words, this incremental business is often more profitable than your run rate business. When you opt out of reputation and review management (generally by doing nothing), you essentially get what the internet gives you by default, and that can be a very dangerous proposition.
Don’t let your online reputation happen by default at the whims of ex-employees, competitors, and other internet trolls. A strong review management strategy will build a wall around your business’ reputation and make it unassailable to these and other internet threats.