Consumer Psychology, Customer Reviews and Online Reputation

You might assume that people form views about reputation from CEO’s car, the décor in his office or the Michelin stars at the restaurant he owns, but picture this:

You and four friends attend a restaurant, each ordering a main and an entrée. The meals arrive and they’re all great, except for one, which is cold but otherwise tasty enough.

You finish your meals and leave the restaurant. Little did you know that someone at your table has given the business one star on TripAdvisor, and titled the review “Have they heard of a microwave?”.

You think back – there were ten meals ordered, nine of which were exceptional. Isn’t this a 90% strike rate? Why is the businesses deserving of only one star?

You’re all thinking, “don’t be stupid, surely this doesn’t happen”. You’d be wrong, think again.

Three months later, your friend orders a microwave from an online appliance retailer and selects express shipping (3-5 days).

It’s COB on the 5th day, with no microwave in site. Your friend goes online (you think he’s looking for their support line) when really he’s logged into a product review site and is drafting his one-star review.

Little does your friend know, the driver working at the courier company responsible for delivery of the product had a heart attack en route only 30 minutes ago. Further to this, the product was set to be delivered on the third day, but the external logistics company encountered systems failures and had to shut down processing for a day.

Your friend has finished drafting his review and presses submit. The review reads:

“1 star, that’s generous. Company XYZ are nothing but thieves and conmen, they promise delivery within 3-5 days and it’s COB on the 5th. There is no excuse for this sort of conduct, which I believe to be misleading and deceptive. They said 5 days and their time is up! I’m going to report this to Fair Trading and the ACCC. I’m not sure how scams like this are allowed to operate! Be aware and avoid company XYZ at all costs.

On the morning of the 6th day, the courier company delivers the microwave and advises your friend of the events surrounding non-delivery yesterday. Further to this, the appliance retailer calls and offers a 50% discount on future purchases as compensation for failing to meet the delivery time.

Unfortunately for company XYZ, these review sites generally don’t allow for reviews to be deleted and within 24 hours your friend's post has gained 168 views. The review will remain indefinitely and be viewed by thousands.

Take the second example, extreme as it may be. Based on a 2011 American Express Survey 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase due to learning of a poor service experience. That means of the 168 views, 131 potential customers have bailed on company XYZ to purchase appliances online.

These examples coupled with the relevant statistics are enough to end the blog here, as they unquestionably illustrate the importance of protecting Online Reputation – but we’re not done.

As you’ve seen above, consumer psychology is shifting. You’ll hear less from your satisfied customers and know more about your unhappy customers, only of course once they’ve published their feedback online for everyone to read. Now feedback is feedback, negative or positive and should be used to drive businesses towards continual improvement. Feedback, however, is not using the word scam 67 times to inflict as much damage as possible to the business.

When customers engage in these actions, the need for content removal services is certainly heightened. What is often forgotten is the value of quality search engine optimisation techniques to both improve business listings and protect against attacks designed to damage online reputation.

At Internet Removals, we recommend that all businesses devote time to learning about and employing SEO before the problems arise, rather than after. While content removal is the cure, SEO can often be used as a preventative treatment to mitigate damages if and when they occur.

If you’re a business owner in 2017, you should treat your Online Reputation like a pane of glass – it’s imperative to your business, it’s fragile and it’s always vulnerable to attacks.

Be prepared for the thunderstorm (of online reputation attacks) by employing preventative methodology and having content removal resources available. If you’re on top of it, you’ll weather the storm and your business will survive. If not, you’re in for more than just a few puddles, you’ll be one of many businesses that fall victim to the disaster and never recovers.

Published by Internet Removals, Gold Coast. More information contact Internet Removals on 1300 039 196.