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How Reviews Can Change The Trajectory of Your Business

Some view customer reviews as a platform for the obnoxious trolls to spew hatred. However, they're critical to whether or not your business is successful.

Go outside. Perhaps your favorite coffee shop. Better yet, the local superstore you loathe. i.e. Walmart. Stand at the entrance as if you’re selling Girl Scout Cookies or collecting for the Salvation Army. Approach every woman with screaming child in tow, every man hating the fact he’s in public, every teen with their eyes glued to their phone—and ask them one question:

“What do you think of me?” (Not me. You. What do they think of you. PS: Don’t literally do this.)

Then, after getting their answer--which may or may not come after a tirade of berating comments—Post it online.

Sounds like a cross between a horrible hidden camera reality show and Dante’s definition of hell, ya?

Yet, on a daily basis, this is what millions of businesses not only do, but are required in the form of customer reviews.

What this blog is going to show you is:

  1. How imperative customer reviews are in today’s world.
  2. The difference between a review and a testimonial.
  3. And why you must break free of your fear of feedback.

The Power of the Customer Review

The world is littered with critics in all shapes, sizes, smells, forms and flavors. Hell, some even have critic in their title:

  • Food Critic
  • Movie Critic
  • Music Critic
  • And the people on E! criticizing how someone is dressed for…Wait for it…An award show judged by the aforementioned movie or music critic.

But it’s reality. We not only are fascinated by opinion, we are not only fixated by opinion, we rely on opinion.

In a recent survey by Brightlocal, 86% of people read reviews for local businesses (95% of people between the ages of 18-34). In this same survey, consumers read an average of 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a local business. Why is this? My opinion, three factors:

  • Getting to know the business
  • Seeing what people think of the business
  • And justifying our own decision to do business with them.

We want to do business with people we know, we trust, and we want to feel we made a wise decision after hitting the checkout button. It’s human nature.

This is how we feel as consumers. But as proprietors, we are terrified in knowing what people think of us. Honestly, who doesn’t want everyone to like us? But that is NO way for a business to grow. And that is why reviews are so much more powerful than that of a testimonial.

Testimonial Vs. Review

Turn on your TV. Pretty sure, whether you’re reading this at 8am or 8pm, there is an episode of Law And Order or one of its many incarnations on. Regardless of whether it’s the plaintiff or the defendant, they only select those who are beneficial to their case to testify on their clients behalf.

That’s a testimonial.

You find a customer, a happy customer, and ask them to write up a little happy note about their experience with you.

“It was such a wonderful experience (I’m 40. I can’t ever recall thinking a transaction as being “wonderful”) working with The ACME Bomb Company. Wile E. and his staff we’re courteous, polite, thoughtful, and walked me through each and every step of how to exterminate a road runner. I definitely recommend doing business with them.”

This is then cut and pasted on a page on your own site literally under the category of “Testimonial”. These are great only if and when someone is already on your site. It does NOTHING for bringing people to the site.

A review on the other hand is imperative for this doing just that.  

Whether it’s Yelp, Facebook, Google, Trip Advisor, or any site devoted to your industry—Reviews will increase the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for your companies site. One caveat though, they all may not be so glowing as our friends testimonial from above. (Testimonials are usually done by friends. I don’t know that to be fact, but I don’t know that to be false either.)

Simply, having people leave reviews for your company will increase the likelihood of you being one of the top businesses shown when someone does a search query for your industry.

However, many of you are feeling anxiety build as your memory recalls every pain in the ass customer you’ve dealt with over the years. And justifiably so. But this is why you need to let this go, and allow me to explain how.

Stop Being Afraid of Reviews

Quick story—Hudson, New York. Referred by some as the one of “coolest small towns in the USA” is about 45 minutes south of Albany and 2 hours north of New York City along the I87 highway. It’s also home to one of, if not the single worst tragedy of a company being terrified of negative customer reviews.

I give you Union Street Guest House.

“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not…If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event ... and given us a deposit of any kind ... there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review ... placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.”

This is…was real!

If you took down your review, then you would get your money back.

Union Streets Guest House review policy story spread faster than the rumor about the Paul Pfiefer from Wonder Years being Marilyn Manson.

This minions of the internet revolted by posting over 3,000 negative reviews on Yelp. The owner claimed this was just a joke and not actually a policy of Union Street Guest House. Which, appropriately enough, was followed by an example given by someone in 2013 who used this establishment and had the “no negative reviews” policy enforced on them.

Why would a company do such a thing?

Fear. Plain and simple, fear.

What we’re telling you now is this—Get over that, and fast.

Whether it’s food, movies, clothing, games, whatever — The creator subjects their product/service for testing. The purpose of the testing isn’t to find out what’s great with it; it’s to find out what’s wrong with it. Allowing your company to be subjected to scrutiny may be the difference between growth and stagnation.

View a negative review as a gift. An opportunity. When someone rattles your cage because they’re unhappy with the product or service you provided. When they’d rather go public as opposed to private—Step up. Show them why you’re a kickass business and ask them how you can make it up to them. PUBLICLY. Those 86% of people reading reviews aren’t just reading what others say about you, they’re reading how you respond. Remember that.

And if you’re seeing your company receive an exorbitant amount of negative reviews — Well my friend, it may be time you did a review on yourself.

Why are we stressing the importance of customer reviews on a web design companies blog page?

J.E.G Design is getting ready to launch a new product to help companies grow through the usage of customer reviews. If you’re interested or at least intrigued--

Contact Jon today and find out more.

Or you can just go to Walmart and ask the next girl in a pair of “Juicy” sweatpants what she thinks of you.

PS: If you’re wondering what happened to Union Street Guest House — here is their website.

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Written By Keith Hannigan - a freelance blogger and copywriter with over a decade of experience in helping companies tell their story. For more information, contact Keith today at kth08250@gmail.com

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