photo credit Tero Vesalainen
Look. I get it. You had a negative experience with that business and you want to get it off your chest. They were rude, they didn’t react quickly enough to your needs, or they didn’t show enough interest in your request.
So you think it’s a good idea to go over to Google, Facebook or Yelp and tell the world what happened to you. I understand. I really do. Heck, I’ve written my share of reviews.
But I want to take a moment and tell you just how powerful you are and just what kind of damage you may actually be inflicting upon that business.
Take a look at these stats:
Now those first two might not surprise you. A lot of people read reviews and most people trust them. Sure, that makes sense. But what about those last two? Did you ever stop to think that what you write about a business might literally turn customers away? Did you realize you could cause a decrease in revenue to the tune of thousands of dollars per year?
Is that your intention? If I were to guess, I would say that no, you just want to provide an accurate account of your experience. You’re not trying to put them out of business.
I want to encourage you to follow Uncle Ben’s advice, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
What you say can carry a lot of weight so give your review a lot of thought and consideration before clicking that POST button.
My pet peeve is when people write reviews for a business they didn’t actually hire. I understand that they may have had a less-than-perfect interaction with them, but I truly don’t believe a person has the right to review a business unless they traded dollars for products or services.
Here are a couple of examples.
REVIEW PLATFORM: YELP | BUSINESS TYPE: LANDSCAPING CONTRACTOR
Come on, that’s just not right. You couldn’t take the time to measure your flowerbeds so you got mad and gave them one star? I don’t know if you’ve ever owned a business but it cost time and money to drive out to every potential customer who wants a free bid. It seems perfectly reasonable that they would want at least a little information that you could easily get yourself in less than five minutes before driving all the way to your home on their dime.
REVIEW PLATFORM: FACEBOOK | BUSINESS TYPE: FLORIST
Wait. What? Not only did you not do business with this florist, it doesn’t even appear that you called them. You just found out that someone who works there happens to stay at hotels owned by Trump. You were so angry that you felt the need to ream them with your almighty and powerful single star review, potentially decreasing their annual sales by 5 to 9%.
I mean, if you don’t want to support them based on politics, that’s one thing. But to aggressively go after their business in this manner is, in my opinion, completely unreasonable.
Now you might defend your review. by saying, “I didn’t write anything that is untrue. I’m not hurting their business.” That might be true if people actually read every review. But more often than not, potential customers make a decision based solely on the aggregate star rating. So that single star review can have more of an impact than you may realize.
REVIEW PLATFORM: GOOGLE | BUSINESS TYPE: PARTY RENTAL
The owners are rude? How so? Did they use a harsh tone? Did they say something offensive? Did they place you on hold for more than three minutes?
Or did they simply not offer you the price you wanted? Maybe they weren’t super-nice on that particular day. Maybe they were having a bad day. It happens.
Hang on a minute. You went so far as to plug the name of one of their competitors in the review. And… that competitor came to your wedding? Are you perhaps friends with the competitor? Maybe? Possibly? Or maybe not. Maybe I’m reading more into this than is there. Still not cool.
At worst, this client was rude during an initial phone call. But you didn’t get to really experience working with them so your review isn’t valuable to me. I compare this to rating a book based on a cover design you don’t like, or a movie based on a bad trailer.
So you had a bad experience when you were thinking of hiring them. Then you made the decision to not do business with them. The way I see it, if they keep having calls like that, they’ll go out of business on their own. Isn’t that enough?
One more thing I’d like to add about all these reviews… (This is just in case Yelp, Google or Facebook developers happen to come across this article.)
Review sites provide their users some options to “vote” on these reviews. Yelp votes include Useful, Funny, and Cool. Google offers Like and Share as their choices. Facebook’s options are Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry.
Only Facebook’s Sad and Angry choices are in the negative. But even if a person uses one of these, future readers don’t know if they are trying to say that they are sad or angry about the customer’s experience or that they are sad or angry about the review itself.
I think Yelp, Google and Facebook should give us the option to vote down the review with choices like Unfair, Inappropriate, Fake and You’re Probably a Disgruntled Ex-Employee. Then maybe people would be a little more careful about what they say and each review site could use algorithms to push these kinds of reviews to the bottom or remove them altogether.
Have you had an unfair review left for your business? Tell me about it.
Thanks for reading. -David