Yelp, Google+, TripAdvisor – if I asked you to tell me about your company’s “online reputation” strategy, these are likely the websites that would come to mind.

These online rating platforms were born of (and have helped usher in) a new era of digital buyer behavior; one that capitalizes on the innate human desire to preview an experience before deciding to invest in it. And who better to trust than someone who has walked this very path before you?

Unfortunately, online reputation is a complicated opportunity (and often a significant issue) for providers of B2B services. But research continues to point to the growing demand for credible, transparent interaction between clients and buyers. That’s why we built ClearlyRated.com.

Experience-sharing is a new pathway for trust

The Gallup organization reports that institutional trust in America is at an all-time low. And it’s not surprising when you consider ongoing data privacy breaches, a heavily partisan political climate, and accusations of (and revelations about) “fake news.”

But as our institutional trust has declined, individual trust has seen a renaissance.

We trust what others have to say more than ever before – especially when they are perfect strangers who, theoretically, have nothing to lose by being honest. Think about the rise of businesses like Lyft and AirBnB – this service-sharing economy would not be possible without a trusted exchange of information between users who rate their experience with a given provider so that buyers can make educated (and safe) purchase decisions.

The challenge? Online review sites weren’t designed with the B2B service provider (or business service buyers) in mind.

Let’s make no bones about it, ratings-based directories like Yelp, Google+ and TripAdvisor are massively popular. Consumer-oriented businesses (like restaurants, fitness studios, barber shops, mechanics, you name it) invest great sums of time, energy, and money to boost visibility and maximize their brand presence to reach buyers who have taken to the internet to help them find their next great experience.

But to a company targeting buyers of business services, the value of these online platforms becomes less clear. What the buyer cares about isn’t all that different (“Can I be confident that I will have a great experience with this firm?”), but the infrastructure that supports online reputation (the review sites themselves) isn’t a trustworthy delivery channel for B2B experience-sharing. Especially when credibility and comprehensivity come into question.

No controls + no validation = brand risk

Perhaps you’re a marketing professional who’s been tasked with managing the appearance of a negative review on one of your company profiles (perhaps one that you weren’t even monitoring until this point). I have certainly been there!

Anyone who has experienced this understands how difficult it can be to manage around a negative online rating. To complicate things further, common review websites like Yelp allow reviewers to remain anonymous – which makes it incredibly difficult to track down and remedy the issue that spurred the poor rating and, in most cases, nearly impossible to validate that the reviewer is even a client.

Highs and lows don’t tell a credible story

You’ve likely seen first-hand that business service clients are hesitant to write reviews on sites that were not designed for them (or for you). And the rare instance where a review is left tends to tell one of two stories: the client is either exceptionally happy with the service they received, or is exceptionally unhappy.

Our B2B buyer research shows that, while the overall star-rating that your company has on a given channel matters, the quantity of ratings that make up that overall score is just as important.

How willing would you be to trust a single 5 star rating from a raving fan, versus 4.5 out of 5 stars based on 30 client reviews? The data suggests that latter would be far more compelling and, just as importantly, more credible.

It’s worth noting that while a single negative review may not appear to tell a credible story (thankfully buyers understand that one person rating your firm poorly doesn’t automatically imply that they will also have a negative experience) our B2B buyer research indicates that negative reviews do have 2x the impact on a buyer’s willingness to consider your firm than positive online reviews do. So, if your firm is being considered alongside competitors, your online reputation and the presence of negative reviews will still influence how you are perceived.

Enter ClearlyRated.com

We created ClearlyRated.com to help bridge the gap between clients and buyers of business services. Our client survey process helps businesses build a comprehensive, transparent understanding of their clients’ experience with their firm, and their Net Promoter® Score provides an easy, quantified rating of their services.

So, we asked ourselves, why not open up that information to buyers?

ClearlyRated.com - the first-ever online business directory that allows you to search for business service providers based on validated client ratings and testimonials

When you search for a firm on ClearlyRated.com – you’ll find validated star ratings and testimonials from current clients who have been asked for feedback by their service provider. Inavero provides independent, 3rd party validation of client lists and survey responses, which means that star ratings are both credible and numerous to help prospective buyers get a complete picture of what to expect when working with a given firm.

At Inavero, we believe that it’s good business to place the client experience at the heart of your growth strategy. ClearlyRated.com is just one more way that we’re helping B2B service providers empower their own clients to tell their story.

Interested in getting your company listed on ClearlyRated.com?

Contact us to learn more about how we harness client satisfaction surveys to help you build your online reputation.