Since we’re just about to approach the height of the reputation management craze I figure now is an excellent time to talk about what happens when it doesn’t matter again. Or will it?
Recently, I blogged about my stay at The Union Bluff hotel in York Beach, Maine which was somewhat sub par. This particular stay made me think, though. What happens when reputation doesn’t matter again? I know it sounds absurd and as some one who teaches and provides reputation management services, it may not be all that self serving to pose this idea.
The point I am making is this: The internet is, in a sense, written in ink. Online reputation management really isn’t like the “word of mouth” we so often liken it to. Word of mouth isn’t “written in ink” it’s more like the disappearing ink we find in novelty stores. Sure if you’re great for a time people will talk about it… maybe even create a buzz. But with time, that memory fades — the ink disappears.
Sure Google shakes things up now and then and their recent “booting of 3rd party review sites” has caused a stir and once again we need to reshuffle our review strategy, but eventually it may begin to lose it’s importance — or at least it beg’s the question: How many reviews does it take to make you good or bad in the eyes of the consumer?
In the beginning, most dealer’s had very few consumer reviews so when one of us got a few hundred, it really stood out! I know it’s true there are still many of you out there who haven’t bought in to online reputation. But soon, it won’t matter wether or not you’ve bought in consumers are writing reviews for everything now and google will continue to make it easier for them to do so.
Cut to the chase… The point I’m making, is that at some point I don’t believe there will be much value to the consumer in online reputation or in reading online reviews. The simple reason for this is that most businesses are mostly good. What happens when everyone has a few thousand reviews? Everyone will average toward a pretty good experience based on the scoring system’s used by review sites. The only thing that will stand out is anyone doing a really awful job.
Think about it – reputation guru’s tell you a few bad reviews help you look legitimate because no one believes you can be perfect all the time.
So then we’re left with little value from consumer reviews. My Union Bluff scenario is a perfect example of this. They have mostly good reviews and I yet I had a poor experience. Is my experience indicative of their overall service? Or the other peoples good experiences? Does the fact that they were not interested in following up with my negative experience or attempting to reach out or apologize in any way mean that I or you or anyone shouldn’t do business with them? Or are they just really like everyone else? Really good most of the time… until they’re not.
Sp perhaps, when everyone has thousands of reviews, no one will be great again.