Why are the opinion of strangers so important to us? And why do we value these one-way discussions, opinions, from strangers, to make purchasing decisions? I recently did just that to choose between two different bluetooth headsets on Amazon. They were similarly priced and had both gotten good reviews on a tech blog, so I let the user comments tip the scale. To be fair, spending a couple of bucks on a bluetooth headset shouldn’t take up a large investment of my time, so why not use this metric? It’s fast and easy. It turns out that I’m not entirely happy with the bluetooth headset I bought, even though the large majority of reviews were positive. Looking back at that purchase, what I really wanted was the ability to have a discussion, not just read comments.
Now let’s take a look at you small business. What are people saying about you online, and how do you think others are interpreting that information? I have to imagine that if you were at a party and somebody was talking about your business, you’d jump in to be part of that conversation. If somebody was saying something that was not true or that you didn’t agree with, would you keep quiet and hope that the person hearing the information would ignore it? I doubt it!
When it comes to your small business – it’s not about reviews, it’s about conversations. Your current and prospective customers really want to speak with you. Comments are fine, but what people really need to see is how does your business address somebody who is unhappy, or that you show genuine joy that somebody tells you that your business is great. That conversation is going to happen whether you want it to or not – if you try to shut down your customers in one place, they’ll simply pop up someplace else. If you are a small business, the best thing you can do is have a place where people can go to communicate with you and have conversations – regardless of the topic. A place where you will have an equal voice to discuss things. A place where you get to virtually be at more parties hearing 3rd party conversations about your business. Because if you don’t have that place, two things will happen. First, your competitors will. Second, your customers – if they have something to say – will find a place to say it regardless. And if your customers don’t have anything to say, you better figure out what you’re doing wrong, because they should.