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Online reviews shape buyer decisions

An effective strategy for responding to online reviews is vital for business and can help companies enhance their reputation and improve operations.

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Consumers are increasingly using online reviews as their primary source of recommendations for goods and services. Engaging effectively with online reviews is an important way for companies to improve relationships and customer loyalty with existing customers and to attract new business. The data and insights gained from reviews can also be used to improve operations internally.  

“Most businesses will have a good experience by opening themselves up to reviews on social media – around 80 percent of reviews are positive,” says Ashleigh Wainstein, director of Social Places.

She says that, realistically, there’s nowhere for businesses to hide online and managing and responding to reviews on social media, even if they are negative, has a positive outcome.

“Reviews are important for brands because they create credibility in the mind of consumers – 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation,” she says. “People looking for recommendations online typically won’t approach a business with fewer than four out of five stars – they’ll simply look elsewhere.

“Generally, consumers will search online for a business near them and these proximity stats have shot up 500 percent in the last two years. When those listings are displayed on search results, the one with the highest review score will get the click to call or navigate to the location.

“Businesses accept the need for reviews and understand that they should embrace them. Not having a review strategy is the equivalent of consumers calling a customer care line and having no-one answer the phone. Companies that don’t monitor reviews lose the chance to win back negative customers as well as get feedback from those who are happy.

“They also lose out on valuable business insights.  Step one is to acknowledge the customers’ complaints or compliments by taking note of feedback from reviews. Instead of using mystery shoppers, for example; decision-makers can use review data from thousands of people to identify what is working in their business –  and what isn’t. It helps them gauge how the company is performing.”

However, the numbers that large companies and brands have to deal with are substantial. In one month alone, some fast food brands in South Africa can receive up to 30 000 reviews.

“From the data we collect we can categorise review sentiment into primary and secondary, positive and negative,” says Wainstein. “We can tell a restaurant, for example, that its customers are making positive mentions about its food and that they are specifically speaking about menu variety and burgers are its most popular menu item.  We can also identify whether customers are most unhappy about service and waiting times.

“For retail chains, we can provide similar information at both a brand level and store level.  We can tell which stores got the worst reviews, what the issues were, and how many pieces of customer feedback they received. The company can then arrange for better training based on these categories, and track improvements over time.”

Wainstein says brands like Spur answer 100 percent of their reviews, as do RocoMamas, Panarottis and John Dory’s. Ocean Basket is also very proactive in answering all customer feedback – from customer reviews on social media to feedback from their website.  

“When dealing with reviews it is key that a response sounds like it’s personal and that the customer feels that they have been heard. We have dynamic response templates based on the sentiment categories of the review which we use as the basis but we then add a personal touch on top of it. Even though we’re starting to use higher levels of artificial intelligence to process and respond to consumers, there’s always a human, personal touch on top – responses go through a check process before they are published.

“Responses to good reviews should include strategic keywords that boost search rankings. With bad reviews it’s important to provide balanced responses that have strong calls to action, taking the conversation offline. All industries – from restaurants and retail to financial services and telecommunications are showing growth in online consumer interaction, so the effective monitoring and management of online reviews is crucial.”

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Lenovo unveils world’s smallest desktop PC

ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano is powered by 8th generation Intel processors and SSD storage, catering to flexible working

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Lenovo has introduced the world’s smallest desktop PC, the ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano, to the South African Market. It says it is designed to support diverse workplaces with the power of a full-size desktop and the space-saving convenience of a laptop.

“The ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano is further proof of Lenovo’s commitment to helping small businesses drive efficiency in their operations,” says Thibault Dousson, General Manager at Lenovo South Africa. “In South Africa, SMEs make up a third of the country’s GDP and play an integral part in boosting the economy and creating jobs. Lack of capital, investment, resources or support are among the major challenges faced by our country’s entrepreneurs. 

“Lenovo wants to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses through giving them better access to critical tools and services, such as our financial services offering and leasing option. The ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano is ideal for small business owners as it is reliable and powerful yet compact and easily transportable.”

Delivering powerful performance in an ultra-portable size, the ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano is the most compact commercial desktop series in the world. Compact models are one-third the size of the ground-breaking ThinkCentre Tiny, at just 0.35L in volume.

With fully functional USB Type-C Gen2 and USB 3.1 Gen2 ports located on the front and back of the device, multiple displays, docks and other hardware options can further boost productivity. The ability to be powered using just one cable to a USB Type-C monitor makes the M90n-1 Nano ideal for a clutter-free workspace, whether it be placed behind a screen or under a desk.

The ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano is MIL-810G SPEC tested – built to withstand extreme conditions including shocks, drops, dust and humidity. The desktop’s HW TPM 2.0 chip encrypts data to keep sensitive data secure, while its Kensington lock slot enables users to physically secure the device to an immovable object, protecting it from theft.

With its Modern Standby feature, users can receive emails, VoIP calls and instant messages while remaining in standby mode. When ready to commence work, the M90n-1 Nano resumes full functionality in under one second.

These features make the ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano an easy fit across all office environments, or wherever space is limited, and staff are mobile. The ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano also reduces energy consumption by as much as 30 percent annually over the ThinkCentre Tiny. 

Powered by the 8th generation Intel processors and backed by SSD (solid state drive) storage, the ThinkCentre M90n-1 Nano offers diverse connectivity and multi-user options to keep users connected.

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Hackers target hotels

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Kaspersky’s research of the RevengeHotels campaign aimed at the hospitality sector, has confirmed over 20 hotels in Latin America, Europe and Asia have fallen victim to targeted malware attacks. Even more hotels are potentially affected across the globe. Travelers’ credit card data, which is stored in a hotel administration system, including those received from online travel agencies (OTAs), is at risk of being stolen and sold to criminals worldwide.

RevengeHotels is a campaign that includes different groups using traditional Remote Access Trojans (RATs) to infect businesses in the hospitality sector. The campaign has been active since 2015 but has gone on to increase its presence in 2019. At least two groups, RevengeHotels and ProCC, were identified to be part of the campaign, however more cybercriminal groups are potentially involved.

The main attack vector in this campaign is emails with crafted malicious Word, Excel or PDF documents attached. Some of them exploit CVE-2017-0199, loading it using VBS and PowerShell scripts and then installing customised versions of various RATs and other custom malware, such as ProCC, on the victim’s machine that could later execute commands and set up remote access to the infected systems.

Each spear-phishing email was crafted with special attention to detail and usually impersonating real people from legitimate organisations making a fake booking request for a large group of people. It is worth noting that even careful users could be tricked to open and download attachments from such emails as they include an abundance of details (for instance, copies of legal documents and reasons for booking at the hotel) and looked convincing. The only detail that would reveal the attacker would be a typosquatting domain of the organisation.

phishing email sent to a hotel impersonating a booking request from an attorney’s office

Once infected, the computer could be accessed remotely not just by the cybercriminal group itself — evidence collected by Kaspersky researchers shows that remote access to hospitality desks and the data they contain is sold on criminal forums on a subscription basis. Malware collected data from hospitality desk clipboards, printer spoolers and captured screenshots (this function was triggered using specific words in English or Portuguese). Because hotel personnel often copied clients’ credit card data from OTA’s in order to charge them, that data could also be compromised.

Kaspersky telemetry confirmed targets in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, France, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Thailand and Turkey. However, based on data extracted from Bit.ly, a popular link shortening service used by the attackers to spread malicious links, Kaspersky researchers assume that users from many other countries have at least accessed the malicious link – suggesting that the number of countries with potential victims could be higher.

“As users grow wary of how protected their data truly is, cybercriminals turn to small businesses, which are often not very well protected from cyberattacks and possess a concentration of personal data. Hoteliers and other small businesses dealing with customer data need to be more cautious and apply professional security solutions to avoid data leaks that could potentially not only affect customers, but also damage hotel reputations as well,” comments Dmitry Bestuzhev, Head of Global Research and Analysis Team, LatAm.

To stay safe, travelers are recommended to:

  • Use a virtual payment card for reservations made via OTAs, as these cards normally expire after a single charge
  • When paying for a reservation or checking out at hotel desks, use a virtual wallet, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, or a secondary credit card with a limited amount of debit available

Hotel owners and management are also advised to follow these steps to secure customer data:

  • Conduct risk assessments of the existing network and implement regulations regarding how customers data is handled
  • Use a reliable security solution with web protection and application control functionality, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business. Web protection helps to block access to phishing and malicious websites while application control (in white list mode) allows to make sure that no application except the white listed ones can run on hospitality desk computers.
  • Introduce staff security awareness training to teach employees how to spot spear-phishing attempts and show the importance of remaining vigilant when working with incoming emails.

Read the full report, RevengeHotels: cybercrime targeting hotel desks worldwide, on Securelist.

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