According to BusinessWeek, 70% of consumers consult online reviews before making a purchase. In an age where asking a friend or heading to Best Buy to ask the sales guy which laptop to buy has been replaced by Google searches, this is no surprise. What is a surprise is how little moderation review sites provide.
This is understandable. Review sites are meant to be open forums where consumers can express their personal experience with a product or service. Sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and even Amazon require no verification when a person posts a review. Unfortunately, this leaves review sites open for corruption. Anyone can post a negative review of your small business, including your competitors, disgruntled employees, and the isolated unhappy customer taking out a bad day on you.
Just as businesses want fairness in reviews, customers want to know the reviews they are reading are from legitimate sources. A new service from online appointment scheduler Genbook aims to provide more dependable reviews. Called Genbook Verified Reviews, the service puts businesses in charge, allowing only verified customers to post reviews.
The process is simple. Your customers make appointments through Genbook, which e-mails them after the appointment is over to request a review. That review is then posted on Genbook and Facebook. Once the review is posted, it will begin appearing in search results.
Because all reviews are from verified customers of that business, consumers know the reviews they read on the site are authentic. You won’t have to worry about competitor games or disgruntled employees pretending to be customers. The reviews you see on Genbook are from customers who used the site for booking an appointment.
“We have over 500 reviews and an average five-star rating,” said Jim Lankes, owner, Divine™ Skin Spa in Scottsdale, AZ. “We work diligently to manage our online review presence, but review standards and filters on other sites have been frustrating in the past. Genbook has made the process easier and accelerated our local, web and social media presence.”
What about businesses that don’t require scheduled appointments? Restaurants, retail shops, and the like have no need for an online appointment scheduler, but they still want a way to point customers to a site where they can post reviews about the services they’ve received. Customer feedback management services, like SimpleFeedback.com, give you the tools you need to collect that feedback and post it on your company website, blogs, and more.
The key, experts say, is to encourage your loyal customers to leave feedback. Offer incentives for those who visit from review sites, like coupons or discounts. By encouraging these sites’ loyal users to give you a chance, you’ll be more likely to see a review on your business. Be aware, though, that encouraging customers to leave reviews opens you up to the occasional negative comment. No business is perfect all the time.
Review sites are becoming more important to the average consumer. But it’s so hard to control what customers put out there about your business. The one site you can control is your own, so be sure to encourage reviews on your own sites, as well.