Businesses around the world are turning towards online reviews as a marketing strategy. In this digital age, with open platforms of communication, growing numbers of consumers use online reviews to research before they buy. While reviews can help consumers gather insider intel on the company or product they can also open the door for illegitimate or negative reviews which can damage reputations and turn customers away.
If online reviews factor heavily into a consumer’s decision-making about a business then it’s important to ensure that as many customers as possible are leaving positive comments. It essentially equates to free advertising and is a good way to drum up new business.
The best way to booster your positive ratings is by encouraging customers who are happy with your product or service to write a review. Many people will happily do so but only after they are asked. Getting your timing right, however, is key. The most obvious time is straight after they experience success with your product or service. But other opportunities to look out for include repeat customers, customers that tag your brand on social media or those who refer others to your business.
It’s hard to escape negative reviews from customers with a reasonably valid complaint or even an unreasonable rant. And for small businesses with a small number of online reviews, a negative comment can taint their overall star rating. However, there are still things you can do to put the ball back in your court.
- Respond quickly: it’s important to deal with negative comments promptly to avoid escalation to show the reviewer and others that you’re serious about addressing their concerns.
- Be polite and professional: don’t personally react to a negative review. Just like in other business correspondence respond in a polite and professional manner to help to mitigate the emotion.
- Do your homework: depending on the amount of information provided by the reviewer, you should find out as much as you can about the transaction to find a resolution. You can also ask them to send you a direct message with further details to help take the conversation away from the public review panel.
- Improve your rating: work on boosting your positive reviews to counterbalance any negative ones.
Unfortunately, some businesses are unfairly targeted with false reviews submitted by non-customers or competitors, which can be damaging to a business’s reputation. Many businesses are also unaware that false reviews, unlike negative reviews from past customers, can be re-moved.
Removify has been dealing with ‘keyboard warriors’ – individuals who behave aggressively or inflammatorily in an online text-based discussion – since 2007. The company’s team of experts specialises in the removal of illegitimate reviews.
Removify says 88 per cent of consumers read online reviews as a guide when making a decision, and 94 per cent of consumers avoid businesses with negative reviews. This is why it’s vital to remove fake or misleading content to ensure that your business presents positively online.
Andrew Whitford, founder of Removify, presented a webinar full of tips and tricks to HIA members in August. The webinar discusses the following topics:
- the importance of reviews and the impact they have on businesses, both positive and negative
- common triggers and themes for negative reviews in the building industry
- the importance of asking customers for feedback
- how to intercept negativity before it becomes public
- the different types of negative reviews and how to approach them
- how to remove false reviews.
However, while fake reviews on open platforms can be removed some closed groups make it impossible to control comments made. HIA has made representations to the ACCC about the activities of these groups but solutions remain elusive.
If you missed the live webinar, a recording is available on the HIA website.