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All posts by Kelly Smith

Yelp wins again! Really?

Yelp Makes Me Angry!

Yelp Makes Me Angry!

The lawsuit against Yelp has been dismissed, again. But are they really not guilty?

Over the years numerous lawsuits have been filed against Yelp and we have posted a few articles about them here on our website, but none of them have ever resulted in a decision against Yelp. This one was a class-action lawsuit claiming they were extorting small businesses by demanding money for them to show positive reviews, instead it was claimed they were showing mostly the negative ones.

The reason is was dismissed? Not enough evidence.

Well they never talked to us! We could probably give them a list of 20 businesses that we have personally visited with that all claimed that Yelp had demanded that they, “buy our marketing program in order to show more positive reviews.” We can’t tell you how angry people get when discussing their experience with working with Yelp!

There is still a lawsuit by the investors of Yelp into the practices of the management of the company in using these tactics, but that is still ongoing. Maybe something will finally come out in that case. It is our opinion that this is one of the most egregious companies out there that is in a very powerful position to misuse its influence to make money from businesses large and small.

In an interesting article by WebProNews.com, they do a fairly detailed analysis of the entire situation. They also point to some of the tactics used by people involved in the reputation industry and how some of them are getting paid to leave positive reviews for businesses, one even claiming he is paid $200 for every positive review. We have found that to be true.

One of the things we do is look at who has left reviews on a business and analyze the track record of those reviews: date, time, distance from each other, etc. Many times there is a very distinguishable pattern happening with these reviews. If we find reviews that are done on the same day hundreds of miles apart, it’s easy to see that these are not legitimate reviews. If we see the same type of review done for the same type of company (for example both are auto dealers) that can also be highly suspicious. If we see reviews that have a picture of a sexy girl giving the review as their photo, that is an instant red flag. There are many more things that can be quite obvious upon a casual examination of the reviewer.

All of this leads to the obvious conclusion that reviews are a powerful influence on business today. Reviews have literally become the single most important thing in marketing any business. When something so powerful is misused in any way, it taints the picture for everyone regarding the legitimacy and usability of the tactic. We are certain that somewhere down the road there will be a restricted or legitimized way to make sure that every review is real and can be trusted. Until that time, every business must take great care about the entire review process of their business.

The 5StarMax Reputation Management review system is something that any business can use to make sure that customers are properly taken care of and the issues are dealt with, while not breaking any terms of service of any review site. Our system relies upon real legitimate users, customers, clients, patients (or whatever else you want to call them) and makes it easy for them to leave a positive review on any review site like Google, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Manta, Kudzu, etc.

We make it easy for businesses to acquire reviews in a multiple ways by using android tablets, postcards, business cards, letters, emails, website links, QR codes, etc.

One of the biggest complaints that businesses have is that their customers just don’t leave reviews about them. Our system makes it very easy for them to do so. If it is a positive review they are encouraged to leave that same review on one of the major directories and all they have to do is click one button to take them to the right place. Once they get there all they have to do is click one button and it will copy everything that they have said and place it on the new directory location. Some of these sites require them to sign in with an account, and others allow them to leave it anonymously. This has changed several times over the past couple of years for a variety of reasons.

Negative reviews are handled in an entirely different way. A video will pop up of the owner expressing his concern regarding their experience and urging them to contact the owner, front office or salesperson they dealt with. In reality, an email has already been sent to the owner regarding the issue and they can call and deal with it on the spot. This powerful tool has been used multiple times to save a customer and prevent negative reviews from being posted. We’ve even had some customers who were so impressed that the business actually cared about them, that they have changed reviews that they had posted about them.

The most important asset any business has is its customers and by saving one customer and one negative review, it can result in dozens, hundreds or even thousands of additional customers.

Contact 5StarMax.com.com today at 775-722-4949 for a complete free analysis and demonstration of the system for your business. In our opinion it’s one of the single most powerful tools any business can have today.

Yelp Will Pay For This

yelp-bad-reviewsFor those businesses that we have talked to over the years complaining about the tactics Yelp has used to allegedly extort money to try and hide reviews, your redemption, or at least a degree of satisfaction, may be near. ValleyWag magazine has reported that the tactics used by Yelp have now resulted in a lawsuit that may have rather dramatic ramifications.

The lawsuit is coming from the investors themselves when they learned the tactics used to make the money for the company. They also learned that many of the leaders of the company sold out before it was all revealed and that raises all kinds of problems for them. Apparently the so-called transparency of the company to the investors was quite opaque in a few areas.

The hope here is that all of this will result in a company that will deal with local businesses the way they should and not resort to unethical tactics to line their pocketbooks. If you or I did such things it would result in jail time. Let’s see if someone is truly held accountable for these things.

The other best option is for each company to take control of their online reputation and we can recommend the 5StarMax system to generate positive reviews by promoting them all over the internet and social media. The negative ones can be handled in way that the customer feels appreciated and needed and turned into a fan if they once had a negative experience.

Call today at 800-766-0059 to see what needs to be done to improve your online reputation.

How Not to Handle Negative Reviews

negative reviews for hotels

Hotel Chain seeks to prevent negative reviews by charging customers $500 for each negative review!

A hotel chain in Hudson New York called Union Street Guest House thinks they have come up with a way to prevent negative reviews popping up about their business. They warn guests that they will be fined $500 for every negative review posted by anyone associated with any wedding party that stays there!

Does this sound logical? Does this sound like the best way to handle this? Isn’t there a better way to deal with negative reviews?

The short answers are these.

1-This is not a good idea for any business. Yes there are idiots customers that frequent every business but if you just want to drive away business by telling everyone that comes here, “we will treat you the way we want and offer any kind of quality we feel like, and if you don’t like it, we will charge you for it” well, that is simply not good business. A review is usually the last act a customer has to hold the businesses feet to the fire and make them do what they advertise they are going to do. A business that does not react well to negative reviews probably needs to alter it’s philosophy and the way they treat customers. This business seems to be unwilling to cater to customer desires and in the end, I predict that it may cost them their business as no one would want to live under those conditions.

2-By installing a review management system, negative reviews can be controlled and dealt with in a proper manner. No business wants negative reviews about them because they cost money, but threatening customers for leaving negative reviews will not help the business. It would be better if they knew ahead of time about the issue and handled it in a proper way before it gets posted online.

If your business would like more control over the entire Review process and prevent negative reviews (as much as possible), please go to our website or call 800-766-0059 and see a demonstration about these issues. We want to help you get more customers through positive reviews, and deal with negative reviews in a proper manner.

Photo from Facebook

Restaurant Reviews

negative reviews for restaurants

Getting Good Reviews is Important For Restaurants

Many restaurants have complained about the plethora of negative reviews about their establishments and how they have increased over the years. This is not just because the reviewers are more attuned to social media and reviews sites, it has to do with their own habits and practices. This article on The Meta Picture paints a startling examination as to the reasons why. It is definitely worth the read for everyone who owns a business, not just restaurants.

What can be done about it? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Post a note near the entrance of the restaurant about how they have seen that people who use phones during their eating time take twice as long to finish their meals and complained that the service was poor and the food cold.
  2. Request that anyone who uses a phone while eating only do so after they have finished ordering their food, unless it is an emergency (but if it was a real emergency they wouldn’t be at the restaurant).
  3. Install a review control system with table tents on each table that has a QR code to a review feedback page on the restaurants website where they can leave a review.

Call us today at 800-766-0059 and get started taking control of your online reviews.

How Valuable is Your Reputation?

Digital Reputation CurrencyDoes your reputation actually convert to dollars? Is there such a thing as reputation dollars?

Since the digital revolution began over 2 decades ago a number of things have popped up on the horizon that have never been envisioned before. Right now there is great discussion regarding the value of a business’s reputation and how to convert that to actual dollars. Think of the concept for a moment: you receive a rating from a customer for your products or services and that rating converts to digital currency that you are able to spend somewhere else.

That might take a while to sink in because never before has such a thing been possible. There is an article concerning this in Wired magazine that is definitely worth reading.

Take a moment and consider some of the possibilities and ramifications. On a positive note it would more surely enforce the idea that businesses take care of their customers more. They deliver the products or services that they advertise and they take care of the customers making sure they know-how to use it, understand it, enjoy it and fulfill their wishes with the purchase.

Talk about leveling the playing field! One single customers opinion would have an even more dramatic effect than it already does right now.

But there must be a way to control the obvious downsides. If there’s that much control or power in digital reputation currency, what’s to prevent unethical competitors, irrational customers and disgruntled employees from trying to do damage to the business? My first thought is that there would have to be proof of an actual purchase of whatever product or service was discussed. In the digital world this type of thing is possible.

But I am concerned about the “house of cards” foundation of the whole concept because it is not based upon actual physical experience, it is something that is in a digital file on some computer hard drive that could be manipulated or lost. Yes of course there are such a thing as Raid backup drives and security systems, but that still doesn’t prevent someone from manipulating the data.

The purpose of this blog post is really only one thing: every business needs to be profoundly aware of the power that consumers have to sway public opinion and to build or tarnish your reputation. Whether something like this digital currency regarding reputation actually comes to pass, is yet to be seen. The current ability of customers to leave positive or negative reviews regarding their experience exists right now and has a very profound and powerful effect upon every business. Businesses who are not actively collecting, monitoring, reacting to and promoting positive reviews are going to be left behind.

SEO doesn’t work anymore. What people want are reviews about their experience with you. They want to see what others have gone through, what their experience has been whether positive or negative. People don’t want to lose money. They don’t want to make a mistake. People rely upon consumer’s reputation more than ever before and it is imperative that businesses take an active role in this entire process.

Many companies I visited with are making drastic changes in their business and how they treat their employees and customers based upon the reputation reports that they have received. In one sense it is a very good thing. There is even a new system where employees rate their bosses and create reputation from an internal point of view! I predict it will not be long before any business run by an arrogant and power-hungry monster will be humbled to the dust unless it changes its ways.

If you are looking for a system whereby you can collect, monitor, and promote positive reviews while dealing with the negative ones, give us a call today at 775-722-4949.

Your digital reputation currency is already active with you realize it or not.

Yelp Gets Busted

Negative Review

Yelp has abused the review process

For years, Yelp has had a running battle with many businesses and the reviews that are posted about those businesses on their website. The problems with the way Yelp has handled it are legion, but they have always won their case in court. Today that changed. This video on the Washington Times website shows a newscast where Yelp was required to reveal the names of some negative reviewers because the plaintiff argued that they were not real reviews but were competitors making false claims.

After having worked for several years in the Reputation Management and Reputation Review industry, we applaud this decision by the courts, simply because of the tactics used by Yelp over businesses. It is our opinion that they have acted in such a manner that seems to border on extortion, requiring people to buy marketing services with the hopes that these negative reviews will be “lessened”, which doesn’t seem to be the case.

Also, the anonymity of the net has resulted in the lowest form of humanity and degradation with horrific posts of the basest form. Although Benjamin Franklin enjoyed anonymity with his Silence DoGood letters, he was a man of character and honesty (for the most part). Our society has lost most of that and the ability of anonymous posters whose only desire is to gain more money by slandering the opposition is, in our opinion, not something that is protected by free speech rights.

If you are suffering from negative reviews in your business, please call us at 775-722-4949 and let us help you build a 5-Star Reputation online.

Search Engine Optimization vs. Reputation Marketing

search engine optimization, reputation marketingAs pioneers in developing Reputation Marketing systems, our sales team often runs into the objection “But, I already have someone working on my SEO”.  The misconception that all things related to managing a business’s online presence are the same is amusing, frustrating and resolvable.

Perhaps the simplest way to distinguish the difference between SEO and Reputation Marketing is to acknowledge that SEO is more mechanical and factual, while Reputation Marketing is more opinion and emotion.  And, when it gets right down to it, people narrow their choices based on facts, but actually buy based on emotions.

Another distinction is clear from the names we put on these functions.  “Search Engine Optimization” is a clear indication that the target of the effort is search engines.  Reputation Marketing, on the other hand, is directed at real people.  Mechanics vs. Opinions.

SEO has one objective; getting a business’s website to rank well in Google (68%) or any of the other search engines (32%).  Reputation Marketing presents the business through the eyes of people who have actually experienced it.  Their opinions are absolutely critical to the very success of a business – regardless of any SEO efforts.

SEO is like advertising.  A business can put up billboards, buy newspaper ads, run spots on radio or cable TV.  Thousands of dollars can be committed to making people aware of the business.  The fact remains, over 80 percent of people will still check out a business online before initiating a transaction.   If they see others are displeased, or even offer tepid reviews in response to their experience, all the advertising in the world will not gain a new customer.

A well-executed Reputation Marketing campaign is steady and never-ending.  It involves monitoring what is being said about a business and providing the business tools with which to encourage customers to express themselves.  It allows less-than-happy customers to get their issues resolved before “yapping on Yelp” and happy customers an easy way to know how to express themselves online.  Over time, the preponderance of positive experiences will steadily have an “SEO effect” by lifting a local business in the rankings.

In fact, Reputation Marketing for a local company is vastly more powerful than SEO.  While SEO is helpful for non-geographically-specific businesses, a local search always has two components; the type of business and the location of the customer (e.g. Dentist, Canton, Ohio).  A national company does not have the advantage of such simplicity and is far more reliant on SEO to even be found, but will still rely on positive customer feedback to be selected.

In the end, the two strategies are not mutually exclusive.  SEO is important to get search engine ranking.  Reputation Marketing is important to establish trust with prospective customers and can supplement SEO dramatically.  When it comes to local businesses, the lines are blurred even more where consumer feedback is treated by search engines in ways that optimizes the possibility that a business will be ranked higher and found more easily.

By Tushar Patel and Roger McManus

Why Your Reputation is Profoundly Important

If you ever wondered just how important it is to have a good reputation or wondered why all the hub bub about this issue, here is a talk given at TED in June of last year by Rachel Botsman calling it “The currency of the new economy is trust” and is all about Reputation Marketing. It is an excellent article and well worth the 15 minutes of view time.

After viewing this, please call us to see how we can improve your online presence and increase the number of people calling you every day wanting to buy your products or services: (702) 726-2427

Garage Door Customer

One of our newest customers is a well-established company that installs and maintains garage doors in homes and businesses. They have a very good reputation and spend a significant amount of money each month in marketing and advertising. One of things that has happened because of the changes in Google and their emphasis on people’s reviews about a business, is that they managed to get a couple of negative reviews. The owner did not like this because they were very proud of their reputation.

Once they saw the system we had to offer here at 5StarMax, they instantly signed up and incorporated it into their business. The unique thing with them is the fact that they had QR codes created for every single employee and when any of them meet with the public to install and service any kind of garage door, they give the customer a business card and asked them for a review of how they did.

It didn’t take long before they began to acquire multiple five-star reviews pushing down any of the negative ones that were showing up. Each month they get a report showing which employees got which reviews and it helps them in not only managing them but keeping their focus on keeping the customer happy.

Accountant using our system

Another customer of ours is an accountant and in his growing practice he wanted to find a way to attract more customers that will help him get the word out. We gave a short demonstration on this product on an iPad from Apple computer. It was fun watching the lights go on in his eyes because he had an idea.

He asked if he could take an iPad around each of the customers as they came into his office and ask for a review on the business. We said of course, that’s what was originally designed for. He purchased our system and then ran out and purchase an iPad.

The interesting thing here is that he, as the owner of the company, felt that this was part of his job, something that he really needed to do. It would not only help him develop stronger relationships with his clients, but he could spot problems right away with any of the other people that work for him.

The entire idea worked very well until it became the busy tax season. He then set the iPad aside for a couple of weeks, in order to finish all the tax returns that he usually handles at the end of every filing deadline. But he did not neglect getting reviews from his customers because he had postcards printed up whereby they could give a review of his business after they got home and weren’t under the stress and crunch of dealing with taxes. All they did was use a QR code reader on their phone which directed them straight to a review site.

He was very pleased with the results and will benefit from it for years to come.