The world is not the way it used to be. If a customer had a bad experience at your business, they would tell a couple of friends, and that would be as far as the “negative review” would go. It wouldn’t haunt you forever, an evil specter always lurking, waiting for the next potential customer to find and use as a weighted judgement of your possible value to them.
The crazy thing here is that a negative review of your business holds much more weight than a positive one. People are less likely to believe that positive reviews are a genuine reflection of your business than negative reviews. They feel that negative reviews reflect a more honest opinion, which means that they are considered to be more accurate in reflecting the quality of your goods or services.
This is why managing and protecting your reputation is a BIG DEAL.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your business from both legitimate negative reviews, as well as the truly evil kind, competitor negative reviews. Regardless of how the review came about, regardless of the veracity of the review, all of them need to be addressed and handled accordingly.
Step 1: Find Your Reviews
By doing a web search for your business, you will come up with many websites that offer reviews. Make a spreadsheet for yourself with links to each of the review sites where your business is listed. This will help to keep you organized, and keep you from missing potentially damaging reviews.
Step 2: Address the Negative AND the Positive
Many people only respond to negative reviews, but your positive reviews are the ones more deserving. These are customers that truly and legitimately like your business, and are highly likely to spend more with you and the future. These are your prize customers, and should be treated as such. A personal thank you goes a long way in keeping these great customers on your side.
Negative reviews should be handled very politely online. If you have the ability to determine who left the negative review, you should respond to them BOTH online as well as by calling or emailing them directly. Most people who post a negative review are simply looking for assistance or resolution. By getting back to the customer within 24 hours, you are 77% more likely to get a positive resolution for the customer, and ultimately get the review removed or changed to a positive.
Your online response to the review should be nothing more than that you apologize for the issue that they had, assure them that it is not standard practice, and leave a contact number for them to reach to discuss the issue. Even if they never contact you and you are unable to resolve it, this will still show other potential customers your commitment to resolution of the issue discussed.
Step 3: Constant Review
This isn’t a one and done situation. New reviews can and do spring up at all times of the day and night. Having a set time daily or biweekly, depending on your review volume, to review and address your feedback can help to ensure that you are addressing negative reviews in a timely manner. Making this a part of your routine will also show your other potential customers who are reading the reviews that you are invested in your business, and that you care what your customers think, which will help to show your business in a positive light, despite any negative reviews they may see.
Of course, it is a lot of work for an individual to keep up with everything that is being said about their business online. For a larger company, this can often be a full time job. That being said, it is not something you can do halfway or sometimes. The way your business is presented online is as good as fact. You aren’t who you say you are- you are who your customers say you are. So no matter what you think or know about your business means nothing to someone is looking to make a decision based on the information they find online, which, let’s face it, is how most people are making buying decisions these days.
If you don’t have the time or resources to manage your reputation yourself, there are firms that specialize in this kind of work (like us!) that can help you stay on top of it. There is no question that it is important and necessary for you to take control of your reputation, so when are you going to start? To learn more about what we can do to help you manage your business reputation, contact us now!