Online reviews matter: the good and bad

Do online reviews matter?

Imagine for a moment that you are not an entrepreneur. Instead, you are just a person, living your simple, non-stressful life, getting ready to undertake a home renovation project. A brand new bathroom perhaps, with custom tilework and a fancy glass shower door. You flip through the phone book for the name and number of a nearby architect/contractor/plumber. You call them today, hire them tomorrow. Easy peasy. The new bathroom should be done in a few weeks. Riiight?

Does this scenario seem somehow ridiculous? Of course it does! No one flips through phone books anymore and your imaginary self forgot to read the online reviews of said architect/contractor/plumber. These days, that’s just absurd. Very few people make purchasing decisions without consulting business reviews first. According to a Pew Research Center report on online reviews, only 4% of adults ages 18-29, and 8% ages 30-49, never look at online reviews when buying something for the first time.

Online reviews provide a quick and easy way to hone in on a consumer’s best option. Glancing at a rating is a fast, low-cost way to put in their due diligence on a product or company. With so much customer choice, and the relative ease of finding online reviews, consumers feel remiss if they don’t consult business reviews before making a purchasing decision. Gone are the days when consumers chalk up a terrible experience to bad luck because they simply didn’t know any better. Knowledge is at the consumer’s fingertips and they have learned to do the digging.

You should care about online review management, because consumers read online reviews. Control your destiny with a 5starRocket account, and let them read on! Your product and customer service will speak for itself. Or will it? As it turns out, not exactly. The Pew study also found that only 1 in 10 Americans “nearly always” post their reviews of a recently purchased product or service. Most happy customers simply walk away satisfied. You want to guess why people voluntarily end up posting a business review most of the time? Here’s a hint: it’s not because they were happy. Annoying, but true.

Here’s why, in a nutshell. Events perceived as negative are more impactful on the human brain than equivalently scaled events that are perceived as positive. Roy Baumeister et al. reviewed a plethora of psychological studies in his paper entitled “Bad is Stronger than Good.” They all point to the same generally accepted conclusion – bad experiences make a bigger impression than good ones. Getting your oil changed at Jiffy Lube in a timely manner is not likely to make your day. It certainly won’t make your highlight reel for the week. However, experience bad or unexpectedly slow service at that very same Jiffy Lube, and not only are you unlikely to go back, but you will tell all of your friends to save themselves the headache as well. Off you go to write your very first online review. Yes, you should care about online review management.

Not only will your bad experience be lodged in your brain for a good long while, but the story of your bad experience is actually stickier in other people’s minds as well. Other people’s sad stories are more influential than other people’s run-of-the-mill good experience stories. The Pew study verified this exact phenomenon when it comes to reading online reviews, with the majority of Americans that read reviews confirming that they pay more attention to bad business reviews than to good ones. How do you handle a bad review?

All of this to say that managing your company’s online reputation management is an uphill battle. You can’t be a passive participant in this game. Winning the online review management game requires a strong offense and defense. 5starRocket will help you find your customer stories and make them work for you.

Winning the Online Review Game with 5starRocket

The Offense: Finding Your Customer Stories

The offensive strategy is relatively simple: solicit as many reviews as possible and publish them everywhere. There is power in numbers, especially when it comes to your online reputation, for three very important reasons.

First, reviews get you noticed online. Reviews may not directly influence your ranking in an organic Google search, i.e. it is possible to be listed underneath a competitor with fewer reviews than you have, but over the long term they do indirectly affect it. Some people like reviews so much that they will click on your business because of your number of online reviews, even if you aren’t listed first. As long as you have good content, so the reader doesn’t then return to the original search, Google takes notice and will consequently increase your listing rank.

Second, you need lots of good business reviews to counteract the bad ones. Andrew Thomas, founder of Skybell Video Doorbell, talks about his company’s experience with reviews in his article, “The Hidden Ratio that Could Make or Break Your Company.” He lays out a pretty compelling argument that it takes about 40 good customer experiences to counteract the damage done by one bad online review.

Third and most importantly, you need reviews to better your business. You can’t grow and learn without proper customer feedback. That is the ultimate end game, isn’t it? You want to provide your customer with a superior product and experience. Celebrating the good reviews, and choking down the tougher ones, will in fact make you stronger. A strong business means repeat customers, and those are much cheaper to retain, than converting get than new customers.

The Defense: Dealing with Negative Online Reviews

The defensive strategy is to catch the bad reviews to diffuse, and possibly rectify, the situation. You have an unhappy customer and they are ready to shout it from the rooftops. You need to hear them loud and clear as soon as possible. 5starRocket will help funnel the reviews straight to you, or alert you to their presence online immediately.

A negative online review serves two purposes. First, it lets the unhappy customer say what they need to say. Remember, bad experiences tend to fester. Writing a negative review allows the customer to release some of the negativity they now associate with your business.

Second, it is the beginning of a dialogue between your company and the unhappy customer. It gives you the chance to change their mind, and the minds of people that will read the review in the future. According to a survey on customer service by Dimensional Research, most people reporting a “good customer service experience” in regard to a problem said the experience positively influenced their future behavior. They continued to do business with the company and/or they recommended the product/service to others. Additionally, studies have shown that responses to negative online reviews in a public forum tend to increase the total number of reviews and the overall rating.

Reviews hold tremendous power in getting your business noticed and selected out of a heap of competitors. You need online reviews, and lots of them. They will not all be good, but hiding from them is not the answer. Finding all the good ones and dealing with the bad ones is a much more effective approach. Think about how many times you have typed “restaurant” into Google maps and panned through the reviews. It is literally the difference between you going, and not going to that establishment. Food for thought.

See our online review management features and create an account today to take control of your online reputation.