Online reviews can be an important part of how people perceive your business, for better, or for worse. Learn what to do when you get a negative review online.
Reviews are a vital part of your online reputation
While we all hope that everyone would want to sing the praises of our business, the reality is that, sooner or later, you are likely to be the recipient of a bad review. Getting a bad review for your business can definitely feel like a personal attack. For many small business owners, your business is your baby. It’s likely that you pour your heart and soul into your business, so it’s only natural that you would want to protect, not only your business, but also your image. Throughout this article, we will take you through six vital steps that will help you protect your reputation and learn how to deal with bad reviews when they do come in.
Step #1. Notice your reviews.
The first step towards managing your reviews is to know that you have them in the first place. More and more research shows that people rely on reviews to make decisions about where to shop and what products to buy. In fact, according to BrightLocal research, 91 percent of people read online reviews; 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and 68 percent form an opinion after reading between only one to six online reviews. With so many people relying on reviews to help them choose which business is even worth going to, it is more important than ever to stay on top of your online presence. Find a process that works for you to encourage, monitor, and interact with the reviews you receive, and make reputation management a part of your routine. You can get started by claiming your online profiles, which will make it easy to spot and manage your reviews. One simple way to start monitoring your online reputation is to claim your TRL listing today!
Step #2. Don’t ignore negative reviews.
While you don’t want to be reactive, you also don’t want to shrink back and hope that a bad review will just go away, because it won’t. Oftentimes, when someone has left a negative review, they just want to be heard or feel valued, and they won’t get either of those things if you don’t acknowledge their review. In fact, ignoring bad reviews is more likely to make it look like you don’t care about your customers. Seeing no follow-up after a negative review will plant seeds of doubt into the minds of potential customers, and ultimately, makes the negative review seem more believable. Don’t forget, it’s not just the upset customer who sees their review and your response (or lack thereof), it’s also your potential future customers. People will feel reassured of your professionalism when they see that a complaint has been addressed, and it looks good when you are able to handle a potentially negative situation with humility and grace. It might feel uncomfortable in the moment, but in the long-run, you get the opportunity to display your customer service skills and your commitment to the people you do business with. This is the gift a negative review gives you, and is a great chance for you to showcase your best side in a very public space.
Step #3. Take a step back before you respond.
While you definitely want to respond to all negative comments in a timely manner, you don’t want to be reactive and jump to your own defense without taking into regard the feelings of your customer or the way your reaction will read to others. Receiving a negative review can be shocking, and yes, it can feel personal. At the very least, take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is a customer who is feeling hurt, unsatisfied, unheard, or somehow mistreated. It can be easy to forget that the person on the other end of that comment is just that — another human being, and not just a faceless screen set on ruining your business and reputation. Take a minute to gather your thoughts before you start typing. Maybe try to write out your response in an email to yourself, and read it out loud to see if your tone sounds balanced and professional.
Step #4. Apologize.
Responding to a negative review is a great opportunity to show yourself the way you want to be seen. In this moment, it is crucial to empathize with your customer and apologize without placing or accepting blame. Even if you feel there has been a misunderstanding, it’s likely that you really are sorry that the customer did not leave your business on a happy note, and that’s a great way to start your apology! You don’t need to assume blame; you just need to showcase understanding and care. A well-crafted apology can be an excellent way to turn a bad review around and show off your business’ credibility. According to a report conducted by Harris Interactive, business owners have an opportunity to turn an upset customer into a loyal advocate. The survey found that when customers received a reply to their negative reviews, 33 percent turned around and posted a new, positive review, and 34 percent deleted the original, negative review. Mistakes happen, and what matters now is how you take responsibility for the customer’s experience. If you accept the mistake and put your customer first, people will feel more confident about trusting you with their business. Keep your apology brief and sincere. Remember, you do not want to accept or place blame here; simply offer empathy and a chance to give the customer a different outcome.
Here is one example of a short but effective apology:
“I am very sorry that you left our business without having experienced the excellent customer service we strive to give. Our customers are important to us, and we would like the opportunity to chat about what went wrong and see what we can do to make things better. Please email me or call me at…”
Step #5. Take the conversation offline.
While it’s important to give a timely reply directly in response to your bad review, end your apology with an invitation to clear things up and rectify the situation in a private setting. If the reviewer is genuinely interested in chatting, you have a great opportunity to turn this situation around, and if they are not, you avoid a public internet showdown, which, while extraordinarily entertaining for those not involved, definitely looks bad for you and your business. Creating a space for you and the reviewer to hear each other out can give you the opportunity to give them a new opinion about you and your business. While you make a public apology in response to the bad review, always end with an invitation to email or call you to see what can be done to turn things around.
Step #6. Learn and implement change when necessary.
Make sure you are listening and learning when negative reviews come in. While some reviews might be the result of an unreasonable venting session, that won’t always be the case. Another value you might get from negative reviews is the opportunity to receive some unfiltered feedback. If the topic of customer service, or timeliness, or store cleanliness always comes up, those are things you are likely going to want to address. Hearing feedback and doing something about it is a responsible and professional way to handle your business, and customers will notice that you care about their experience. In some cases, taking a noticed negative and making a change will make you and your business look even better than if nothing had been wrong in the first place! People respect someone who can learn and change, and customers certainly want to feel heard, appreciated, and valued.
Take the first step towards being in control of your online reputation with Top Rated Local!
Your business’ online reputation is undoubtedly linked to online reviews. Top Rated Local has the resources you need to stay on top of your reviews and reputation. Best of all, listing your business with Top Rated Local is free!