There’s no running or hiding from it, it’s never going away, and it has a drastic impact on your business. The evil, the scary, ONLINE REVIEW. Dealing with a bad online review is frightening, but is essential for businesses to respond in a timely and appropriate manner. Ignoring a bad review doesn’t make it go away, and responding to a bad review inappropriately could potentially put you out of business. Every review, whether negative or positive, is an opportunity to engage your customers, win them back, or get them to become an advocate for your business.
The (Review) Haunting: How to Deal with a Bad Review
Hey, no one is perfect. We all make mistakes, but how you handle your bad review can make or break your business. Unfortunately ignoring the review won’t make it go away, and could come back to haunt you if proper action isn’t taken. First, take some deep breaths and give yourself a cooling off period. Your first reaction might prompt you to say something that you will later regret. Take some time to calm down and then respond.
1. Write the reviewer a private message
Don’t become a ghost when it comes to your online reputation management. Even if you get spooked by a bad review, it’s highly recommended you respond to every bad review.
Here are some guidelines to follow:
- Take the old fashioned approach that the customer is always right.
- Introduce yourself, thank them for the feedback, and apologize for their bad experience. Acknowledge their concerns and promise to address the issues they mentioned.
- Avoid making up excuses or sounding defensive or condescending.
- Invite them to come back and give your business a second chance.
- Be careful of offering them a discount to get them back in the door. This could encourage others to fake bad reviews in order to get a discount.
- Be careful of offering them a discount to make up for the bad experience. You wouldn’t want your reviewer to misinterpret the offer as a bribe; risking another bad review. Depending on the business and situation, you could offer to fix the problem. An example would be a bad car repair or computer repair review.
2. Publicly respond
If you tried reaching out privately and didn’t receive a response, the next step would be to publicly respond. The approach should be very similar to the private message. Give yourself a cooling off period, acknowledge the feedback, apologize, and let them know you’re addressing the issues. By responding to the reviewer, you are adding a human touch and demonstrating that you care about your business.
Pumpkin, Spice and Everything Nice: Leveraging a Good Review
A good review is the pat-on-the-back every hard working business owner wants to hear. All of a sudden the sky is bluer, the colors are brighter, and life is as sweet as apple pie. You might get so excited that your first reaction is to thank them for the review and offer them a discount or to ask them to tell their friends, but this is NOT recommended. Here are a few recommended tips for leveraging a good review.
- Acknowledge and thank them for the good review.
- Highlight the positive feedback they gave you in your response.
- Keep the feedback coming by asking them what else you could improve on. This might seem counterintuitive, but by doing this you’re showing that you truly care about improving your customer experience.
(Not) Bad to the Bone: Building Street Cred
People are going to review your business whether you like it or not. Having a business profile and found on the major review sites like Yelp and Google+ is essential to your business’s success. But if you don’t have any reviews, you don’t have any street cred. How do you get the word on the street? It’s not recommended to directly ask, so here are a couple suggested ways to build an online reputation.
1. Activate your business account
If you haven’t already, you should activate your business account. Yelp collects business information from third party data providers and creates a business profile regardless if you create one or not, so you might as well take control and activate or claim your business listing.
2. Offer check-in specials
Yelp offers check-in specials and Yelp Deals to get people in the door. Chances are they will tell their friends about the deal and now you’ve got more chances to make a good impression.
3. Post signage to your store window
Having a visual reminder in the window prompts people to look up your business on the review site. Just letting them know you’re on the site gets your customer curious about what other people are saying. Like I said before, people more often than not will want to chime in and give their opinion.
Tales from The Crypt: DON’T Fake It ‘Til Ya Make It
Whatever you do; DO NOT post fake reviews. Many companies out there have paid for fake reviews in order to boost an online presence. It was recently reported that the New York Attorney General’s Office fined 19 companies thousands of dollars for posting fake online reviews. Customers rely on these review sites to be truthful and posting a fake review is seen as false advertising.
Yelp indicates that people want to give positive feedback, so there’s no need to be scared off by online reviews. As our society becomes more inundated with advertising, selling to each other has become a part of our daily lives. Your customers are active on social media channels reviewing and sharing tips with their networks. Whether it’s a conversation at the local coffee shop or an online conversation, we can’t help ourselves to chime in and give our two cents. Make sure you are listening to the feedback your customers are giving you and use it to your advantage.