The Validity of On-Line Reviews
Ohhh the dreaded negative on-line review. Now I know this might shock you – given the delightful personality that is ME and my brand – but yes, even I have received a negative on-line review (or two) over the years. No, I’m not whining about it (okay maybe a little) and I appreciate honest constructive feedback but sitting in my “business owner” chair, I also see the big picture.
Behold the power of the internet and 5 little stars. Most people know that a five star review can help a business. Most people also know that a 1 star “This place is horrible!” review can hurt a business. I bet that we could agree that for most people to take the time to make any kind of review on-line they would have to feel pretty passionately about something – positive or negative. Therefore, most people are going to post either a 5 star or a 1 star comment. But let’s explore this further…shall we?
Most people who legitimately experience 5 star service, unfortunately, do not take the time to tell others about it. I mean you really like the place, but gosh…time is on short supply these days and well, you just forgot. Sure most people are good intentioned so they mean too and they certainly would mention it if the subject comes up, but they typically won’t go out of their way to make a post on-line telling the world about their awesome experience. HOWEVER, if they feel they’ve been WRONGED…now that’s another story.
We love to tear people down (just ask Lindsay Lohan) and it is just so easy to do it. We can use our real name or just make an anonymous comment. When tempers are high and emotions raw we go onto the internet to “warn” anyone that will listen instead of notifying the store, the management, the owner or even the Better Business Bureau that there WAS a problem.
Competitors are also keenly aware of the direct impact a negative review can do to another business and so are disgruntled ex-employees. You can bet that some engage in “review warfare” to help snuff out the competition. Again, it’s just so easy. Anyone with an email address can create a fake account and make it seem legitimate.
Truth be told, not even all of those POSITIVE reviews are real. Of course MINE are (it’s an integrity thing). But, some companies do recruit the help of their employees, friends and family and even pay people to post fake 5 star glowing reviews. Shocking right? Not really. They have figured out that the total number of reviews drive up their placement on search engines like Google, Yahoo, Yellow Pages, etc. Why does that matter? Paid advertising is VERY expensive (I know…I pay for it). By placing fake reviews these companies do two things. One, they add “credibility” to their business by posting positive comments about themselves. Two, the total of reviews bumps up their visibility and therefore their ability to attract new victims customers.
Long story short, because I DO care, it DOES bother me when I get a bad review. Being a small business owner, it also HURTS. It hurts my reputation, which hurts my company and if it hurts my company then it hurts my employees, and because we are a family business, it hurts my family (and NOBODY is allowed to hurt my family but me).
Given that there is so much hurting going on maybe before you post a negative on-line review you could take a deep breath and consider what you are doing. These reviews stick around FOREVER and once you’ve had a glass of wine and calmed down you might feel differently. If you do and you already DID make that post, then remember to go back and include an update.
Finally, before being so quick to believe ANY on-line review perhaps time should be taken to consider the source of the review. Did their Mom write it? Does it sound fair or just mean spirited? IS IT IN ALL CAPS? What specifically was the complaint? Did the company respond? When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask about it and get their explanation. If they seem reputable and appear to be long standing in the community dig a little deeper and check other reference sources such as the BBB. After all, a trusted service provider is hard to find and putting in a little effort to find a good one can pay off for years to come.
Copyright © 2011 Help Me!!® Tech Team, a division of HELP ME!!® Computers, LLC
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