In today’s business climate, online reviews are the currency that makes or breaks a company’s reputation. A single bad review, while not the end of the world, requires a quick and thoughtful response. Do it right, and you might be able to turn a disgruntled one-time buyer into a lifelong customer. Reacting badly plays right into the reviewer’s hands. There’s one thing to keep in mind. The public picks up on someone grinding their ax in a negative review. Where a business owner goes wrong is in taking criticism personally and getting into a tit for tat online exchange. Here’s what you should do instead.
Don’t Let it Fester
When you get a bad review for your product or service, don’t let it sit there for days or weeks. Respond as soon as possible. If you have a chance to correct a misunderstanding or can take steps to publicly make a bad situation good, do it! Don’t let pride get in the way of providing great customer service. Don’t take it personally. Did we say this already? If you can’t say anything nice or take corrective action, don’t say anything.
We’ve all seen it before. Someone leaves an insulting review. The owner responds inappropriately. The conversation turns ugly as tempers flare and soon there’s a full-blown flame war. Keep this in mind. An online public argument never benefits the business. Get the conversation offline as soon as you can. Review sites like Yelp and others force reviewers to provide some kind of contact information that allows a business owner to make personal contact. This is your chance to de-escalate the matter.
Be Polite – That’s All
When you do contact the disgruntled party, be as polite as if you were addressing your mother’s tea party. There is no reason EVER to be sarcastic or insulting, even if you suspect the complainer is mentally unstable. Often, there is merit to the complaint that can be easily remedied. A business owner needs to understand basic human psychology. People just want to be heard. The secret to success: listen, apologize, correct. That’s all. You might be surprised how quickly a bad reviewer turns into a kitten when you push the right buttons. Don’t be afraid to offer restitution in the form of discounts, coupons, or straight out give them their money back.
When It’s Over the Top
Occasionally, a consumer review is so completely vile and over the top that you might be successful in convincing the hosting website to remove it. If you come across one that crosses the line, don’t be afraid to take it up with the powers-that-be. If we’re talking defamation, ask for it to be taken down and maybe even place a call to an attorney.
Whatever your product or service, don’t be afraid to ask customers to leave a review. The vast majority, assuming you’ve delivered on your promise, will offer up five-stars. This doesn’t mean you should beg for good reviews. Don’t be desperate! Just provide a follow-up note telling them where they can leave a rating and comments.
Keep in mind that bad doesn’t always equal bad. In another strange twist of human nature, people might get suspicious if they see nothing but four and five-star reviews, without a single detractor. All good and no bad can lead to suspicions that the reviews are somehow manufactured. A few negative reviews may actually serve to build trust rather than diminish it. Weird? Yeah. Reality? Yeah. The bottom line is an authentic complaint gives you an opportunity to improve your business. Seize it!
Don’t trust yourself to professionally handle a bad online review? Let the crew at Lucid Advertising put our expertise to work to quickly solve the problem. We have a decade-long track record of excelling at all things related to digital marketing.