The Value of Authentic Online Reviews

At the end of every month, I produce Online Reputation Reports for each of my NextGear Marketing blog package clients. Basically, I scan all review sites and pull reviews and ratings from that month. I compile them all into one simple report.

The reason I do this is because I want my clients to know everything that is being said about them online. Whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, it is important to stay in touch with your online reputation. Another goal is to encourage my clients to further encourage their customers to write more reviews.

Rarely will you find indifferent 3-star reviews online. Most people who want to speak out will only want to say positive things. Then, there is the other side of the spectrum—complainers who only want to write reviews when they have bad comments to make. Every once in awhile, you have to worry about “fake” reviews posted from competitors trying to bring you down. The negative reviews and ratings can’t be ignored, but they can be addressed.

Any time you have a negative review, use it as an opportunity to reach out to that person. Respond publicly if possible on the review platform, so others can see that you are proactively making an effort to rectify the situation. If a public response isn’t possible, at least reach out to them privately. If it is clearly a fake review, use a public response to call their comments into question. You have to do it tactfully, though. Still come from a position of rectification, but still let it be known that you don’t have their name in your client records. This is a subtle, yet effective way to show other users that this may not be a legitimate review.

Unfortunately, certain review sites that shall remain nameless (rhymes with “Help”) favor paying clients and filter out a lot of reviews/rating. As an avid golfer, there’s another similar site that comes to mind (rhymes with “schmolfadvisor”). You can always sort the list to show the most recent reviews first rather than their questionable “most relevant” reviews filter. Personally, I take all online reviews with a certain grain of salt, but more so on some sites than others.

The best way to combat negative reviews is with more positive reviews. The more you encourage customers to write online reviews, the more those negative comments and ratings get drowned out. Don’t resort to writing your own fake reviews. Authenticity is important and most savvy users can tell the difference between what is false and what is genuine. Just do everything you can to spark more reviews from all your happy customers/clients, and you will see your online reputation improve. This is what online reputation management is all about.

Odds are, most people willing to write reviews will have something positive to say. Even if 10% of reviews about your company are negative (which is a really high percentage), that means people are still seeing nine positive comments to every one negative comment. Those are good odds. By the way, if you are getting 10% or more in negative reviews, it’s time to rethink your customer service approach!

Encourage more reviews from your customers and ask them to be authentic. Have monthly drawings or offer future discounts to everyone who writes a review. This will spark more activity. More and more consumers are trusting online reviews before making their buying decisions, so use them to your advantage. Turn really good and detailed reviews into case studies and customer testimonial articles for your blog.

For more information about online reputation management or blogging with NextGear Marketing, contact us today.