Many small business owners still think that when it comes to online reviews, no news is good news. That might’ve been ok in the past but it is not anymore: In our modern, social-media amplified world, businesses live and die by their online reputation. One persistent voice can do irreparable – and sometimes fatal – damage to your business.
Just like you wouldn’t take an insurance policy after you’ve been in an accident, you need to manage and protect your company’s online reputation proactively.
Consider these two scenarios where an unhappy (justified or not) customer gives a scathing review worth one-star.
Company XYZ has 50 reviews with four-star average. A one-star review would drop the average only down to 3.94, which still would be rounded up to an even four.
Company XYZ has only 5 reviews with a similar four-star average. That same one-star review would drop the average down to 3.5. That is a 12.5% drop – caused by just one person. The math is not on your side: when the overall number of reviews is small, one bad review can affect your overall score disproportionally.
Now can you imagine if your unethical competitor gets a dozen of their friends to give bad reviews for your business? The results can be catastrophic. Yes it’s unethical and reprehensible but it happens. And crying wolf doesn’t help you when the damage is already done. Therefore it’s very important that you, as a business owner, get in front of it.
“Why can’t I just ask 10 friends to leave me a good review?“
This is not something you want to do for several reasons:
- It’s just as unethical as leaving a bad review for your competitor
- If you get caught (and you just might), you will be seen as a certified liar.
- Fake reviews tend to be a little too good, and many people can smell one a mile away.
- Most importantly: It’s just not right. Plain and simple.
“OK, we get it. But how do I get started with managing my online reputation?“
The good news is it’s not hard. It’s actually a pretty simple numbers game. In a nutshell: You want to make sure that good reviews far outweigh the negative ones. This way the occasional (and maybe even deserved) bad review will blend in with the mass and won’t drag your overall score down. Your audience will likely write it off as an unhappy, grumpy person rather than hold it against you. In fact, since no business is perfect, an occasional less-than-five-star review will make the overall mix look even more credible.
As long as your customer service and product are solid: It’s “ok” to ask your clients to leave a good review. It can be as simple as training your employees to say “Hey, if you were happy with our service today, would you mind leaving us a review online?” As long as your business has earned it, there’s nothing embarrassing about asking for one. And you’d be surprised how many will be willing to do it as long as you ask.
The key is to make it easy for the customer. You’re asking them for a favor, after all. You can use your point-of-sale software to add links to your social media sites at the bottom of your receipts. You can print business cards with links (maybe even QR codes) to your preferred social media properties with a request to leave a good review. If you run a restaurant, you can ask your servers to give one of those cards to your customers with the check for example.
Make sure you start right away
Every passing day makes you more vulnerable to negative reviews, and they can hurt your business. Inaction is no longer an option. Therefore offense is your best defense. Not doing anything can hurt your and your business’s bottom line.
Get started. Now.