To sum up this entire post in three words: Reviews are Important.

When buying a product online, what is the most important factor for you?  Price?  Perhaps not; if you can’t actually touch the item in question, the cost is not always the best indicator of quality.  No, these days it is all about the reviews.  Again: Reviews are Important.

Here’s a mundane story about towels: I was looking into buying some new towels for the B&B earlier on this evening and, of course, the first thing I checked – before even looking at the prices – were the reviews.  I immediately discounted any where the reviews consistently reported poor quality – any item below 4 stars was not even clicked on.  In the end I put my trust into the honesty and the integrity of hundreds of strangers and made a pricey investment.  My entire decision was based on the experiences of others and I can only hope, as with every online purchase that we all make, that these reviews are all ‘real’ and true accounts.

For any business – but especially small, independent businesses, reviews are vital.  Of course good reviews help increase customer base and revenue, but even critical (but honest) reviews are useful in that they help businesses to learn, improve and grow.  But the key word here is ‘honest’ – if a review is not a true account of a customer’s experience then it just kind of messes everything up.

Here’s another story concerning why Reviews are Important: During our first winter here at Rigg House it was super-snowy.  A proper winter.  Power cuts and candles, snowdrifts blocking the back door, cabin fever and the beginnings of Rigg House B&B morphing into the Overlook Hotel.  I bloody loved it.  Anyway, some folks booked a night (via booking.com), but by the time they arrived the snow was so deep that their car got stuck at the bottom of the drive, about 100 meters from the front door.  Jay went out and dug them out and a decision was made that the guests would cancel their booking (with no charge) and then attempt to continue on their journey to Ayr.  It was all very amicable, as far as Jay was aware.

So, a day or so later we get a notification of a new guest review – bear in mind that at this point we’d only been running the B&B for less than 6 months so the reviews were really important to us.  It was the guest who had got stuck in the drive.  He had given us 5 out of 10 for everything:  5 out of 10 for coffee, 5 out of 10 for breakfast, 5 out of 10 for comfort etc etc.  You get the idea.  I think I swore a few times.   I emailed him and asked, politely, why had he given us such a terrible review when he hadn’t even stepped onto the front doorstep.  He replied that he had been in ‘a bad mood’ when he wrote the review and said that he would amend it…which he did indeed do, but only by changing everything to 7 out of 10.  Thankfully booking.com deleted the review altogether when I explained what was going on.

I think (hopefully) this is quite an extreme example of Bad Reviewing, but other issues do occasionally pop up – and they are always ones which could have been easily solved if mentioned at the time.  In regards to any form of customer service, before leaving your review, always give the business the opportunity to rectify any issue.  This is just common courtesy, be it an ebay transaction, a restaurant visit or a stay in a B&B.

Above all – despite this post focusing on the Dark Side of reviews – please simply remember to leave honest reviews for any independent business you visit or service you use.  Think about all the businesses and services local to you which you have accessed in the last six months – hairdressers, mechanics, cafes, gyms etc – and take a few minutes to leave an honest review of the product, service or experience you had.  Each and every review will help that business to grow more than perhaps you realise.

If you have stayed with us here at Rigg House B&B, can we please ask you to leave us a review online – it doesn’t matter whether it’s on Facebook, Trip Advisor, Google Maps or wherever – just simply more online reviews would be great.  And if you booked on booking.com, airbnb, expedia etc, please remember leave us a review on there.  As a small independent business, honest reviews are vital to our continuing success and growth – let us know what you liked and what we could have done better.  I do believe that honest reviews are absolutely the key to a successful business.

Please just remember to always Review Responsibly!