A bad online review can have serious repercussions to the business owner. Whether you provide a product or service, your online reputation is just as important as your personal reputation. While we cannot control customer testimonials online, there are ways to secure damage control.
If you choose to ignore bad online reviews, you will only be hurting the company’s reputation and your business in the long run. When responding to feedback, you have to remain as professional as possible.
- The first response is to not panic. Respond to any bad online review in a calm and professional manner. This will show how your company is determined to rectify the issue, while showcasing your business in a better and more productive light.For Example:
Bad Response:Hello Casey, We cater to those that are not familiar with Craigslist and prefer to shop in our store. We are sorry you had a bad experience.
– The Owner(It was hard to find a bad comment to a negative review so I had to make one up. Practically all bad reviews had no comment at all. Many companies had racked up a series of bad reviews without a single comment from the company.)Good Response:
- Is the complaint legitimate? Companies should consider, when trying to respond to a negative review, how credible that commentary is. Is the review repeated 3 and 4 times, can you see the reviewer’s past comments, are they consistent and make sense? If not, you have recourse and can contact the website’s owners. (see below for some links)
- Keep your responses as professional as possible. Try not to accuse, refute, or blame. In fact, industry experts recommend that you simply restate the company policies and speak to how you will right the wrong.No matter how offensive the review is, always assume that the customer might be right. (I don’t believe that the customer is alwaysright.)For example, if a customer is upset about shipping times on a certain product, you can the repeat shipping policy, send a link and comment that delays can be expected at times. You can also add how committed your company is to their customers and work hard to make sure shipments are made on time and accurately. An option might be to offer the customer free shipping on his or her next order. This may calm the situation but can also let other customers know that you are serious in meeting customer demands within time and budget.You might even have the customer change their rating from 2 or 3 stars to hopefully 4 or 5.
- Might a Phone Call Help? If the review is so damaging, like a hotel review about a room having bed bugs, experts would say that you should call the person, if you can, rectify the situation offline and ask that the review remove the posting.
- Don’t Apologize Immediately. At the same time, do not be too defensive and immediately offer an apology to the customer or client in question. The power of words simply goes a long way. According to industry critics, a quick and professional response can restore your trust in existing and potential customers. It can also earn you some ardent online supporters along the way.
- Respond No Matter the Review.You should to respond to any review whether it’s a positive, negative, or neutral feedback,. Send a thank you via a private message or publicly on the review website. When customers are directly contacted, they feel business owners are going that extra mile to assist them.Here is an example of someone that didn’t even use the service but still reviewed. Notice how she mentions that she got a personal note from the owner.
- Contact the Site if it is a Legitimately Bad Review. If, however, certain reviews border on slander or personal attacks, you do have recourse. You can contact Google, Yelp, or any of the website review sites and ask that they remove the offending review.
- Monitor Your Online Reputation.To help preserve your online reputation, be sure to review and follow these reviews. Be sure you are monitoring them as often as possible; some of the sites will even let you choose an option that will email you when a new review is left. You can set up Google Alerts to notify you about new posts or reviews. In fact, the quicker you tackle these reviews, the better your company can compete in this challenging and diverse market. I can’t tell you how often, during a consultation, that I point out some very bad reviews to clients and they are completely surprised.Setup Google Alerts: http://www.google.com/alerts
- Don’t post fake reviews. Do not get your friends or employees to spam the board with fake or generic reviews. Assume your internet audience is smart and can easily distinguish between authentic and artificial reviews. It make temporarily boost your rating, but you can incur penalties from Google, ie. your Google Places listing might be. Please avoid this band-aid solution at all costs.
- Request Positive Online Reviews.It is up to you and your salespeople to solicit your customers to submit their positive reviews. This can help mitigate the one or two bad responses.You can encourage reviews with:
- Reciprocate with a shared review
- Post signs with QR codes to the web page you’d like to solicit reviews.
- Post reviews you received on your website or business and tell them where they can do the same.
- Request with a link on your email newsletter.
For any business to thrive, it must be able to accept constructive criticism. Online reviews can give help spot problem areas and provide an incentive to improve. This includes better customer service, along with enhanced employee training.