The value of a brand reputation was shown when Trustpilot, which provides the likes of Nando’s and Boohoo.com with an online review service, secured a $73.5 million Series D funding round in May.
“Every day more than 10,000 consumers sign up for a Trustpilot account, demonstrating the growing influence of customer experience on brand perception,” said Truspilot CEO Peter Holten Mühlmann.
“A brand is no longer just defined by the company, it’s defined by what customers are saying about that company; this is a global trend that businesses cannot ignore.”
Yet ignoring the trend is exactly what businesses in the UK are doing according to Zurich’s SME Risk Index. Although 77 per cent of British SMEs say a good online reputation is important, 40 per cent of them admitted to never checking online reviews of the business.
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Some 15 per cent of SMEs revealed they’ve been on the receiving end of negative comments online, a selection of poor reviews, attacks from rivals or bad press coverage. But with so many companies failing to check and address the feedback, that number could potentially be even higher. The report also found that 21 per cent of decision makers at SMEs had been contacted online by someone they perceived to be a scam artist.
Just nine per cent of firms are paying somebody to manage their online reputation, and an additional nine per cent have plans to appoint someone in the next year. But those that already have someone combing through the web are taking things seriously, as 12 per cent are paying over £2,000 a month to a third party.
Richard Coleman, MD of Zurich’s Commercial Broker business, said: “Online reputation is an increasing worry for SMEs, many of whom are only just getting to grips with managing a social media presence and a website, let alone the effects of negative content posted about their company.
“In a world where the consumer is increasingly guided by what they can easily find out online – think about review sites such as Tripadvisor and Trustatrader – SMEs need to get to grips with their own online presence and how to manage it.”
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