November 15, 2014
Back in May we wondered aloud what would happen if small businesses accepted online feedback instead of reviews. What’s the problem with review sites? Here’s three of them:
1. The “extortion” argument – You don’t have to look very far to see examples of companies that claim that review sites such as Yelp hide positive reviews and promote negative reviews unless you advertise with them. This perception, true or not, leads to bad behavior on both sides of the aisle. Consumers now “threaten” business owners with bad reviews if they don’t get their way. And Business Owners who are fearful that a drop in score will hurt their business will pay third parties simply to give them good reviews. This blog post highlights the challenges that Yelp faces in this regard. The main point of this post is that a 3rd party review site needs to be based on trust.
2. The “wisdom of the crowd” – The belief is that sites that get enough traffic are reliable arbiters of reviews since you just need to look at the trends that the crowd represents. However, a recent study confirms what we at Bizyhood believe: most people would prefer to rely on word of mouth and recommendations from friends rather than strangers. In fact, a recent report shows that many review sites are suffering from a large percentage of fake reviews.
Does Yelp really represent the wisdom of the crowd in the first place? Validation and credibility are two important attributes that consumers are looking for – and review sites tend to dissolve into message boards with posts from people that you don’t know.
3. The angry owner – The angry business owner is the business that responds viciously to a negative review. From hostile text messages to lawsuits, some business owners appear to freak out in a very public way when their business is reviewed poorly. While some of these business owners may need anger management counseling, to some extent their frustration is warranted. The biggest issue with reviews is they come with an unqualified representation of how the user feels at that time – the 5 star rating. I’m very curious if these business owners would have resorted to the crazy tactics they used if there hadn’t been a “score” to represent the customers feelings, but just the feedback itself.
Small business owners should get their customers to talk about and with them early and often online.
Customer feedback is great word of mouth marketing, and it has the side benefit of helping with Search Engine Optimization. The bottom line is that feedback can help make you better, as long as you embrace it. Today there are tools and platforms for you to do this without falling prey to the three issues above.