Pros and Cons of Online Reviews
Synopsis: whether you operate a B2B or B2C business, online review systems like Google and Yelp can be powerful tools to boost your online profile.
Why are they important?
If you have a strong online presence, you may have received a phone call like this “Hi, I’ve been looking for a [insert your business here], and in my search I found your company with 5 star Google reviews. Your clients had a lot of good things to say! Can you tell me more about your services?”
Word of mouth referrals are the most powerful form of lead generation and tend to be among the highest for conversions. Think about the last purchase you made, was it verified by the stamp of approval of a friend or family member who had prior exposure to that brand? In today’s digital economy, an online review is a form of referral by word of mouth, but with a significantly greater reach.
Are all reviews created equal? Are they always good for your business? How do you ensure they don’t work against you?
Let’s start with the drawbacks.
1. Negative reviews can have a detrimental impact on your business because it is very difficult to remove reviews on public forums (many times it is not even possible). You are at the mercy of what reviewers write. Individuals who are comparing options for services will search your business online, not only to see what your website looks like, but also to see what other people have to say about you. If your recent reviews are bad, they are likely going to move on to an alternative option.
2. The most vocal customers are those who are upset and are left with negative emotions. How often did you find yourself saying, “Wow, I had such a great experience. I’m going to leave them an online review!” I bet your answer is never. But when you are left with a bad taste in your mouth, you want everyone in the world to know NOT to make the same mistake. Negative reviews tend to be more biased than positive reviews. In fact, Airbnb has recently updated their policy to ensure their review system remains fair by requiring all possibly biased reviews to be re-evaluated.
3. Negative reviews can weigh down your overall reviews. While not all platforms are implementing Airbnb’s system, it is expected that you will at some point receive one or two poor reviews from a person who had a bad experience. Be careful, because those reviews will lower your average rating. Each platform has its own way of determining the weight of a review. Some factors include the age of a rating, whether the ratings are from verified customers, and the reviewer’s trustworthiness (i.e. if they have reviewed other businesses or products and are active online).
As a serial optimist, I can’t help but feel that negative reviews can be a really good thing, if you care about your business. It’s an opportunity to turn your most vocal haters into brand ambassadors. Offer these people discounts and credit for an opportunity to re-experience your property once you’ve taken their feedback into consideration. A business owner needs to think like a brand. In our line of business, we always ask our customers to provide feedback (the bad privately and the good publicly), so that we can improve. The goal is to never hear the same constructive feedback twice. Was it really noisy in the shared space? We hear you. Not only will we set quiet hours, but we’ll install white noise machines and provide ear plugs in bedrooms.
What are the benefits of a review system?
As exemplified above, it can help create organic leads for your business leading to more conversions/ rentals.
Search algorithms like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. take into account public reviews to boost the SEO of your site, bringing it to the top.
Public review systems are a form of social proof. Would you buy a product that has 3 stars on Amazon? Probably not, especially if there are other options. Why should it be any different for a B2B business?
To conclude, ASK your customers for reviews. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive!
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