It’s bound to happen.
Unhappy customers in a mobile world are a tough combination for business. Dissatisfied patrons seem almost determined to post a negative review and even worse, review sites permit customers to upload pictures too. So, if your coffee house has an overflowing trash can or the floor needs sweeping, a customer can snap a photo and upload it to a review site for all to see. Negative reviews have become the digital version of calling someone out, and they can wreak havoc on your business.
On a 5-star rating scale, everything that is 3-stars, 2-stars or 1-star is within the realm of a negative review. Why? 3-stars mean the customer is not exactly endorsing your business, plus often there are no comments with a 3-star review. 3-stars certainly won’t compel anyone to visit your establishment; potential customers will continue searching the Internet for the 5-star one instead. With 2-stars and 1-star reviews, there is usually a comment alongside the rating, and more often than not, the commentary will painstakingly describe every aspect of the issue.
So, if your business gets a negative online review, what should you do?
1. Answer the negative customer review
No business wants an unfavorable review; but on the bright side, in giving your business a review, a customer is talking to you and telling you something. Customer conversations are always helpful, and if you take the time to address the issue, sometimes customers will even go back and amend the number of review stars as well as their comments. Acknowledge the bad experience the customer had and respond to the review promptly and politely suggesting something that may help if (s)he visits in future. For example, put in your response, “Please don’t ever hesitate to get the manager on duty involved because the quality of your experience is very important to us.”
Negative reviews are the digital version of calling someone out, and they can wreak havoc on your business.
2. Avoid putting your company name in the online review response
Online review comments can come up when customers search the Internet. An important rule of thumb is to keep your company name out of a response to negative online reviews. Instead of, “We are sorry you had a bad experience at Joe’s Coffee House,” say, “We are sorry you had a bad experience at our coffee house.” On the flipside, for positive reviews, do add your company name in the response as well as a positive aspect about your business.
3. Look for patterns in online customer feedback
It’s easy to brush off a negative review as the result of an unreasonable customer, but there are often patterns in reviews. If one of your locations consistently has complaints about the reception staff, for example, chances are you have a problem. Businesses mistakenly believe they will be able to leave positive reviews on the Internet, and they can hire a reputation management company to remove the negative ones from 3rd party sites. Not so. Customer reviews cannot be taken down just because they are negative, so it’s wise to look for patterns in the feedback and see if there is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed in your business.
4. Know your review sites
The top review sites are household names: Google My Business, Facebook, Amazon and Yelp. Less well known is the fact that you can have an unclaimed or unofficial page about your business collecting reviews, and no one in your business either set it up or is actively monitoring it. Many times we will ask a new reputation management client if they know where their reviews are and in one recent case, they told us, “Yes, of course, we have reviews on Yelp and Facebook!” A quick scan found they had multiple reviews on Google My Business as well.
In another recent example, a patron of one of our reputation management clients had a negative experience and posted a 1-star review on Facebook. He then proceeded to post the same negative review on YP (the online yellow pages) and Google My Business. The lesson is that your customers are pretty savvy, and your reputation management strategy must be too.
5. Use reputation management technology
You must proactively monitor and respond to your online customer reviews. Luckily, there are reputation management software solutions that provide dedicated portals, monitoring services and the ability to answer reviews directly from the portal. You can even use reputation management technology to stream positive reviews into a company website review page while filtering out negative reviews from the stream. This technology allows a business to leverage their positive reviews while actively addressing the negative ones.
The Resourceful Business team recently put together an infographic: Online Reviews: 10 Compelling Reasons to Manage Your Reputation. Download the print version here. It’s a reminder that managing your company’s digital footprint, inclusive of online reviews, is no longer optional.
Originally published on the Resourceful Business blog, June 30, 2017