How to Avoid the Review Skew

A few bad reviews can do a lot of reputation damage to a good company.  Here’s some considerations that will help you avoid a skewed image on review websites.

Here are some numbers for you:

Say you worked with 10,000 clients in the lifetime of your business.  Your offerings and customer service are superb:  you have a 99% satisfaction rate.

This still means you’d have 100 dissatisfied clients.  The type of clients who might write-up a negative review on an online review website.

And say half of them did.  50 negative reviews, representing .005 percent of your customers.

Now say you’re looking for a restaurant, or a law firm, or a dentist. You uncover 50 negative reviews lingering around on these review sites.

It looks like a lot.  It’s far more than you’d read.

Unless this business has gotten many of it’s satisfied customers to also leave reviews, you might come to the conclusion their services are poorly lacking.

This from a company with a 99% satisfaction rate.  Say they had a 95% satisfaction rate…

Call it review skew.

How to Balance Your Review Numbers

Often those who want to leave a bad review of a business are self-motivated.  They feel burned and want to warn others.  Or maybe they just want to vent.

People who are happy with a service may not think to leave a review.

Obviously, to avoid review skew you want to increase the credible, positive reviews so people get a clearer picture of your service levels.

When you have a satisfied customer, ask them to leave a review on Yelp, Angie’s List, BBB, Google Plus, or Top Rated Local.

However, there is a caveat.  You want to avoid a sudden surge in overly-glowing, 5 star reviews in what might be deemed an unnatural time-frame.  If your review page gets hit with 20 five-star reviews on the same day, the system may filter the reviews.  These systems want to see a natural build up of review content.

And ask people to be honest – not to make you sound like a rock star just because they like you.  Honesty brings credibility, and if there’s some constructive criticism in your review profile, it will make it look more real.

It is a shame that just a few scurrilous reviews can do as much damage as they do to good companies.  People researching business online tend to be highly risk-averse, so just a few negative remarks are enough to make them unsure, costing businesses leads and customers.

Add to that fake reviews, competitors slamming each other on review sites, and even people now being called self-appointed brand managers, who review products or services they’ve never used.  Apparently they feel their opinion is so valuable they should review new products based on their sense of how well it fits the brand image.

As a business owner, all you can do is try to provide top-notch service and nudge reviews in the direction of positive.  If you do that consistently over-time, it will balance in your favor and your review profile will be more representative of your service.