Yesterday, we gave you our three month research study results to illustrate how online user generated content is out there, and potentially damaging until you lock it down.
InsiderPages, Yahoo Local, and CitySearch are the top 3 review sites you should worry about. Let's look at a case study to show exactly what you need to pay attention to.
We randomly searched InsiderPages.com for all jewelry stores within 20 miles of our office to find a good example.
188 jewelers with 5 star reviews from 1 or more reviewers.
178 jewelers with 4 star reviews, mostly from a single reviewer.
52 with 3 star reviews, many from 2 or more reviewers.
13 with 2 star reviews from 1 or more reviewers.
20 with 1 start reviews from 1 or more reviewers.
These review systems are always wrought with spam. Some businesses create fake accounts and post their own reviews. Some reviews are filled with incorrect grammar and bad spelling which usually indicates inexpensive overseas paid review services from India or the Philippines.
We would like to think that anyone with human common sense could tell the difference between a real review and a paid review. Unfortunately, the search engines can't tell.
Quickly glancing over the 188 jewelers with 5 stars, we see many in NYC with dozens of reviews. There's obvious spam in there as well as a lot of happy, raving customers.
You too can also have dozens of reviews from happy, raving customers. You simply need to ask for the review as the happy paying customer is walking out your store. Hopefully they will remember to do it when they get home.
Let's look at a perfect example of why you need to pay attention to InsiderPages. Take a look at this page for Paramus Diamond Center in Paramus, NJ:
This poor slob has no idea that they have 5 reviews with a 2 star rating, and that the reviewers are arguing with each other right on their own business profile page! If Paramus Diamond Center had noticed they would have claimed their business and replied to the reviews.
Claiming your review on InsiderPages is easy. You will need a free InsiderPages account. Follow these steps to create an account and claim your business.
First, just search your business name and zip code to find your listing, then click the "Claim Business" link. If you don't have an account yet, this is where they ask you to create one. Enter your email and your name, then they send you a confirmation email with a link for you to click.
Once your account is created and confirmed you have to go back to your listing and click that "Claim Business" link again. They will give you a message that they protect business owners from fraud and you have to agree to their terms. At the time of this writing there was also a CAPTCHA field on that screen to thwart spam. Once you click the Submit button you will have instant access to your business page.
You should update your Business Profile and add as much detail as possible.
You will find all your reviews at the bottom of the edit screen for your Business Profile. You should respond to any that are damaging.
Responding to reviews is tricky. Say nothing that will further harm your reputation. Do not counter attack the reviewer. Do not belittle the reviewer. They are probably making a valid complaint and you need to explain what went wrong.
Explain misunderstandings without turning the customer into the bad guy. If the reviewer was upset by a particular employee you could simply say that the employee was wrong and has been disciplined, retrained, or even fired.
If possible, you should offer thanks that the reviewer helped to identify a way for you to better your business.
Transparency is important in how you respond to bad reviews. Never make excuses because those usually look contrived and defensive. Just plead your case and ask for forgiveness.
Tomorrow we will take a look at another review site and give you some more tips on responding to customer complaints.