What Glassdoor Ratings Tell Customers About Your Brand

At one of my recent brand strategy retreats, I asked everyone in the room to raise their hand if they were aware of glassdoor.com.

Less than half lifted their hands.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, glassdoor.com is one of the fastest growing job and recruiting sites, and it includes a database of millions of company reviews provided by employees. For someone looking for a job, glassdoor.com provides insights into what is good, and not so good, about companies s/he may be considering. Specifically, employee reviews provide insights into the quality of leadership and the health of a company’s culture. For the discerning candidate, a company’s glassdoor ratings will determine whether s/he will submit a resume or accept a job offer.
If management is unaware of glassdoor.com, or if it is dismissed merely as site for whiners and crappy employees to vent grievances, they do so at their company’s peril. Not only do glassdoor ratings influence the quality and quantity of people applying for positions at a company, it is also an additional filter prospective customers now use to decide whether or not to do business with a company. Why? Read on.
Negative employee reviews spook prospective customers
In the brand decision-making journey, prospective customers take several things into consideration, two of which are product quality and service delivery. Customers want the confidence of knowing that products they buy will perform to expectations, and that the customer service experience will be attentive, competent and dependable.
When a prospective customer googles a brand (company) name, it’s becoming more common for a company’s glassdoor ratings to appear near the top of the search results. If a company, for example, has a 2-star rating on a 5-star scale, it indicates trouble in terms of the health of a company’s culture. A poor company culture could be a sign that employees are disgruntled, not fully engaged and may not deliver the best customer service experience. If, however, a company has a 4- or 5-star rating, prospective customers will feel more confident about doing business with the company.
A leader in denial
A former customer of ours was very interested in improving the health of his company’s culture. Our first step was to organize and initiate an internal brand and culture audit to measure employee engagement, productivity, morale, communication, and the company’s ability to attract and retain top-performing employees. In the process, we learned that the company was plagued with more than twenty damaging reviews on glassdoor.com. Employees were grumbling about autocratic, micromanaging leadership with an “us versus them” culture and, in one particular office, unacceptable working conditions. (Several who worked at a facility in FL complained that the building they worked in lacked adequate air conditioning for the summer heat, and that the offices and restrooms were rarely cleaned.)
When this was brought to the attention of the CEO, he claimed all the reviews were the work of one rogue employee, and that he was in contact with the site to have the reviews removed. Several days later, we found nine reviews from employees praising the company (all posted on the same day), which was an obvious strategy to offset the negative reviews. It backfired. Employees took to the site again with a vengeance, one posting: “It’s pretty pathetic when management forces a bunch of people to post positive reviews on this site. It’s obvious because all the nice posts were made on the same day.”
Unfortunately, the CEO lost respect among nearly all employees, was forced to resign and the company had to replace him. Today, if you were to google the company’s name, its 1.8-star glassdoor rating of 38 employees appears at the top of search results.
Question: If you were this company’s prospective customer, would such a low rating make you think twice? Second question: If the company’s glassdoor rating was four stars, would it boost your confidence?