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Tuarae Payne Professor Malcolm Campbell English 1102 8 April 2013 How Are Negative Online Reviews Affecting Your Small Business? You and I have a business-- Lets call this business, Leroys Fix-a-Tire. Leroy was your grandfather who used to fix tires back in the early 70s. Today, we have a website, we can come to the customer providing roadside assistance, we guarantee service completed in 30 minutes or less and all we do it fix tires. We sell new and used tires and guess what? Well fix a flat one too. I know this is something you always dreamed of doing to honor your grand pappys name! We all know that this is the digital age and. Eeveryone and their Uncle Otis are is using a computer. So when it comes to business, the web is the number one way to locate the our business, see what the our business is about, purchase goods from the our business, and to see what other people are saying about the our business. Good or bad, people can say what they want about a our business and its all on the World Wide Web for everyone to see. Small business is majorly dependent on its reputation. If the consumer isnt satisfied, the consumer will either, not return, voice their concerns personally to the company, or air their disapproval via social media or review sites. Therefore, consumer review sites and social media have a larger impact on the community surrounding the business, it being an outlet for people to say what they want. If not reconciled, your business could lose customers, not be able to gain new ones, lose monetarily, and ultimately fail! Then To Now

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Word of mouth was one way to get information to your friends about your amazing finds while visiting your favorite clothing store, Forever 21, Leroy back in the early 790s. Today, word of mouth is a thing of the past. According to Googles Zero Moment of Truth, 70% of women consumers surveyed said they researched products online before taking the next step in purchasing or conversion of a product. 83% said they consult review sites and user ratings before making a purchase decision (qtd. in Johnson). Small business is directly affected by customer reviews on review sites or social media. With information so easily accessible, a company must resolve the issues of unsatisfied customers as soon as possible to save the image of the business. If the identity of a business is bruised, then ultimately the owners identity is as well. It is vital that as soon as a ny business is aware of a not so favorable review, the company jumps into action and resolves the problem. Any issue left unresolved is a wound left open for infection. Companies must be on top of the reviews people leave and be quick to reconcile any unwanted or negative feedback from customers. Failure to do so leaves a large possibility for the company and its sales to plummet. Many businesses, especially small businesses, have their entire public image defined by these reviews, especially from websites like Yelp, observes Justin Singletary, the Chief Executive Officer of reputation management leader Reputation Changer. Yelp and review sites like it rank high on search engines, so when a consumer complains about a company on one of these sites, that sets the tone for what other consumers think about the company, (qtd. in Reputation Management AlertNewsBank.com).

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Hence, since this is true, small business owners, like us, need to take it upon themselves ourselves to reconcile the relationship with the customer either by contacting the person privately or resolving the issue directly on the review or social media site to retain the customer and to show others who read it that your company cares. Recent studies have shown, like that of Googles Zero Moment of Truth, mentioned above, that more than half of customers are looking to see what others who have frequented the business are saying. In this economy people want to be cautious about the choices they are making. Yes, people are spending a little more, but they are spending more wisely than before. Large businesses are not affected like that of a small business. Small Business vs. Large Business Large businesses have a team of communication professionals on their side that they hire to manage social media sites and to assure all Google reports are found and dealt with immediately. Small business on the other hand is probably just you, or just and me., and were even business partners. This is our first business out of college and, umm, yea I think reviews are probably the last thing that were thinking about. We need to advertise and get all our ducks in a row; we just made our first $5,000! Then we just happened to go to Facebook to tell the world how we areLeroys Fix-a-tire is growing (though this is probably not a profit by any meansthose darn business loans), and scroll across a woman who is so hysterical and how expresses how she will never come back to your business again. We werent even aware of this. Its been there for three months! How is this affecting us? Who else has seen this? Is this why we have only made 5000 bucks?
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Assistant Professor of business at Harvard University, Michael Luca, recently did a study of the effects of Yelp ratings on various restaurants. He found that the one or two star ratings had a 5 to 9 percent effect on revenue on chain restaurants. While those ratings had a minuscule effect on chain restaurants, local restaurants where greatly impacted because little was known about them, therefore people trusted what the reviews were saying (Luca). Because large businesses can have 100 times the amount of consumers than a small business, it only makes since sense to say, a few bad reviews can be detrimental to a local restaurant, or even to the business you and I have started. No one knows about us, so consumers go online to find out who else has visited. Often, a negative review is the only real online content for a small business, which makes it the first thing a prospective customer sees when conducting a search on Google or Bing, notes Singletary, CEO of reputation management leader Reputation Changer. (NewsBank.comqtd. in Reputation Management Alert). How Business Is Affected By Majority? Take Apple for example. Back in the 90s, Apple could have been considered one of the worst products on the technology market. Well, maybe it was or wasnt the worst depending on who you talk to but Apple products werent selling because the software wasnt up to par with Windows. Everyone talked about how awesome Windows was. Ninety days before bankruptcy, Steve Jobs, owner of Apple, decided to revamp his products and take a leap of faith. Now, Apple is the largest technology retailer because people heard about how great Apple had become and is leading the way over Windows. Its all about what the majority says! The majority in the 90s went with Windows, nowadays, Apple is in the lead. No, Apple is not a small business but its example of how the majority rules! If 6 of out 10 people say your small business stinks, then to

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the reader, it stinks. The research is self-explanatory. People look to see before they buy no matter if it is a restaurant, a boutique or a local gymLeroys Fix-a-Tire. As the consumer who reviews this information, you have to make your own choice either try it for yourself or believe what is being written. There is nothing to disagree with. You can disagree with some who claim that maybe the owners friends are writing positive reviews for them, but at the end of the day, majority of people are going to go with what other people say. This is how things become popular or crash in the first place. Can You Trust These Reviews? On the contrary, there is a small debate about whether or not people can trust these reviews. People are even hired to review a book or go to a store then leave their opinions onf different review or social media sites. An article written on CBC News says, Jennifer Desloges, owner of Jade Electrolysis, signed a monthly $350 contract with Yelp to enhance her business's listing on Yelp.com. After asking her customers to weigh in, 17 of them posted glowing, fivestar reviews. But Yelp says that reviews from users who haven't written many reviews are filtered out in favor of reviews written by regular users of the site. "We are not a pin-up board where you drive by and put something up and you leave, said Yelp spokesperson Stephanie Ichimose, We are a community." (qtd. in Do you trust online reviews?). Either way it goes in my eyes, people are watching and the we, the representatives of our company, must do something to show that they we are there for the customer. Whether or not the review is false, the other hundreds of people who see the review dont know that a person is trying to sabotage your business or possibly just be mad at that the worldthey would assume the review is fact. You know the old saying, the customer is always right. So the next step
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would be to do what you say? Reconciling can come from admitting fault, fixing the problem in whatever way it was wrong, responding immediately to disgruntled customers, and offering some form of resolution which may be even 15% off their next purchase. How to Repair and Reconcile Well, its to reconcile the relationship with the consumer. Reconciling can come from admitting fault, fixing the problem in whatever way it was wrong, responding immediately to disgruntled customers, and offering some form of resolution which may be even 15% off their next purchase. So Wewe see that there truly is evidence that supports the fact that small business can be greatly damaged by reviews, so how do we repair it? Well, Jason Keith, Director of Marketing Communications at Affinnova, has decades of experience in business world. His resume includes years of hands on experience working in public relations and social media for VistaPrint. He has given us Seven Ways to Combat a Negative Online Review (Keith). Four out of the seven I have found common amongst other experts in this area is: [1] Focus on customer service. If you strive for excellence in house while people are actually visiting your business, you may have a greater chance of winning them over so they dont even have to write a negative review. We all like to be treated well where ever we go. [2] Know what is being said. Google your business name, look on Yelp.com or Yellowpages.com to see what people are saying about your company! If your company is on Facebook or Twitter, see what comments people are leaving. You will be able to respond directly on the spot to reconcile and rectify the situation and everyone who visits

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your page will see that you actually care;, you took the time to attend to their needs. Even if its not a bad comment, respondse to the good onespeople love this! [3] Never go on the offensive. How we would love to let that bad-mouthier have it. How dare they slam the business you poured your heart and soul into? The most important thing here is to try and win the customer back, you know, make things right. Besides, the last thing you want to do is give them a reason to go update their last review with even worse remarks. In these kinds of public forums, the customer is always right applies. [4] Offer a real solution. Anyone can say sorry, but to actually offer a customer a discount or a free product will surely regain their trust. Who doesnt like free? I love free! Remember, to allow it to be displayed publicly so that the other customers can see you have their best interest at heart. Even if its not a free product, give them a number where they are able to contact the owner or supervisor directly. We all feel important when we talk to the bug guys! Does this seem too hard for us or does it take too much of our time for you? Well, on Reputation.com, a reputation management company, they say that they are able to do, provide, and/or repair the issues stated below: Unfair news articles Disparaging blog posts Hostile forum comments Outdated legal issues Blatant smear campaigns Exaggerated reviews
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They even stated on their website that online reviews can cut revenue by 9% (Reputation.com). Businesses like this are exploding all over the internet. While there are few reliable research

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studies about whether businesses like these really work, Reputation.com has been backed by New York Times and CNN just to name a couple. If you dont want to follow the Seven Ways to Combat a Negative Online Review, it may be worth a shot for a small fee of $49/month. I think I would rather take my chances and stick with Keith and his seven ways than to pay a monthly fee. In Conclusion Small business, like Leroys Fix-a-Tire, is are affected by online reviews every day whether good or bad. If the negative reviews arent reconciled immediately through prompt response, the company can be doomed and there may be no way of coming back. Unlike large companies, small businesses have to go above and beyond to ensure the welfare of all consumers they come into contact with. A few reviews can send a company down a slippery hill. Small businesses need all their customers (especially us because weve only made $5000 so far) and they need the outspoken ones to voice positive reviews. Yelp.com, Angies List, Yellow Pages, Facebook and Twitter are just a few of the vast choices of where people can let their voice be heard. And if a small business feels as if they cant handle the task of finding those reviews and redeeming the companies themselves, there are numerous amounts of companies that can help restore the reputation and brand markings of your business. I encourage all of us, who now or and for in the future plan to work for a companyof Leroys Fix-a-Tire, or have dreams of owning their own, to take into account the way technology has grown and is growing. Be aware of the digital whispers from one person to another; be on top so that you we may intervene and reconcile the situation before it creates a larger financial problem. So when you we are asked, how are negative online reviews affecting your business?
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You We can answer, weIve got it all under control, or better yet, they arent affecting me us at all!

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Works Cited Do You Trust Online Reviews? Your Community Blog. CBC News, 11 Jun. 2012. Web. 02 Apr. 2013. Johnson, Lori. "Google and the Zero Moment of Truth." Branding Personality. n.p., 06 Mar. 2013. Web. 01 Apr. 2013. Keith, Jason. 7 ways to combat a negative online review. The Small Business Blog. Boston.com, 28 September 2011. Web. 11 Mar. 2013. Luca, Michael. Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com. Working Knowledge. Harvard Business School, 4 Oct. 2011. Web. 24 Mar. 2013. Reputation.com for Business. Reputation.com, Inc., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. "Reputation Management Alert: Online Review Sites Spell Big Trouble for Small Businesses." Midland Daily News (MI) NewsBank, 7 March 2012. Web. 23 March 2013.