Business owners who ignore online reviews are effectively running their business blindfolded, a Shropshire insurance expert has warned.
Martin Pitchford, said research had shown that more than half of UK businesses suffered unfair negative reviews at some point.
“But the research also showed that 40% of SMEs never bother to check whether any damaging reviews about their business have been posted online.
“These figures show that many SMEs who don’t have an in-house IT or marketing department that can monitor how they are perceived online, are running their business blindfolded.
“And when you consider that 77% of SMEs believe a good online reputation is important for business success, it’s worrying that so many are unaware of how they are being portrayed.”
Martin said even though most SMEs understood the value of word-of-mouth recommendations offline, they made no attempt to counteract negative reviews in cyberspace by creating positive online publicity.
“This area of risk management – or online reputation management as it is known – is new to most SMEs, so it’s unlikely they will have had much chance to think about it.
“But as the online world becomes increasingly dominant in every aspect of life, you need to assess the business risks you could face because of your online profile.
“Once you have taken a closer look at your online standing, you will be better informed about the steps you need to put in place to protect your business.
“Cyber insurance is becoming a vital tool for business owners, and if you don’t have cover in place, or your policy has not been updated recently, now is the time to act.
“It’s easy to see why busy businesses find it hard to keep up with negative online customer reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor, and how angry comments from former employees could be missed.
“But you need to make time to tackle the issue and reduce the chances of potentially damaging opinions and ratings affecting your future business success.”