A new online platform is hoping to give small businesses a measure of protection against fake reviews, a problem its creator says isn’t taken seriously enough by tech giants such as Google.
The BOM business directory serves as a reputation management platform that moderates reviews to create a more constructive and trustworthy environment.
Creator Gee McCracken’s decision to build BOM followed one of her own onerous experience on the internet.
“I have had a few different franchise businesses, as a franchisor. My last one was flying high in 2017 and right at the peak of our growth we received two very nasty reviews and two fake ones. Those four reviews pretty much brought down the entire business and I will never forget the fights I had with Google and a couple of other review platforms.”
The BOM platform screens every review aimed at a business, a move Ms McCracken said gave them a chance to engage with disgruntled customers in a thoughtful environment.
Business owners can review the comment and open a private dialogue with the customer prior to the review being published.
“Unlike other review platforms, we don’t publish a review as soon as it’s posted — we alert the business owner about the feedback and open up the lines of communications with the customer,” she said. “Negative reviews often result because customers get highly charged on emotion and lash out on the internet, giving them a place to vent. Making them feel heard often solves the problem.”
Apart from the emotional toll, negative reviews have a direct impact on the bottom line of a business, with Ms McCracken citing research showing four out of five consumers will change their minds about a recommended purchase after reading negative reviews online.
“Businesses risk losing as many as 22 per cent of customers when just one negative article is found by users, with that figure rising to 59 per cent with three negative reviews, she said.
“Unfortunately, angry consumers sometimes forget that small business owners have families and are doing their best, so we are trying to bring in some balance in the way problems are resolved.”
The BOM platform also provides consumers with incentives, in the form of points redeemable as cash-equivalent rewards, for providing fair and constructive feedback.
“Rewarding consumers is also important, especially when they help a business improve through their feedback.”
With 2.1 million Australian businesses and products already on the platform, new businesses can sign up to the directory for free.
However, access to the review-moderation service and ancillary services such as SEO optimisation on BOM comes at a current annual subscription price of $99.