Friday 28 July 2017

Businesses abandon independent review sites

Businesses - especially those in high-value services such as estate agency and wealth management - are abandoning independent review sites in numbers.

Why? Because...

  • human nature: people are so much more motivated to write a negative review than a positive one; this means that a business that in reality has less than one or two per cent of its customers unhappy with its service might easily have anything up to twenty per cent of its reviews saying damagingly negative (and not always factually correct) things about it on any given reviews site - and served for all to see in Google search
  • why pay to look bad? It's bad enough that unhappy customers - or disgruntled ex-staff or even competitors - can post to Google and other open sites (Yelp, TrustPilot, TripAdvisor and so on) but to pay to have your business's reputation harmed - no thank you!

We are seeing increasing instances of the love affair between these sites and businesses waning. Here are some numbers from just three such businesses:

 the figures for both years are annualised to ensure equivalence

As the businesses in question have realised the potential for harm - especially considering that the businesses in question have been hosting feeds on their own websites - the businesses have begun taking action... grass roots: their staff have stopped requesting reviews head office or management level: review feeds on the business's own sites have been discontinued

Our advice

 So many independent solutions have the potential to end up like this - and all it would have taken to prevent the business's reputation being put at long-term risk of significant harm was one call to us

We have consistently warned readers of this blog of the various pitfalls and disadvantages of relying on independent reviews sites (read this and this and this).

It is important that businesses see review management as a discipline that needs to be taken just as seriously as any other form of marketing - and paid for accordingly. Far too many businesses have fallen for 'free trial' blandishments from some reviews sites and not looked to the long-term (or, in the cases highlighted above - not so long-term) consequences of choosing the wrong solution.

There are also the - very important - Competition and Markets Authority regulations to be considered - and so many independent solutions fall foul of these in one way or another as well.

All in all - just speak to us (especially those of you already using an independent review site). You don't have to spend a penny to do that - and you may easily end up saving your business's hard-won reputation into the bargain. At the very least you will be forewarned and forearmed.

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