A single bad review online may not be a big deal, but a lot of them can be a problem. Not only can they hamper your ability to acquire new customers, but they can cause you to lose old ones. Not convinced? Keep reading.
Mike Moran, writing for Search Engine Guide, told the story of a friend of his who wanted to know how existing customers can be affected by bad reviews. This friend owns a small business, and he was asking Moran not because of his experience as a business owner, but as a customer.
Business owners are customers, too, after all. In this case, Moran's friend needed to get some mulch delivered to his home. He'd always used the same service once a year, basically because it was cheap. This time, though, he'd misplaced the phone number, so he looked the company up online.
He found more than their phone number. He ended up on an online review site, where he read page after page of scathing criticism of the company he was planning to use to deliver his mulch. Well, he started reading the reviews...and found that they struck a chord with him. Yes, the company sometimes needed to be reminded of the order. Yes, they usually deliver a few days late. Yes, he'd had other bad experiences. Yes, the company offered a low price, but...
It was at this point that Moran's friend, seeing confirmation of the bad experiences he'd had, and that they weren't just isolated, but the company's regular pattern, came to a decision point. Was the low price he received from the mulch company really worth the hassle? Seeing that it wasn't just a few isolated incidents, he decided that no, it wasn't worth it. He proceeded to call someone else.
It's important to note that Moran's friend was an existing, regular customer of this company. He may not have been thrilled about the service he received, but as long as he thought the bad service was the exception rather than the rule, he didn't bother switching. Once he saw those bad reviews, he was gone.
This goes to show that you can't rest on your laurels when it comes to your existing customers. You have to provide great service to everyone. If Moran's friend's experiences with the company hadn't matched all of those reviews, he might have wondered what was going on. Or if he had only seen one or two bad reviews, he might have dismissed them – as he brushed aside the bad service he himself had received.
“As more and more people use Google as a phone book, and as the ratings and review sites land at the top of the search results, it is easy to see how even existing customers will be swayed by ratings and reviews,” Moran notes. So “Remember that the way you treat your customers matters every day, and that you must pay attention to what it said online and make improvements to retain your customers as well as to attract new ones.”
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