Publilius Syrus once said that reputation is more valuable than money. In the digital marketing landscape, reputation is money. In fact, search engines will sometimes rank content higher based on a domain’s reputation rather than the character of its content.
For small startups and local businesses, reputation and word-of-mouth advertising plays a major role in their sales funnel and acquiring new business. This is why it’s so devastating to receive a bad review from an online business review site. As Warren Buffett stated, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to destroy it.”
But bad reviews are not necessarily the final nail in the coffin. Rather, they open up opportunities to improve your customer experience and connect with individuals on a greater level. Follow these 10 tips to decide how you should handle your next bad online review.
It’s important to respond promptly to any complaints. This displays your commitment to customer experience and how much you value their input. This also presents the opportunity to diffuse the problem as quickly as possible without gaining lots of exposure from it.
Considering the fact that 92% of online shoppers read customer reviews, it would hurt your reputation far worse to simply leave a bad review hanging without a response. In fact, that user will most likely be checking for an active response and may be more willing to resolve their bad review if you respond in an appropriate amount of time. You should always make your customers feel valued.
The Service Recovery Paradox
The service recovery paradox occurs as a result of resolving a bad review. Through successful service recovery you could elevate someone’s customer experience level higher than it would have occurred if the negative experience never existed. The service recovery paradox also brings on stronger brand loyalty and increased word-of-mouth advertising.
Consider a Private Response
Some instances require a more personalized approach to resolving an issue. Yelp and many online review sites allow you to contact reviewers privately over email. Reach out to customers and see if you can’t meet up or talk privately to discuss solutions.
Always listen to their side of the story. Offer compensation if you’ve felt there was any wrongdoing. Leave a public comment in the timeline to drown out the bad review. You might see that bad review dropped soon enough.
Remove Defamatory Content
Google and Yelp rarely remove bad reviews so as not to impede on their user experience, but as anyone who’s been on the internet understands, defamatory content is everywhere. Wording counts here; if a comment acts as a statement more than an opinion, you may have an argument that it was slanderous. Contact the review sites to see if they can remove any defamatory content and they’ll set it up to a review process.
Monitor Social Activity
It’s important to monitor the social activity of your customers to engage them on channels they use most. Part of combatting bad reviews is encouraging positive reviews. Consider using social software, such as Social Sprout and Hootsuite to provide a better understanding of your target audience’s social activities.
Set up a Google Alert for anytime your business is mentioned. This will allow your business to be proactive in any complaint it receives and ensures your business is responsive to consumers needs. Be genuine in your responses and people will react positively.
Understand How Each Review Site Operates
Yelp processes each review through a filter before it determines whether to publish the review. Yes, yelp has editorial standards. Understanding how each review site operates will help you determine the importance of a bad review.
Consider the website TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor ranks websites based on how many stars they receive. Negative comments will not necessarily affect TripAdvisor rank, but anything under 5 stars could be damaging.
There Exists an Opportunity
A bad review sometimes reveals a mistake in your operation you might not be aware of. For every customer that posts a complaint, there could be up to 26 angry customers who never spoke up. Resolving these issues will improve your customer experience and help protect your business against more bad reviews.
Encourage Customer Reviews
Always encourage and don’t coerce customer reviews. The Yelp community does not respond kindly to asking for reviews. But other customers welcome the opportunity.
Be sure to promote feedback in-store, through social channels and on your website. Include notes on invoices or hang signs that encourage customer feedback through a variety of channels. Be sure to ask your most loyal customers for positive reviews to drown out any bad reviews you’re receiving.
Promote Positive Reviews
Going a step further, it’s important to promote good reviews to foster brand loyalty. Honor any feedback you receive and reward positive feedback with a promotional item or a promoted social share. Include links on your website to positive reviews you wish to promote. This will leave other customers desiring to engage with your brand.
Understand it’s Inevitable
Maybe that customer wasn’t a fit for your business or maybe he was just a jerk. There’s no way to please everyone and the more your business scales the greater the amount of bad reviews you’ll receive. Displaying professionalism and poise will ensure that your reputation won’t be hurt as a result.
Drown out any bad reviews with positive reviews and point them out to audiences over these websites. Keep in mind that users who read online reviews are already close to making a purchasing decision. Having a ton of positive reviews on display will support their own confirmation bias and offset any negative review they might encounter.