Just in time for Halloween I was thinking of a monster that terrifies most small business owners, the review filter monster. It is no secret that online review sites are not as straight forward as they lend themselves to be. The idea is that your customers compose reviews and then the site will give a realistic portrayal of your business, right? Those that watch closely and understand the power of these reviews, know that this is not at all what happens. Many become victims of the review filter monster, as I lovingly call it. This monster shows up unannounced and eats up seemingly mostly positive reviews, but why?
One specific site, not naming names, chalks it up to an algorithm that sniffs out like a bloodhound the reviews that are legit and the ones that are fake. Another site I have seen more recently, took nine 5 star reviews and averaged it to 4.9? I am not a math genius, but obviously this isn’t correct.
There are plenty of companies out there that have put forth campaigns that are below board, creating accounts for people to compose fake reviews, but in reality is this the exception or the rule? My argument is for the exception, yet we still have to battle with the review filter monster.
Additionally, many sites will ask that you not solicit feedback from your customers. What business in their right mind would not solicit feedback from their customers? After all, without customers none of us would be in business, right? So ultimately it is important that we know that they are happy, and if we find out they are not, to do everything in our power to correct the issue. Yet it is exactly this feedback that is being worked out of the equation. The idea is that solicited feedback will most likely be positive. If you are doing things right, shouldn’t the feedback be mostly positive whether the feedback was solicited or not.
Long story short, the review filter monster exists and there is nothing that us small fish can do about it at this point. The most important thing a business can do is have a strategy to effectively leverage these channels to the best of their ability. You still have the right to react accordingly to your customer base and use the channels as you see fit, regardless of their particular expectations or recommendations. Online reviews are here to stay and are making waves in the marketplace by steering who consumers will and will not do business with. We can all kick and scream, but we are shooting our own business in the foot if you do not have some sort of campaign in place to manage these online reviews.