We’ve all seen the various online review websites out there that allow customers to write about their experiences at all sorts of businesses. There are some great advantages to what these sites offer, but there are also a number of noteworthy drawbacks to keep in mind. Small business advisor Bert Seither takes a closer look at these pros and cons of online reviews for small businesses:
Thanks to technological innovations, accessing online reviews about your local steakhouse, fishing shop, or clothing store is easier and faster than ever. There are lots of mobile apps that allow you to type in the name of a business into your phone and quickly pull up customer reviews about it. From the standpoint of small business owners, positive reviews are very beneficial to how others perceive a business before actually visiting it. When customers write about their fantastic experiences, it can be quite convincing that a company at-hand is the best option to go with. Experts say word-of-mouth referrals are at the top of the list for marketing strategies. Reviews from real people are exactly what others like to see.
Like most things, you have to take some bad along with the good. This is so true for the world of online reviews, Bert Seither says. If someone writes a negative review about your small business, it can be extremely damaging. People inherently put more weight into a negative review versus a positive one. Plus, it can be tough – and impossible in many cases – to moderate these reviews. If a competitor or ex-employee writes something bad about your company, there may be no way to remove it from the web. This unfiltered ability to put anything on a review site anonymously is a major drawback.
Increasing positive online reviews
There are a few things you can do to increase the number of positive things that people write about your company on the Internet. Give happy customers a link to a review site, and offer them an incentive for posting a positive testimonial. Enable the reviews feature on your company’s Facebook page, and encourage your fans to use it. Building ongoing relationships with your satisfied customers is critical to having them spread the good things about what you offer to their friends, family, and online users.
What it all means
The most effective way to ensure the reputation of your business is strong in the online review realm is to be honest, trustworthy, and conduct your business with integrity. You can’t prevent someone from writing something negative, but you can make every effort to be certain that no customer ever has a bad experience with you. This means using the best practices and making smart decisions on how you do things. According to Bert Seither, it’s usually the small business owners who try to cover things up and fail to meet the expectations of their customers who can get in hot water through bad online reviews. As far as what you can do, occasionally search for your business name on Google and check out what is out there. If you see good things, you should be in good shape. If you see negative comments, use them as motivation to work harder each day. If you don’t find anything, just remember that you likely will in the near future if your business continues to prosper.