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  • Eric Rubin

Online Reviews: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Plainly put, people are influenced by reviews. Customers can easily go online to compare businesses. In today’s online world, an unhappy customer can influence thousands of people with a bad review. Questions every business must ask itself is:

How can I avoid bad reviews? How can I work towards getting only good reviews?


The Top Two Review Sites:

Google

It is possible to respond in writing to any review on Google. Although negative reviews are not desired, they are also not terrible. The ranking factor with Google is “more reviews = better ranking” and it doesn't matter if they are positive or negative. In fact, research shows that a company with only 5-Star glowing reviews is trusted less than a company with “fluctuation” in their overall review score. A negative review is also an opportunity to publicly show how you respond and want to “make things right” for a disappointed customer. The only person who can remove or edit a negative review is the reviewer.


Google collects and counts your business reviews from other websites to help decide where you should be ranked, but they no longer display those reviews and they no longer add those reviews to your total review count. For this reason, some businesses have seen their quantity of reviews diminish recently. They are still counted, but the count is no longer displayed.


Yelp

Along with Google, Yelp is one of the most popular review directories. You do not need to participate on Yelp to receive reviews, however we recommend all businesses claim their profile in order to respond to negative reviews and provide relevant, up-to-date information to searchers.


Relevancy, user voting, quantity, and quality are all primary ranking factors on how Yelp sorts its search results. If you recently received a glowing review from someone who just created an account on Yelp and this is the only review they have ever written, Yelp will most likely “filter out” that review in place of reviews by avid Yelp users known to write all kinds of reviews, not just 5 star ones. It may seem arbitrary, but what they are doing is trying to give the consumer an honest picture of each business. If your business has no reviews, you will simply rank lower than competitors with reviews.


Filtering rules are the same for every business and every review. The filter sometimes affects perfectly legitimate reviews and misses some fake ones. The filter continually reevaluates its decisions as new reviews come in and information is updated. As a result, it's fairly common to see reviews come and go. Either way, business owners should probably focus less on any one review and more on their entire body of reviews. Reviewers, in turn, should contribute to the site and give the filter a chance to get to know them over the long-term. Click here for answers to all Yelp questions.


How To Solicit Good Reviews & Respond To Bad Ones

The reality is that you don’t need reviews to pour in. If you get one review every month or two, you will have 30 reviews after 3 years. Stop worrying about how many were “lost” or “filtered.” You need to plow ahead and keep gaining endorsements across the Internet.  In the end, if you run a good business and have loyal customers you will get your share of reviews.


Follow up with customers immediately. Call and/or an email to be sure that all went as planned. Identify problems early on so you can correct them before they become complaints.


Make complaining easy. Build a culture that is truly ready to receive the complaint. Train your staff to not be defensive and to solve most problems immediately.


Provide a complaint form on your Website. This allows unhappy customers to complain and makes it clear to potential customers that you are ready to listen. Be sure to follow up quickly and try to resolve it. Nothing rankles a customer like waiting for a return phone call.


Respond to negative reviews online. Once the issue is resolved, return to the offending review and close the loop. Sometimes, an appropriate response to a negative review can get the negative review removed. Customers may then leave a positive review after receiving a response to their bad review. Have a layered process in place for dealing with bad reviews.


Build A Review Process

Put in place a review process that gives customers lots of choice, generates reviews at a wide range of sites and is easy to implement. Keep it ethical and simple and you will find that you will get the reviews at Google and Yelp you desire.

1 - Tell customers what to expect with the review process.

2 - Provide choices and let customers decide where to write a review.


The key takeaway is to personalize the letter and let the customer choose to review or not to review.

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