Dustin asked me a good question on Quora about five star reviews

We were heading for the Gold Coast hinterland for the Kokoda Challenge. That’s when teams of 4 trek either 48 or 96 k across country celebrating courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice, commemorating the Australian soldiers who fought on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea during WWII.

Looking for where to stay, of course we were influenced by the reviews. The one that made my skin crawl was the one that said, “I found many many cockroaches (alive) in the shower; in the room. I think more than one hundred small cockroaches around. I will never come back here again.” This review had been up for 4 months! No reply from the owner… and it wasn’t the only bad review for that hotel. Needless to say, we didn’t stay there…

Reviews are essential to the health of a business now. Dustin’s question to me on Quora was about why Google would award 4.6 stars when a business seemed to have only 5 star reviews? The flippant answer would be “because they’re Google and they can” but usually you’ll find some less-than-five-star reviews buried somewhere. Even one below five stars is enough to drag down the reviews, sometimes disproportionately. I’ve also seen businesses with only five stars have a less-than-five score until we helped with their reputation optimisation.

The long answer is that any business needs to proactively manage and market their reputation optimisation in this day and age or be at risk from unscrupulous competitors, disgruntled ex-employees (even ex-spouses in some circumstances) or the “odd” customer… even from good customers who are just inherently cautious and conservative so think that a three star review is good enough. As the saying goes, “I can go anywhere and get insulted” – the new version is, “Why would I risk choosing a business where reviews or a lack of them indicate indifference?”

Whichever stats you look at, between 70% and 88% of us trust online reviews. Google trusts the crowd so a business NAP, reviews, citations and directories are now vital.

Needless to say, all reviews need to be from bona fide genuine customers and people who know the business. Fake reviews are totally out of the question. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

The flip side is that businesses need a reputation optimisation strategy because without one, human nature being what it is, there is a skew to bad/poor reviews being reported. Or no reviews. Several businesses have been closed as a result of bad reviews and it’s only going to get worse (see Channel 7 TV reports recently). We’re all busy: happy customers aren’t usually going to proactively report on the business without the business making ie easy for them and also asking in the right way.

By the way, we found a great place to stay and, yes, Amy completed all 48ks, for the second year running. Congrats to all who took part. Being on the Support Team was enough of a challenge for me.

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PS Amy’s the one on the second from right – and they actually completed 50k because the organisers changed the route, adding another 2k before the end. Just as happens in business – you think you’re nearly there and someone changes the game plan…

 

 

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