PERSON OF THE WEEK: Among the assorted tomfoolery floating around cyberspace is a quote that reads, ‘Don't believe everything you read on the Internet just because there's a picture with a quote next to it. – Abraham Lincoln.’ While many people know better than to trust what they find online, a great many others are heavily influenced by Internet postings – especially when these postings take a broad slam at a particular business. And the very last thing that mortgage banking companies need is bad publicity stemming from online trash talk.
To understand the impact of negative interview commentary on a business, MortgageOrb spoke with V. Michael Santoro and John S. Rizzo, authors of the new book ‘Niche Dominance: Creating Order Out of Your Digital Marketing Chaos.’
Q:Â Just how much damage can one bad online review to do a business?
Santoro: Even one bad review posted online can hurt a business unless there are several good reviews to counter it. A single bad review can have potential customers pause and compare you to your competition. Additionally, visitors can vote on the usefulness of the review that can cause a review to go viral.
Q: How can a company keep track of its online reviews? Is a simple Google search enough for this task?
Rizzo: By searching Google for your business name or by setting up a Google Alert, a business can see what is being posted online about the business. However, if the business is registered with local business directories, such as Yelp or SuperPages, those reviews will not be picked up by Google Alerts.
A business must search each directory to see what reviews have been posted. A company should proactively check each review site daily for new reviews. Alternatively, a company can work with a digital marketing company to set up tracking software to monitor and report its online reviews.Â
Q: Which review sites have the most credibility? And do these sites permit anonymous or pseudonymous reviews?
Santoro: The review sites with the most credibility include Yelp, Google, Tripadvisor and Angie's List. Reputable review sites require that individuals register using their email address and confirm their registration prior to being able to leave a review.
However, for some sites, the person writing the review is not required to use his or her real name after registering. Thus, the sites that require the reviewer to use his or her real name have more credible reviews.
Q: How can a company encourage satisfied customers to post positive reviews online?
Santoro: Businesses need to proactively ask their customers to post a review to Google, Yelp or other business directories where they have an established account. They can offer deals or discounts for additional services as thanks for posting a review.
However, it should not be interpreted as a bribe – it should be seen as an incentive. Providing an exceptional customer experience and then asking at the right time is critical.Â
Not surprisingly, many customers forget to post their reviews, so businesses need to train their staff on how to obtain reviews and follow up with customers. To expedite the process, the business can have customers scan a QR Code that takes them directly to a review page.Â
Q: Is it possible to contact review sites to have negative reviews taken down? Or is a business forced to have those reviews online forever?
Rizzo: It is possible. However, in most cases, it is an uphill battle. As the business owner, you can report abuse or notate that the customer's review is providing misinformation. What is a more effective approach is to publicly respond to the reviews in a professional manner so potential customers can see how you respond to adversity before you do business with them.
What businesses need is a reputation-marketing program that proactively incorporates continually posting good customer reviews into their digital marketing plan. This will build a solid foundation that can have a positive influence on their business. This strategy also ensures that a business' good reviews far outweigh the bad reviews that may be posted. It also encourages employees not to take customer relationships for granted.