February 13, 2012

Sharing is Caring … Or is it?

BY John Paul Narowski IN Customer Service, Small Business 0 Comment

Online marketing is a robust opportunity abundant arena in which a company can improve its ROI with a proper effort. There are pitfalls in the social media world as well and could damage a reputation with a single misstep.

The online community is very vocal about bad service and through many social media sites can express their opinion to the detriment of a company. Consumers relate to the reviews and make purchasing decisions accordingly. And it is a fact that consumers trust reviews more than celebrity endorsements.

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.

As long as the reviews weigh in at around eight out of ten in the positive direction, you should be fine.  There will always be complainers, but if your business pursues quality and reliability, you will gain respect in your industry.

And next time you are frustrated, ready to post a clenched-fist rant, try getting a good night’s sleep before you hit the keyboard. Or at least balance out your rant by recalling a moment of good service.

Guest Post Author:

The University of San Francisco, in partnership with University Alliance, has provided this article. The University of San Francisco offers higher education opportunities through a variety of online marketing courses, including internet marketing and advanced social media. To see additional information please visit http://www.usanfranonline.com

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

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