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The impact of online reputation for SMEs

At a glance

  • It is estimated that £23 billion a year of UK consumer spending could be influenced by online reviews
  • More than half of British businesses say they received negative online reviews, showing that managing an online reputation is a real challenge
  • Zurich has teamed up with Reputation.com to offer new ZTrade customers free expert advice and tools to help manage their online reputation

Social media and review websites – such as Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor and Yelp ­– hold immense power over consumer decisions. The Competition and Markets Authority estimates £23 billion a year of UK consumer spending is influenced by online reviews.

Monitoring and controlling reputation across a vast number of online platforms can, however, be an overwhelming task for SME customers. This is why Zurich has teamed up with Reputation.com to help SMEs maximise the potential of their online presence.

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The impact of online reputation

Studies suggest that 87% of consumers have confirmed their decision to buy a product after reading a favourable review, while 80% have changed their minds after reading a negative review. This shows online reviews, whether positive or negative, can have a huge impact on an SME’s business.

“Reading a bad review can have a huge impact on a reputation, and make a big difference to the choices that potential customers then make. Customers use the internet now more than ever, before making choices about where they spend their money,” says Anthony Gaskell – Sales Director at Reputation.com. “The big problem is that it tends only to be those customers with very strong opinions who are motivated to write reviews, and more often than not, it is negative experiences they are expressing.

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Despite concerns around the potential cost of negative reviews, there are clearly huge potential advantages for organisations who can cultivate a strong online reputation. Dragons’ Den panellist and hotelier Duncan Bannatyne was one such victim of negative online reviews, subsequently threatening legal action against leading travel review site TripAdvisor for what he called a ‘dishonest’ review of his hotel. In recent years, stories have also emerged from businesses claiming they have been ruined by online reviews. In fact, more than half of British businesses say they have been victims of inflammatory remarks online, costing one in five organisations as much as £30,000 to put right. The Competition and Markets Authority published a report in June that showed some businesses are being ambushed by rivals posting fake reviews, and that customers are using the threat of online criticism to win discounts.

Customers who read online reviews are twice as likely to make a purchase as those who don’t, and they spend on average 11% more. A high product rating also increases the likelihood of an online purchase among 55% of consumers.

Keeping things positive

There are a number of very simple, yet effective ways that SMEs can maintain control of their online reputation, and with the help of Reputation.com, brokers can offer their customers the benefit of expert advice.
“We also help track what is being said online, by aggregating comments across a huge range of websites and social media. This allows us to alert our customers to any problems and to help address them quickly. Anthony explains: “Reputation.com works with customers to make sure positive reviews are visible online for their potential customers to see.

“Taking full advantage of this service and advice can help to maximise an SME’s online potential and facilitate growth. And for brokers, offering this free service to your customers could help to differentiate you from your competitors and provide your customers with help and advice they may not get elsewhere.”

SME customers will be offered the chance to opt-in to Reputation.com when taking out a new SME policy on ZTrade. Brokers are encouraged to take advantage of this free benefit to help distinguish their offering when looking to win or retain business.

We’ve created materials for you to use with your customers, highlighting how important online reputation is for SME customers and showing you how you can sign up your customers in three easy steps.

For more information please speak to your local Zurich contact.

Image © Getty

For more information, get in touch

Jason Eatock | Head of SME | 07767 255526

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