Tuesday 21 April 2020

ABC of Reviews: 3. What if your business does nothing?

Behind this question invariably lurks that dreaded emotion: fear. A perfectly rational fear born out of the experience of reading reviews of other businesses, that by engaging with reviews your disgruntled customers (and we all have them!) will impact and even dominate your business's reputation. It is this fear that must be addressed before any steps are taken along the road to effective review management.

So here are some answers:

Note: we have used the medical profession to illustrate this article for two main reasons: firstly, consumers place a very high value upon reviews of medical services and secondly because some business people think 'my relationship with my customers/clients/patients/guests is so personal they won't want to write a review' and you don't get a relationship any more personal than that between a medical practitioner and their patient.

1.  Exactly that - nothing - may be the result. It will, initially at least, result in your business looking like this in search...

 But do be aware that Google will helpfully display these five suggestions immediately underneath where the business's reviews, if it had any, would normally be (you might be surprised to learn just how many searchers believe these have been hand-picked by Google on a subjective basis):

2. Some of your really happy customers - rarely many (just think for a minute, how many Google reviews have you personally written unprompted?) - will go ahead and write reviews anyway, so you will look like this...

3. Your worst fears will be realised anyway. Remember that anyone can write a Google review at any time, they don't need your permission...

4. Your business will begin to lag even further behind your competitors in local search...

...and note that searchers are able to select a minimum score to narrow their choice down to highly-rated businesses, in this case, those scoring 4.5 or higher (see 'rating' right under the Google logo). We soon expect them to refine this further to include both rating and a minimum number of reviews).

5. Most important of all, your business will miss out on looking like this...

This recent client of ours specialises in treating women for issues arising from the unpleasant side-effects of the menopause. It is hard to think of a more personal issue upon which to write a review yet these women have realised what a huge benefit they provide for their fellow sufferers by doing so. If you take the time to read the reviews themselves - google the Harper Clinic, we promise what you see there will prove to be a real eye-opener - you will see just how powerful even a small number of well-written and relevant reviews can be.

So: doing nothing is almost certain to expose your business to negative reviews as well as depriving your business of a really powerful marketing opportunity. All businesses should engage, the only question - which will be comprehensively answered in this series of articles - is 'how?'.

Some statistics:

The following chart is taken from an in-depth study made by three professors at Columbia University in 2019:

What it shows, for Yelp - an open reviews platform very much like Google - is that, while most customers (67%) write positive reviews a significant number (19%) will write less complimentary - and potentially harmful - reviews. Without a resilient review management strategy in place, a business risks 'conforming to the norm' with a review profile such as this. 

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