The review site conundrum — is there an answer?

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yelp page viewUndoubtedly, one of the most challenging game changers in the contracting community, especially for business-to-consumer services, is the evolution and expansion of review sites.  Places like Angie’s List and Yelp, supplemented with speciality and local review sites, turn word-of-mouth opinions into hyper-drive.  A few bad reviews, and your business can be toast.  Several positive reviews, consistently received, especially from people extremely active in social media networks (“influencers”) can result in so much business volume that you won’t need to do much if anything else, especially in paid marketing.

We’ve seen stories about how some businesses utterly blow things with inappropriate or ignorant responses to complaints; we’ve seen others where they cannot seem to get around the negative reviews by having their clients post positive stories (the screening practices of these sites causes these positive reviews to be deleted); there are the implied extortion complaints that if you don’t pay for advertising in the review sites, you can be blacklisted or blackballed.

I expect most of the stories we hear the most about represent the extremes — but what if you simply have a bad job, and either a snarky client wants to complain without real justification or (more validly) you get it wrong.  How should you respond?  This contractortalk.com thread offers some varying insights and answers, from silence, offering a clear explanation of what went wrong and what you did, to a more blunt defensive approach.

I prefer the respectful, straightforward and factual approach, acknowledging and respecting the (former) client’s perspective and explaining what you did to make things right — in this case, fulfilling the 100 per cent refund guarantee.

Another approach I like is the controlled internal testimonial model, used by sales recruiting organization timetohire.com.  This business systematically encourages former clients to post video reviews.  These are posted on the company’s own site, but I’m sure (without pushing the fact — which could result in blockage problems with the paid review sites — results in positive reviews elsewhere.

Have you had experience with review sites (good or bad)? Your comments are welcome.

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