The online review landscape is a fragmented one. Review sites, both general and niche, have mushroomed in recent years. There are now so many of them that it’s getting increasingly challenging for businesses to stand out.
To stand out, some businesses may be tempted to give themselves positive reviews. After all, if everyone has only nice things to say about you, you’re bound to get more new customers as a result. Perhaps not immediately but in the long term, this will also come back to bite you on the proverbial ass.
This article explores why integrity matters in online reviews and how small businesses can make sure they’re always acting in their customers’ best interests.
Why Is Online Review Integrity Important?
Online reviews have proven themselves as trustworthy sources of information. Most people, around 70%, rely on online reviews before they buy products or services. What’s more, this number is growing every year. This is why integrity in online reviews is important.
When customers feel they can depend on the information they find online, they are more likely to become loyal to your brand. This is especially important for small businesses. Since you don’t have the resources or brand recognition of the big brands, you can’t afford to lose customers due to dishonest reviews.
Acting With Integrity
Don’t Lie To Get New Customers
Reviews have the power to make or break a business. If you get a few negative reviews, you don’t have to worry about it. You’ll be able to recover. But if you start getting lots of negative reviews, things can get messy. You might end up going out of business.
When customers find out you have been dishonest and have been writing positive reviews about your business, they will be very upset. They do not expect to be lied to by the people they are trying to help. This can be a huge blow to your business.
You will lose more customers than you gained by writing those fraudulent reviews. And you may even end up going out of business.
This is why it’s important not to write fraudulent reviews. It’s better to have a few honest, negative reviews than a bunch of fake ones.
Don’t Take Advantage Of Your Customers
There’s nothing wrong with asking your customers to review your business. It’s encouraged. But if you go too far and pressure people into leaving a review, you will lose your customers’ trust.
This will have a long-term negative impact on your business. Customers that feel like they have been forced to leave a review will probably be angry about it. They will leave a negative review and others will see that and assume it’s legitimate. And this isn’t just about negative reviews.
Customers that are made to feel like they have no choice but to leave a positive review will probably do so but be resentful about it. And you don’t want that kind of energy directed towards your business.
Don’t Be Too Quick To Dismiss Bad Reviews
If you receive a negative review, don’t immediately jump to the conclusion that it’s untrue. Some customers are just not happy. And it doesn’t matter what you do, they aren’t going to be satisfied.
This is especially true if you are in the service business. There is no way you will be able to please every person. So if someone leaves a negative review, don’t dismiss it. It may not be accurate. It may be malicious. But it’s still important to read it. You may be able to learn from it and make improvements to your business.
Reviews are not just for the customers. They are for you as the business owner as well. You need to learn to take all feedback seriously.
Check For Red Flags When Receiving Customer Requests
Some customers will be genuine and have legitimate grievances. However, some will have ulterior motives. You need to be able to tell the difference. If someone leaves you a negative review, they will often ask for something in return.
They may ask for free or discounted products or services, free shipping, or a coupon. If someone suddenly wants to do something nice for you when they have something mean to say, you should be wary.
If someone asks for something, that doesn’t mean you can’t be nice. But you shouldn’t feel like you have to give them what they won’t either.
Transparency matters in any business relationship, whether it’s between you and your customers or between you and your employees. Transparency allows your customers to know that you’re an honest business that has nothing to hide.
This will earn you the respect of your customers and the trust that they’ll come back for more. For your employees, transparency is everything. You have to be transparent with your employees about company goals, mission, procedures, etc. When you are transparent, there’s less room for misunderstanding. This will go a long way in ensuring that your employees are satisfied and productive.
Transparency can be achieved in a variety of ways. You can use open-door policies, be open about your company goals, and allow your employees to decide on their work schedules. You can also use visual management tools such as wall posters and organization charts to keep your employees informed.
Your customers have certain expectations of your business. If they’re purchasing from you, they expect to get their products or services as promised. If they’re writing reviews, they expect you to reply to their concerns as soon as possible. Most businesses now have a customer service email address where end-users can reach out to them.
However, not all customers get responses to their emails within a reasonable amount of time. This can be frustrating for your customers and also affect your business negatively. So, be as responsive as possible to your customers’ concerns. If they send you an email and you need more time to respond, let them know when they can expect your reply.
This will ensure that you’re not letting your customers down. It will also build trust between you and your customers, making them more likely to buy from you again.
What Will Happen When Integrity Is Lost
When you lose the trust of your customers, they will stop leaving reviews. And they will stop buying from you entirely. Even if you can recover and get some reviews again, they will be fewer and farther between.
You won’t be able to build the momentum you once had. If you don’t have reviews, your competitors will have a leg up on you. Their products will appear higher in the rankings, and you won’t have a way to combat it.
If you already have reviews and lose integrity, you will have to work that much harder to earn back the trust of your customers. It will be a long and difficult process.
Bottom Line: Don’t Risk Your Business For A Few Reviews
There are many advantages to having positive reviews on your business. But there are no advantages to having fake ones. You will lose your customers’ trust, and some may even report you to the review sites or authorities.
It’s better to put in the work and have a few genuine but honest reviews than have a bunch of false ones. You can recover from a few honest negative reviews. But it will be a lot harder to recover from the damage of a ton of fake reviews. So, don’t risk your business for a few extra reviews.
Instead, focus on providing great service and developing a loyal customer base. When the time comes, they will be more than happy to leave you reviews. With a little patience, your hard work will pay off, and you will have a lasting and positive impact on your brand.
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