Saturday 29 April 2017

Is your business sitting on a reviews timebomb?

There are two kinds of businesses that take a passive view of reviews - the first, and most obvious, is the business that has never been reviewed. The second is, somewhat ironically,  the business that has loads of reviews.

Both are sitting on time-bombs - but for markedly different reasons. We will explain...

The business with no (or very few) reviews

  An example of a large business - 500 plus employees - in the service sector that has yet to engage with reviews. With only two positives the business is vulnerable to any dissatisfied customer who decides to post a review. Nor is it benefiting from the positive image that professional review management would engender in search.

Seven months ago this business had no reviews, then one and now look:

We are not going to show the content of these twenty-three reviews as that would be unfair to the business concerned, but rest assured they are not the kind of reviews that would encourage any potential customer to use it

These businesses tend to fall into one or more of the following categories:
  • small businesses
  • larger businesses in the service sector
  • B2B businesses

Why would these businesses ignore - or, more accurately, decide not to engage with reviews? The answer, again, falls into one or more of the following:
  • it has simply not occurred to them. About half the businesses we meet fall into this category - reviews have not made it onto their marketing radar
  • they have considered reviews, but were put off by the confusing array of solutions
  • they have adopted a solution in the past, but it failed to produce results
  • management cynicism. Less common now than it used to be, but we do still encounter managers who say things like 'Who pays attention to reviews?' and/or 'What kind of idiots write reviews?' or 'I'm far too busy to write a review, so why should any of my customers be any different?'

Why should they engage?
  • because reviews drive business
  • because a single negative can cause considerable - and disproportionate - harm to a business with no - or few - reviews. By its very nature it is highly visible and therefore damaging. Many of our inbound enquiries are from businesses in this situation - the phone had stopped ringing and they didn't understand why, until someone checked Google

The business with many reviews

Again - the categories:
  • hospitality - hotel, restaurant and leisure businesses
  • national businesses with a branch network
  • multi-national businesses

Why would these businesses ignore - or, more accurately, decide not to engage with - reviews? Besides the reasons mentioned above...
  • many hospitality businesses are so familiar with reviews that they have become 'review blind' they ignore them - if they didn't more than the 12% of hotels that TripAdvisor quotes would respond to their reviews
  • they are aware that they get reviews, but they are unaware of the impact those reviews are having on custom (rarely will a customer tell a business why they did not use them - customers simply don't contact businsses to say that they were put off by the business's reviews)

Why should they engage?

For all the reasons above and then one more: look at this example:

Hidden behind the headline score are the following:
  • 12 one or two star reviews - the kind that say 'don't ever use this business'
  • 14 three star reviews - the kind that say 'I used this business but there are better alternatives'
  • damaging review content about the products or services the company provides - and is trying to sell - to those reading the reviews
  • failure to pass the Google Filter* - more and more consumers are conducting the overwhelming majority of their searches on mobile and tablet - and Google has introduced their filter there, enabling users to filter
But just as importantly, the more reviews a business has the more it will need to improve its score. In the example above the business will need six or seven five star reviews - and no more 3, 2 or 1 star reviews - to claw its score back to 4.0 (and therefore pass the Google filter). 

And in this example the challenge to pass the filter (and reduce the proportion of damaging negative reviews) is greater by a factor of ten - because of the mathematical hill the business has to climb before scoring (at least) 4.0.

Whichever category your business falls into your aim...

...should be to have your business scoring 4.8. This business joined HelpHound with two Google reviews and a score of 3.2:

...and this business joined with eight Google reviews and a score of 2.6...

In addition these businesses respectively host 124 and 495 independently verified reviews on their own websites.

Our advice

Get on board - by using professional review management. Don't sign up to the first review site that calls you - or attempt a DIY solution - speak to HelpHound first. Then you will end up looking like the two businesses above.

*Read this - it explains the Google review filter. We occasionally hear people say that they don't think consumers use the filter. Our answer to that? If Google introduce something and their users don't use it they discontinue it. The Filter was introduced eighteen months ago and it remains - that means it's being used.

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