The day has come. A one star review has hit you hard. It may not be affecting your businesses’ bottom line yet, but it sure has been a blow to your entrepreneurial spirit.
How could this happen to you? You’re on a first name basis with your customers. They always come to you first with any concerns. Right?
Even with the best customer service a bad review is inevitable, and it’s something you must address directly. We live in a digital world where peer reviews are influential and abundant, and information moves fast and furious. Reputation management is part of running and growing a successful business.
Take a look at stats:
- Nearly 9 in 10 consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business and 39% do so on a regular basis.
- Businesses should have at least 10 reviews to satisfy 85% of potential customers.
- Trust is dependent on the reviews being authentic. Quality is equally as important as quantity.
(source: 2014 BrightLocal study)
If you’re suffering from bad review shock there is a ray of light – a little goodwill goes a long way.
According to a Harris Interactive survey of the customers who received a response from a company after posting negative feedback, 33 percent turned around and posted a positive review of the brand, and 34 percent deleted the original negative review.
If you remember anything from this post let it be this: Don’t ever ignore a bad online review.
Let’s dive into the five steps of how to respond to a negative review you can take right now.
Step 1: Regroup with your team
Before typing away, meet with your employees to discuss the complaint, hear from key staff involved in the incident, and draft a response that takes the reviewer’s concern or complaint into account.
Step 2: Respond thoughtfully (and with help)
Address the complaint politely and with facts. Keep it short and sweet. People can become overwhelmed by a long response. Have someone review your response for grammar, punctuation and tone before posting.
Step 3: Reach out directly
If possible, attempt to contact the reviewer by email or phone if you have their information and offer them a reimbursement or ask about how else you could rectify the situation. They may even be appreciative enough to remove the negative review.
Step 4: Resolve privately
If the comment is unfounded, try and resolve the issue through private messaging. If you feel a public comment is necessary, present your case as simply and politely as possible. Do not attack the reviewer. Remember, potential customers will be reading your comment and you want to leave them with a good impression.
Step 5: Reward with a sincere thank you
Responding to a positive review is as important as responding to a negative review. Thank people who leave positive feedback. A simple “thank you” and “we look forward to having you back soon” suffices. Many sites advise against giving a gift to a reviewer. However, what you do offline will be appreciated by your loyal customers.
Consistently asking customers to leave reviews is also a good practice. Sometimes a simple ask is all it takes to motivate someone to take action. Just don’t run after them with your iPad asking for the review. You will look aggressive and desperate.
The most important way to ward off bad feedback is to be proactive. Be consistent and positive at all times. People want to hear from you and know they are spending money on a business that cares. There’s nothing worse then visiting a business’ Facebook page to find no one’s home with no posts or pics shared for weeks on end.
You can build your brand’s reputation with these next steps:
- Become a trusted thought leader in your industry with consistent blogging on topics of interest to your customers, clients and the media. Address their needs and pains.
- Post and engage daily with followers on your social media accounts. Be courteous, consistent and responsive.
- Get involved in charitable activities in your community. Be authentic and transparent.
- Respond to all criticism, feedback and reviews (positive and negative).
- Create a loyalty program with attractive benefits and email those customers on a consistent basis, whether weekly or monthly, stick to it.
Listen and learn from your customers. They have something to teach you and you don’t have to hire a market research company to do the work.
Three ways customer feedback and engagement can help you grow your business:
- Social media comments can inspire new products or services.
- Questions on social media can be used to create a FAQ’s page for your website.
- Social media photo contests and hashtag campaigns can enhance your reach and make people feel good about your company.
In the long run, the advice we give when dealing with a negative review is no different than what we would tell the client with the best reviews in the world – be courteous, responsive and proactive. Just like you would in your offline business.