From choosing the best hotels and restaurants in town to consulting the right doctors, most people rely on online reviews. In fact, we rely on online reviews so much that a single bad review can completely tarnish the online reputation of a company. A study suggests that 88% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—as long as the reviews are authentic. But about 20% of reviews are fake. So can you really trust online reviews?
Have you ever bought anything online without looking for customer reviews first? If you’re like most adults in the U.S, your answer should be a straight “No!”
Of all the categories involved in managing a business’s online reputation, reputation repair is the one most fraught with confusion.
As humans, we tend to hate criticism, founded or unfounded. Any sort of negativity directed toward your business—earned or otherwise—holds an immense power to inflict damage in both the present and the future. How you respond can either mollify the situation or exacerbate it, and with the stakes so high, not many businesses can afford a misstep.
Online reputation statistics change regularly. This guide was last updated April 2018.
Honest review sites are an important and valuable part of the information ecosystem. Yet often search engines amplify what should be a whisper to a scream. Who are the players in the bad news ecosystem? Reputation X studied 1000 people and companies with online reputation problems and here's what we learned.
Fast food restaurants occupy a special place in the dining ecosystem. While the dining experience is seldom researched on sites like OpenTable, they are susceptible to reputation problems. Problems come either at the regional level as in the case of Chipotles E. coli snafu, or at the local level like when Domino's was sued over wire brush bristles found in a Dominos pizza. Both cases were dramatic and affected the overall brand. But individual fast food restaurants can suffer a quieter, less dramatic online reputation problem. Some embrace a bad reputation, as in the case of Botto Italian Bistros' Yelp reviews, but most see a slow leak in prospective customers that can cost an individual restaurant thousands or more in lost revenue.
Review websites are not just for people seeking a good restaurant. Prospective employees looking for their next place of gainful employment often look to business review sites like GlassDoor, Indeed and Vault to get an idea of the working environment from people who've been there. Conversely, from the business' viewpoint, acquiring the best employees is key and unfair reviews can keep companies from hiring new talent that might improve the company. Our client was a mortgage firm who'd had a single employee post many negative reviews on GlassDoor posing as different people. But the reviews were not flagged as they didn't seem to violate the community guidelines.