Hell hath no fury like an unhappy customer. For anyone who has worked in a customer service position, we know this to be true. Still, no matter how carefully or strategically you run your business, it will happen. Someone will write a negative online review about you.
Part of owning and operating a business is realizing that you cannot please everyone at all times. There will always be that discontented customer with unrealistic expectations. Perhaps they’re an unpleasant person. Perhaps they just had a bad day. Regardless, today’s Internet age empowers anyone to become a critic using one of the many online review sites like Yelp, Google Places, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, MerchantCircle and more.
We’ve all heard that reputation is everything, and that doesn’t discount what’s written online. According to a local consumer review study conducted last year, approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said they trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews made them more likely to use a local business.
Say someone writes a less-than-stellar review about your business online. Do you have a plan in place for handling your online reputation? Here’s what you can do to minimize the effects when someone posts a negative review online about you or your company.
1. Keep calm and respond carefully.
Yes, you work hard and are passionate about your business, but don’t let your emotions get the best of you in this situation. Remember that what’s written on the Internet is usually permanent. Many review sites have strict rules about not deleting or moderating reviews without good cause. Potential customers are online, watching for your business’s interaction with other customers and by lashing back or ignoring a rant you could make the situation even worse.
Simply ignoring a poor review could allow word to spread to other potential customers reading about you on the Web. A negative comment left ignored can perpetuate additional negative comments. By addressing the comment or review head on, you can identify the issue and often transform it into a positive review by showing the customer you take their complaints seriously. Before responding, take time to construct a well thought-out and polite response addressing the concern.
2. Learn from the experience.
Take this bad review as constructive criticism and learn from your customers’ comments. Remember that the customer believes he or she is right; and as much as you may not like to admit it, some of them may have valid points. Even if this is not the case, you should always strive to improve a customer’s experience with your product or service. Tell the customer how you are going to address his complaint and what the next steps will be. Take this as an opportunity to gain valuable insights and tips from your community.