Everything You Need to Know About Online Reviews

In last week’s “week in review” post, I took a stab at placing Yelp and the BBB in the same playing field with regards to what they do, from a business’s perspective. The BBB used to be the third party authority on whether or not a company was trustworthy. But with the rise of online reviews, and social media, the authority on whether or not a company is trustworthy is found in the direct experiences of other people (consumers).

So what’s the reason for having the BBB?

I won’t spend an entire post asking that question. Instead, let’s focus on the online reviews. Online reviews are everywhere:

  • Yelp
  • Amazon
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Your website
  • Forums and discussion boards
  • Ordering platforms like Seamless
  • Anywhere else people interact online

Most reviews are outside of your control. All that you can do is service your customers at the highest level, work to ensure you don’t get a lot of negative reviews, and respond when you do.

But you can also encourage positive reviews to offset some of the negative reviews you’re bound to get. You can use links in email signatures, a form on your site, and social media pages to direct your happy customers to post reviews for you. The more positive reviews exist for your company, the more likely people will trust that you follow through on the marketing promises that you make.

And positive reviews are there for you to incorporate into your marketing. Many companies today use real customer experiences to help convince new customers. You can use testimonials in your promotional materials, and post reviews on your website.

At the end of the day it is all about trust and reputation. Consumers trust other consumers more than they trust marketers. So encourage positive reviews and address negative reviews in order to keep those consumers forever in your favor!

Incentivizing Reviews – Country Inn and Suites

I had reason to be in the suburbs of Savannah, GA last week and had the good fortune to be staying at the Country Inn & Suites. While this post is not a commentary on the pleasantness of my stay, I will say that it was quite nice.

But when I got the bill for the room delivered the morning of my planned checkout, the marketer in me leaped for joy at what I saw:

As you can see from the images above (apologies for the poor quality), the hotel stapled a Trip Advisor card to the bill asking for reviews of the hotel. This is brilliant (assuming everyone’s stay was as pleasant as mine).

Those of you who read my blog often may remember a few posts on incentives that I wrote two years ago. And while this is not an incentive, it certainly is a polite request that is sure to get more positive reviews of this hotel than the absence of this card would get.

I’m not sure if this is something Trip Advisor dreamed up to get more people to their site over competitors’, or if this is something the hotel dreamed up to get people to write reviews. But it works for both. And I give this bit of marketing an A+.

The Problem with Today’s Consumers

…is that they think they’re entitled to everything.

They think that Twitter can be used to express their disappointment with your products. They think that Facebook is a good way of getting in touch with your customer service department. They think that a good reason for a discount is that they once saw a special promotion that may or may not have ended months ago.

They think that they have the right to ask for more than you’re offering. They think that they have the right to try out your product before they buy it.

And here’s the problem, they’re right. For the first time, consumers are in control.

We’ve all heard the saying, the customer is always right. The internet has made that truer than ever before.

Sure, you can put a policy in place. You can say, we only deal with customer service issues that come in through this channel or that channel. You can say that you only offer discounts on your products for a limited time and after the deadline is up, too bad. You can say that our products are what they are, and we won’t change them for any one customer.

But your competitors are already giving in to every single customer request. And if you don’t follow, you risk losing business.