Online reputation is nothing new. People have taken great pleasure in looking up companies online to find out which ones offer the best quality and the best value for money. Websites like Angie’s List and Yelp are consumer favorites, enabling them to decide whether or not they are likely to have a positive experience there. Unfortunately, however, these sites have also caused the demise of many businesses, because they are attractive platforms for people who simply want to leave negative comments for the fun of it. Online reputation management has become increasingly complex, therefore, because an attack can come from anywhere.
Today, however, businesses are fighting back. While consumers can continue to leave reviews, businesses can now also leave reviews about their customers! This has really changed the playing field. New online tools have been designed to ensure businesses have the peace of mind of knowing their customers are genuine customers who will pay their bills on time. What this has done, is create a sense of equilibrium between the business and the consumer, leaving both more satisfied.
To some, it is surprising that this system was not invented sooner. After all, individuals look up other individuals all the time. Employers look up prospective recruits’ LinkedIn pages, people in the dating game check out someone’s profile on Facebook, and college and universities look at blogs to determine an applicant’s writing style. As such, the idea of looking at the reputation of an individual is actually nothing new.
What Does This Mean for the Consumer?
Upon hearing of consumer review websites, many consumers were shocked. However, now that the dust has settled slightly, it has become clear how this actually creates a fairer society, in which the things that are posted online are more meaningful and more relevant. Suddenly, consumers no longer govern businesses, forcing them to deliver a fantastic service “or else”, and then still leave a negative review. Suddenly, businesses are able to place some demands on their customers as well. The result of this, so far, is that both are acting in a fairer environment, which improves the world as a whole.
Perhaps the greatest benefit is that it has put somewhat of a stop on fake reviews. Businesses who fall victim to trolls, who simply leave negative reviews for the fun of it, now have the opportunity to return those actions. While it can be difficult to really identify a troll, even using their online profile can warn others. Not just that, it also gives businesses the opportunity to show their customers that the negative reviews they come across are not genuine and should be ignored.
Clearly, the customer is not always right anymore. Today, commerce is something that both consumers and businesses have to engage in if they want the entire system to work. And by enabling businesses to review their customers, the playing field has finally been leveled, creating an online world that is fair, trustworthy, professional, and beneficial to al