February 13, 2012
Sharing is Caring … Or is it?If you shop online or use online services, you have probably wanted to either thoroughly complain or positively rave at some point. In the online world, you can state your opinion with relative anonymity and ease. The question arises … how much is your review actually worth? Perhaps reviews are generally trusted—or not. For the small business owner, reviews may be cumbersome. We all know that a negative message speaks a thousand words whereas a positive one can seem to flutter in the wind.
How can small businesses deal with negative reviews?According to www.brightlocal.com, 67% of online users trust reviews from strangers as much as they trust reviews from people they know. However, as companies realize the necessity for getting reviews, some questionable business has entered the scene. Entrepreneurs are online and offering their services as positive reviewers, even if they’ve never heard of the product. Some companies offer the service of paying for reviews, but they advise their reviewers that if their feelings on the product are not positive, no review is needed. Cornell researchers have tried to study this ethical dilemma, creating software programs to automatically detect fake reviews. In some cases, these programs can detect the fakers—those who are so vague in wording that it is unlikely the product was actually experienced. However, determining fakers can be more difficult in some industries than in others. In the area of reviews, large companies may have better statistics than small ones. By receiving multiple reviews, their stats are more trustworthy. But this does not mean they’re good! At www.customerservicesscoreboard.com, you can see how businesses score in terms of reviews. Only thirty-nine companies out of four hundred and ninety-three rated as acceptable or better in customer service—only eight percent. Among those who scored high are Nordstrom, Kmart and Nintendo while those who scored the worst included Atari, Facebook and Twitter. Clearly the online techie companies are not as well-versed in actual human chatting as are the sellers of clothing, though the video game industry fills the spectrum from end to end. While large companies can divert the effects of negative reviews with national TV commercials, small businesses have to wrestle against more difficult odds. The best tips for handling negative reviews are these:
- See if you can correct the offense. If you can, contact the reviewer and ask the person to write a new post.
- Be proactive. Encourage people to provide reviews that honor your efforts.
- Don’t let one bad review get to you. Think in terms of percentage.