For years now the sales and service industry has promoted the importance of positive on-line reviews such as those found on venerable Angie’s List. But the times they are a changin’.
Numerous lawsuits against the “open” and “honest” review provider have culminated in this, most recent, allegation. Here’s the link for specifics:
Business is a race for relationships. Our credibility is our gold standard among customers. And as the old saying goes, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to lose it.” Given the already proven and predatory practices that organizations such as the Better Business Bureau exercise (see link: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/business-bureau-best-ratings-money-buy/story?id=12123843) the smartest tactic for any small business is to utterly disregard these rubbish organizations and focus on what matters: Real people. Real feedback. Real reviews. Unmolested positivity.
From inception companies like Angie’s List promoted a value proposition that capitalized on the fact that most small businesses simply don’t authentically know their customers. “Let us get the reviews for you,” it said. “Let us promote your reputation for you,” it said. One less thing to worry about right? Thousands of business owners ate it up simply because the transactional nature of their business failed to foster and maintain loyal relationships with existing customers! Worse yet it gave a company in Indiana the ability to manage their brands.
Your brand is your best asset. It never makes sense to outsource the things that differentiate you in a market. Own them. Refine them. Promote them. On your terms. In your words. In your ways.
Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau have well-documented track records of favoritism and pay-for-positivity practices that will not last in a market in which the consumer is increasingly empowered to find and research quality companies on their own terms.
It’s time to build your business reputation on proven, thrilled, loyal customers. You’ll have to work harder to stay connected to them. You’ll have to work harder to demonstrate loyalty. You’ll have to work harder to specifically define your brand. But in light of the manipulated alternatives you’ll be better off for it. It will be yours.