Company reviews on Google or Facebook can increasingly determine the success or failure of a business. Negative reviews can damage a reputation, but the lack of them will also be suspect. How do you have more positive reviews on Google or Facebook, but getting them honestly?
We all probably know what Google or Facebook reviews are. I don’t know about you, but I look for reviews on Google and Famous Doctor before I visit the dentist. Before I call a car service, I read reviews on Google and on Good Mechanic. And even before visiting a restaurant – I check out other guests’ experiences on Facebook and Google.
Why I do it. I don’t expect 100 percent satisfaction from all customers. However, I would like to avoid a clear-cut scam or a situation where I would be careless and end up with a scammer. Therefore, the more reviews a company has, the more reliable it usually is for me.
Usually, because three conditions must be met:
- positive opinions should dominate,
- recommendations received by the company must be credible,
- the company does not respond aggressively to negative reviews.
Why buying reviews is bad?
Some entrepreneurs and managers take shortcuts. They approach the subject assuming that if their success should depend on the customers’ reviews, then they can buy a few, a dozen, or several dozen opinions and that’s it. Unfortunately, this leads to a situation in which sometimes whole industries are contaminated with false opinions issued by paid “customers”. Yes, unfortunately, I know such ones.
How can we recognize false opinions? It is simple! First of all, they are very general and not very specific. Their authors use phrases like “excellent service”, “great product”, “I will be back”. However, we will not find out what the person bought, with what specific service he or she is satisfied with, or how in detail the customer service went. More often than not, such reviews are dominated by generalities indicating that they barely glide across the surface…
There are even obvious mistakes – for example, in the case of a company offering long-term car rental, the “customer” wrote that she “used the services of this rental company many times”. So this person did not have even basic knowledge about the offer of the company, which he agreed to give a positive opinion.
Would you want someone to catch you and your company using similar practices? Even if you are not convinced by the ethical argument that by ordering fake reviews you pay for forgery and cheating your clients, maybe you will be convinced by the image argument. Purchased reviews, if discovered and disclosed, may jeopardize the reputation of your company. Even if you provide a high level of service, it will be hard for someone who catches you cheating to believe it.
Another interesting but not ethical practice is asking customers for feedback in exchange for a discount before they even use the service. I heard about a restaurant that tempted its guests with lower prices and encouraged them to give recommendations on Google or Facebook… before ordering a meal.
However, such a request may be perceived as an expression of the restaurant’s management’s fear of an authentic opinion given, for example, at the end of the visit. Doesn’t the owner or manager believe that guests can be satisfied even after having eaten what they were served?
Is the quality of what we, the entrepreneurs, do really so tragic that we have to resort to combining or outright cheating? I hope not, though.
How to solicit opinions honestly and effectively?
Companies that care about honest customer relations also strive to have as many reviews as possible, but they do it very differently.
Come to terms with the fact right away that if you allow your customers to give you feedback, your business account will see both positive and negative reviews. However, if you place importance on the quality of service and customer care, the good ones are sure to dominate.
In practice, the more reviews, the generally lower the percentage of negative ones. This is due to the fact that dissatisfied customers do not need additional motivation to express their opinion, while satisfied ones will most often need additional encouragement.
In this case, another mechanism is also at work – a person asked by the owner or employee to give a rating, in response to such a request will be more likely to review their experience positively. Even if he or she has comments about the service, product, or service, in most situations he or she will soften his or her comments and present them in a lighter form than if the comment were made on his or her own initiative.
Therefore, incentives for giving opinions, reviews, or recommendations should be permanently written into company procedures. In the case of a stationary service, we can ask every customer to give an opinion or even give a cardboard box with, for example, the address on Facebook where it can be done.
Remember – feedback matters and has an impact on your business. Therefore, actively encourage customers to give you feedback, recommendations, or comments.