(This post originally appeared on Inc.)
I have a client – a physician with an office in my city’s downtown area – that’s not very active online. You can’t blame her. She spends her days serving her hundreds of patients and doesn’t waste a lot of time online that takes her away from doing that. The model has worked – she’s successfully run her practice for more than 25 years.
But this is 2019 and unfortunately, one patient felt that he wasn’t served so well by her. He was unhappy with how long he had to wait and the treatment he received by my client’s staff. So he went online and – like so many others who feel unable to express their feedback face to face – wrote a scathing, anonymous review on Google.
This is the problem that reputation management firms are trying to solve. One of them, Chicago-based ReviewTrackers, just raised $10 million (which adds to $9 million previously raised) to help their customers of all sizes be better at dealing with online reviews.
“Online reviews are driving more and more purchase decisions as 94% of consumers now say that a negative review has convinced them to avoid a business,” wrote the company’s CEO in a blog post. “With consumers trusting online reviews more than ever, and businesses without adequate tools to manage them, we have a significant opportunity to step in and operationalize that process while driving significant revenue growth.”
Bad online reviews continue to be a growing problem for many businesses and the platforms that facilitate feedback such as Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, OpenTable, Yahoo and Google reach millions of potential customers that could potentially take their business somewhere else for as little reason as a negative comment or two. But many customer service experts agree that responding quickly and positively to a review, with the promise to take action while showing gratefulness for the feedback, helps mitigate the potential bad effects. But how to do this if you don’t even know the review exists?
ReviewTrackers has been around since 2012 and says it has more than 65,000 customers. But it’s not the only game in town that’s competing in the rapidly growing online reputation management space. According to a Venture Beat report, companies such as Signal Media, Podium and Zen City have raised more than $80 million in the past few years to build their own platforms – many of them AI-based – to monitor and respond to negative reports.
For a business owner, this is very important stuff.
According to a 2018 report from online marketing firm BrightLocal, 97% of consumers search online for local businesses and 85% of them trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Almost half of them even require a four-star rating before they choose a business! So even just a lousy review or two can really have an impact on your business.