Expectations of your business will literally shape the whole consumer experience for your customers. This is nothing new. In my post, “Social Media – It’s a Moral Imperative” I wrote about how a movie’s marketing campaign painted an unrealistic expectation of being a comedy – and then delivered scenes of horrific violence and very little “humor”.
The same is true of your business. Marketing sets expectations. If you deliver on the promises – if expectations are met – then consumers will be satisfied. Fail to deliver – and consumers will complain.
While this is nothing new – what is new is that we’re living in a world where communication is lightning fast and ridiculously easy thanks to social media. This creates a world where your consumer’s unmet expectations (realistic or not) can mean an avalanche of negative online reviews .
Setting realistic expectations of your products and services is essential to your business survival.
I’m seeing a worrisome trend – one which is not only being recommended by various “gurus” but also being practiced by business owners who obviously are not aware of the danger involved.
Many businesses – big and small – are engaging in creating their own “reviews” for their business. One popular info product recommends this course of action – especially if customers aren’t online actively participating in online reviews. This popular resource recommends that SEO professionals and business owners go out and actively create the reviews they “know their business deserves” by leaving reviews under pseudonyms.
Here’s the hidden danger with this troubling trend.
Let’s say you’re a physician concerned about your online reputation. You hire someone to create 5 star reviews for your practice. Those fictitious reviews are prominently displayed in your local search listing.
Your multiple reviews make your local search listing tops with Google maps and this begins bringing new patients to your office. These patients are expecting 5 star service because – after all – that’s what it looks like others have been saying about your medical practice. They’re expecting short waits in the waiting room, they’re expecting considerate, competent staff – they’re expecting the doctor to have a great bedside manner – but when they arrive – that’s not what they get.
Perhaps a “real” review of your office wouldn’t have given your practice five stars on every options. Perhaps a real patient would have rated your office wait time as “moderate” – but real patients didn’t write those reviews so the new patients who came to your office – expecting a brief stay in the waiting room are now fuming as the minutes tick by and they still haven’t been seen.
Trust me when I tell you…
The online review of the consumer who has been disappointed will be far worse than the authentic review of a dissatisfied consumer.
I’ve observed what seems to be a bit of “social justice” happening on these social media review sites. It seems that when real consumers encounter exaggerated claims of service and satisfaction – they seem to be motivated to respond. While my personal evaluation of a particular business may have been a 3 out of five – I’ve seen time and time a glowing 5 star -obviously fictional- review followed by a scathing 1 star review. Was the 1 star review accurate? Probably not – but it seems to frequently be issued in response to an undeserved 5 star review.
The worst part about the glowing – but fictitious – 5 star review is that it unnecessarily sets unrealistic expectations for your product or service. While a 3 or even 4 out of 5 star authentic review my not be a huge boost to your ego – it is authentic and not only can it serve as useful consumer feedback but it also sets a more realistic set of expectations for your product or services. This more realistic set of expectations means higher levels of consumer satisfaction which leads to positive online reviews.
After all – authentic online reviews on only a reflection of what is being said about your business in other areas – not only other online sites but offline as well.