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Getting the reviews that you deserve

Holidaymakers go through a familiar ritual. Before they book a hotel, they’ll go to TripAdvisor and check out the reviews online. If the hotel has cockroaches in the kitchen, it will be clear in seconds. The reviews can reveal all.

It’s not just hotels. We use reviews to assess the quality of almost everything. Whether you want a dentist or a mechanic, you can read the detailed comments of other customers before you buy. No profession escapes scrutiny. Electricians are reviewed on Checkatrade, cafés on Yell, hairdressers on Google. Even doctors are getting scrutinised by sites such as RateMDs.com.

Reviews are a way of life for consumers. The rise of reviews ought to be great for strong businesses. They’ll get the recognition they deserve. But there is a problem. Reviews may not reflect what customers truly feel.

It is well documented that negative experiences are far more likely to result in reviews than good ones. It’s rooted in neurology. Roy F. Baumeister, professor of social psychology at Florida State University, put it succinctly in a paper for the Review of General Psychology:

“Bad emotions, bad parents and bad feedback have more impact than good ones. Bad impressions and bad stereotypes are quicker to form and more resistant to disconfirmation than good ones.”

 Reputation.com helps businesses generate reviews in a fair and truthful manner

Review sites can thus give a distorted picture. Even if just 20 people out of 1,000 had a bad experience, the bad reviews may outnumber the good. Worse, rival companies may add a few negative reviews to the competition. Unethical, yes. But it happens.

To thrive in this new world of reviews, companies need to redress the balance. It can be as straightforward as increasing the quantity of reviews.

Reputation.com helps businesses generate these reviews in a fair and truthful manner. “We start by simply asking customers for reviews,” says Richard Harrison, Reputation.com’s UK managing director. “We give businesses an iPad or they can buy their own, so when customers leave they are asked to swipe a star rating as their review. If they want, they can add a few comments. This gets added to the business’s own review site.”

This approach means the number of reviews rises and the business can track feedback - valuable for marketing.

A follow-up boosts the effect. “Later, we e-mail the customer asking them to leave another review on a third-party site, such as TripAdvisor or Yell. They are usually happy to, if they left an earlier one,” says Mr Harrison.

Once more the number of reviews rises, and the overall balance is naturally redressed.

Reputation.com amplifies the impact of reviews via Twitter, Facebook and other social media. And its software gives clients a centralised view of coverage on all review sites.

“There’s no mystery to it,” says Mr Harrison. “Getting better reviews is about making it easy for customers to add their thoughts to review sites. The more reviews, the more accurate the picture for potential customers doing research on review sites.”

As the number of reviews builds, a business can insure against a single bad review – they will still happen, no matter what – impacting trade.

“Reviews are a huge part of commerce today,” says Mr Harrison. “We make sure businesses get fair reviews. We advise companies on how to spread coverage across the sites which matter. If they need more Yell or Checkatrade reviews, we push customers gently in that direction.

“Getting the coverage you want begins with getting engaged. It is an issue far too important to neglect.”

To find out more visit Reputation.com