The Dangers for Local London Business Owners That Aren't In Control of Their Online Reputation

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( — March 27, 2013) London, UK — As more customers realise that they can leave feedback of their experience of a local business, business owners are beginning to take note of the potential benefit, but also the potential reputation damage of negative feedback.

A business owner may be forgiven for believing that negative feedback and poor ratings are to be expected as you can’t please everyone all of the time.

However, research by the highly respected ratings agency, Nielsen Global found that 72 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. And Demand Force also found that 70 percent of consumers trust a business with a minimum of 6-10 reviews. But of course they too have to be all good reviews.

Here’s the danger. Consumers see other customer reviews as an indication of how they might experience a business’s product or service. So when you have mixed reviews, bad reviews or no reviews at all, consumers tend to be distrustful and often do business with the competition instead. Its a natural reaction and we have all done it. We are more likely to avoid local businesses that have bad reviews.

The danger therefore for local businesses in London that fail to control what is said about their business online is that if they get bad reviews, fewer customers will use that business because they don’t wish to have a similar bad experience.

Do you know what your business’s online reputation is? If not, you can get your free business reputation marketing report right here.

However, as seen in the US, there is also a more sinister aspect of bad reviews online.

A Fox News report found evidence that some unscrupulous customers were using the threat of leaving a negative review to extort favours from the local business.

The Fox News report stated that “There’s no real data showing how often it’s happening, but anecdotal evidence suggest cyber-extortion is on the rise: scammers know online reviews carry a lot of weight, and can affect a company’s bottom line”.

But it does stop there, as unscrupulous competitors may also be tempted into using reviews to cause harm to a competitor’s reputation online, knowing full well that when you leave bad reviews that often translates into lost business as some customers are put off by the bad feedback.

Naturally, a review that is disingenuous and calculated to do harm is potentially libellous . The trouble is how to prove it if  the offending party hides behind a VPN service that hides their IP address.

So what can London businesses do to minimise these potential dangers. Well, the first thing is to have a protocol and procedure in place to manually check a business’s online reputation.

The first place to check is the business’s Google + Local page and then all third party directory sites that allow users to post reviews.

Unless you have access to dedicated proprietary systems that can monitor the web so you can identify instances when a business’s name is used, the task unfortunately is a manual, tedious and a bit time consuming.

A Google alert will not help here, except perhaps in picking up on some social media sites and anything else where your business’s name can be found in the search engines. The trouble is that third party review sites have bespoke listings for local businesses, so when a user leaves a review, they rarely mention the business’s name.

The other challenge for local businesses is that you cannot post your own customer reviews, as Google and many third party directories block submissions that come from the same IP address.  

So, the only thing that local London businesses can do is to encourage their customers to go online and leave a review. Be careful however, not to bribe the customer with free offers or discounts, as this is in breach of Google’s terms of service and if discovered, those reviews will be de-indexed and Google could potentially de-index your Google + Local page. Which can be disastrous for a local business.

Local Viral Buzz, brand and reputation specialists, have proprietary tools that enable them to both monitor third party directories and to post reviews on behave of the business, within Google’s terms of service.

Graham Cardona, founder of Local Viral Buzz says that “one of the main benefits that client’s of our reputation service receive is up-to-the-minute reports of anything that may be negative, and work with that business to manage that review out.

In addition, the strategy that we deploy is so comprehensive and well-thought through that we believe we have managed to find a way to stop many bad reviews finding there way into third party listings. It’s a strategy that we call reputation marketing as it goes one step further than many reputation management solutions on the marketing today.”


(Article by Graham Cardona – a Brand & Reputation Marketing Expert & Founder of Local Viral Buzz)