In this digital age, is there anybody who doesn’t search for online reviews before trying out a new product? With the rise of the Internet came the rise of free access to information, and consumers were quick to harness that power for the purpose of evaluating brands and products. This concept can often be nerve-wracking for businesses because, unlike customer satisfaction surveys, online reviews are available to the public. Plus, 72% of consumers trust them, meaning they can have a significant influence on a potential customer’s decision to buy. It’s understandably frustrating when your brand’s reviews aren’t what you want, but some companies apparently have crossed a line in their hunt for more online praise. The BBC reported this morning that an investigation has been launched into the prevalence of fraud in online reviews. According to the BBC, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has discovered that several businesses are paying writers to give glowing recommendations of their brand or product. These reviews can be posted directly in the appropriate section of a company’s website, submitted to third-party reviewing websites, or maybe even included in an independent blogger’s own personal posts. Brands often pay for endorsements of their services, so you might be asking: What’s the problem? Here, the problem is that other customers are unaware that any compensation was involved. They’re under the impression that the review is an honest, unbiased opinion from a customer just like themselves, when in reality it’s a fake report created to benefit the brand and not the customer. The companies involved in this fraud clearly understood the importance of the online review, but they missed one crucial point: customer satisfaction. Pleasing customers is one of the most important marketing strategies around, and the main purpose of seeking out customer feedback should be to keep customers happy. By responding to and learning from criticisms, your brand will not only enhance quality, but will also ensure customer satisfaction. And, when your customers are happy, your company is successful – and your reviews get better and better when your customers love and trust your brand.
When companies are outed for using these strategies, this completely breaks the trust of their customers. Building trusting customer relationships is essential in modern business, and should be an integral part of any brand’scommunication strategy. Online reviews are a wonderful way for your customers to communicate with you; brands should welcome the connection instead of fearing it. Unflattering reviews do get written, and no business wants a bad review, but there are other – and much better – ways to go about dealing with those types of comments. One bad review won’t decimate your brand, but alienating your customers is unlikely to do much else.
Being honest with your customers is the smart way to earn their trust! Looking for other ways to keep your marketing strategy SMART? Download this free template to start working towards those goals!