An insight into online reviews. By Rosemary Rogers of Reallymoving.com
Do you believe online reviews or do you have a sneaky suspicion that someone has given them a helping hand? Do you want your customers to see the good, the bad and the ugly?
A recent survey by social commerce company Reevoo found that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% of users suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see anything negative at all.
That’s a tricky statistic to swallow when it’s your own business that’s at stake.
In the last century a set of photocopied and laminated hand written letters was all that you needed to show potential clients. There was no question that your customers should ever get a whiff of any bad feedback on your company unless it was by Word Of Mouth. Nowadays there is a plethora of review sites, all offering differing levels of validation criteria and all found in different ways when searching online.
Review sites can be a minefield, and I think it’s safe to say that one of the world’s largest review sites - Trip Advisor - is reviled and respected in equal proportions. This site has come under fire for allowing damning reviews to be written and many hotels rue the day they ever got a mention on the website. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has recently forced Trip Advisor to stop claiming the reviews they publish are “trusted.” Trip Advisor responded robustly to the ASA stating that reviewers are asked to sign a declaration that their review is ‘genuine and honest’.
It is a well-known fact that customers will tell, on average, twice as many people about bad service than they will about good service. Having the internet at their fingertips makes publishing bad feedback even easier and more tempting if you really believe you have been ‘wronged’.
There are several websites that review removals firms. Some have star ratings that are now picked up by Google in searches, so the user can see the customer feedback instantly before they’ve even clicked through. This can be fantastic if you have a shiny five star rating. We know of many removals firms who convert jobs on the strength of their sizeable excellent feedback listings which can open doors that may have been shut before online feedback became so influential.
However, some review sites allow anybody to log on and add a review, whilst others are more stringent. As a removals firm, you will need to decide how to deal with these different styles of feedback websites. Remember that customers are also increasingly aware of how to ‘read’ a reviews website and they will also place greater importance on well moderated review sites.
Needless to say, any questionable feedback that you receive needs to be investigated internally so you can continue to build on and improve the service you are offering. We believe it is important that review websites allow a window of time for you to conduct an investigation before the feedback is published. This should provide you with the time to look into any complaint privately, deal with the customer privately and compose an appropriate public response if necessary.
The way in which you deal with negative reviews is another chance to show off your professionalism to potential customers. Replying with a kind and well-reasoned response ending with a positive suggested outcome can help the reader to feel confident to trust your company in the unlikely event that something does go wrong
To summarise, here is a list of top tips in dealing with online reviews and feedback:
- Set up a Google alert so that you are automatically sent an e-mail if your company name appears anywhere on any website.
- Remember that you do not need to suffer any review that is legally contentious, defamatory or breaches privacy. If any of these are included in a review, ask to have it removed immediately. The longer you wait, the more potential customers you lose.
- If you decide to sign up to an independent online review site, ensure it has a ‘right to reply’ facility.
- Have a look at some of the reviews sites. If you see a firm that has a bulge of reviews in a short space of time, you can guess that the owner of that business e-mailed all their mates for reviews, rather than the steady stream of genuine customers.
- Do you know whether each review is manually reviewed prior to publication? This can help to filter false reviews before they reach publication.
- Reply to any questionable feedback via the reviews site. Show that you are reasonable, list what reparations you can offer and explain why there may have been an issue. Refer the reader to the other excellent feedback you have received.
- Select a review site that has neat, easy to complete review services. Your customers are unlikely to spend more than 5 minutes clicking and completing forms online unless they have a grudge, which is not the type of review you want to encourage.
- If you are lucky enough to have a set of good online reviews, USE THEM! Include a link to your feedback in the footer of all your e-mails – set this up as part of your company signatory.
- Link from your website back to your specific reviews page, not the home page of the reviews site.
- 10. Tweet your good reviews via Twitter.com, add them to your Facebook account, Like them on Google+. Spread the love!
- 11. Remember to create plenty of opportunity for your customers to leave feedback. E-mail them a nice message after their move with the correct link, or leave a postcard at their new home with the correct website address.
Here is a list of some reviews sites; some will charge for the service: