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Consumer power - Main Image

Consumer power – The battle to maintain your online reputation

Written by on 29th August 2014
Category: Business travel and relocation

The power has been passed to the consumer in the modern marketplace. Multiple platforms of social media are littered with new techniques that can make or break a business. There’s an open playing field for the consumer to take advantage of, and in a lot of ways this has improved customer service as a whole. Companies now have to maintain their reputation through various forms of media and that means being instantly reactive to the consumer, and in full view of the world.

So picture this. You’ve been to eat at an up-and-coming restaurant and experienced amazing service, food, drink and a relaxed atmosphere. The bill is presented to you and you happily pay the full amount along with a decent tip. Two hours later, you’re at home sharing your “disgust” to the world on Twitter. You’ve also tagged that particular restaurant in your tweet.

“The food was shocking @restaurant. £124 for three courses of pain. Surely for that price you’d serve up something that had a bit more flavour than Ryvita? #bland #cashback”

And the reply?

“@pantsonfire we’re really sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your experience with us. Please do come back for a complimentary meal on us #sorry #freemeal”

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There you go – a freebie at the touch of a tweet. This isn’t advice; it’s an example of the kind of power the consumer now has. A well-worded tweet, an entertaining review on a popular review website or scathing criticism in the form of a blog can turn viral and serve as a major stain on any business (the more negative it is, the more interest it gets – just ask Jay Rayner). But are more and more people doing it just to get freebies or do they believe the world should know the truth about a business?

In the case of TripAdvisor, that power has become slightly unethical. False claims and defamatory slurs can be posted without moderation and any company can take to the website to mass produce positive reviews that have been created out of thin air. There’s a delicate balance between honesty, promotion and vindictiveness that can only be tracked through relentless moderation.

In the serviced apartment industry, there isn’t a TripAdvisor of sorts. Consumers rely on agents for advice on quality, ratings and facilities. Independent serviced apartment agents ensure quality, as well as updating ratings and facilities through regular familiarisation trips. As an intermediary between property operators and clients, agents are completely unbiased towards any particular property because they don’t own any of the properties in their portfolio. Ultimately, it’s agents that provide a more trusted source of review as there’s never a hidden agenda beneath the information shared.

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The truth of the situation and it may sound cliché, but knowledge is power. At SilverDoor, we encourage every single one of our employees who visits a serviced apartment to provide commentary on the area, property and apartments – and we do this all over the world. This ensures a constant stream of updates, as well as regular featured apartment instalments on our blog. Industry standards can become convoluted for the best of operators and that’s why it’s important to collaborate with partners to ensure that we’re constantly improving the product. This is just one way of countering reviews that you have no control over.

It’s up to a business to embrace the ever-changing landscape and be flexible in doing so. What would your business do in the face of online adversity? Let us know in the comments section below or via our social media channels.