Most businesses see bad reviews as devastating. But, they can actually be an opportunity. Did you know that? Here’s how to turn negative press around and use it as a way to grow and improve.
Motivate Customers To Post Positive Reviews
One strategy to combat negativity on the web is to encourage satisfied customers to post their reviews online. People are quick to complain when they’re not happy, but it’s much harder to get people to post about positive experiences.
As a society, we tend to give more weight to the negative than to the positive. So, train your staff to engage the customers, ask them to post positive reviews (the customers, not the staff), and actively ask for feedback from customers before they post anything.
This is called being proactive, and it gives you incredible control over the long-term online rating of your company. If you ask most people, they’ll post a positive review as long as they’re happy with the service. But, if you don’t ask, most people won’t – not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t think of it or they forget.
Respond To Complaints Quickly
When someone complains, it’s best to respond quickly. Don’t wait and let the problem fester. And, certainly don’t ignore it. That never leads to a positive outcome.
When complaints go unanswered, it makes you look like you’re guilty or that the customer is right or that you don’t care. It can also make you look like you’re ignorant of what others are saying about you. None of that is good. Social media responses can be dealt with in similar ways to negative email responses.
Respond Offline, If Possible
If possible, respond online, and then take it offline. Try to engage the customer directly, confidentially, to see what you can do to make it up to him or her.
You want to be civil, and offer the person another try at your business offering. Maybe one of your employees was having a bad day, or maybe service easy unusually slow. Many people will give you a second chance if you offer them a free sample or something else to make it up to them.
However, you should resist the temptation to just throw money or a free coupon their way. This can sometimes backfire on you and make you look like you’re trying to buy your way out of a bad review. Instead, show a genuine concern for the complaint and for the customer. Make it right, regardless of what happened or whose fault it was. Make the customer’s experience the top priority. Focus on solving the customer’s problem. That means, if you own a restaurant, the customer’s problem is he’s hungry. Make sure he comes back in for a stellar meal.
If you own an ink supply store, he needs to print something – make sure he gets the best ink you sell. And so on.
Be Polite And Civil
Always be polite and civil toward your customers. They feed you and your family and keep you in business.
Request Defamatory Reviews Be Removed
You can request defamatory reviews be removed, especially if they are clearly emotional outbursts or they contribute nothing to the discussion or are not legitimate complaints. If they are legitimate complaints, and you’ve solved the customer’s problem and resolved the original issue, then you can ask to have the complaint removed by the customer.
Monitor Your Reputation
Use something like chatmeter to monitor your online reputation, and build your local brand through local SEO. Again, this is a proactive move that will hopefully head off bad reviews at the pass.
Understand How Rating Sites Work
Sometimes, rating sites work for you, but sometimes, they work against you. There’s no real monitoring that happens on them. So, a site like Yelp could be filled with people blasting your business and there’s very little you can do to remove negative comments.
It could be your competitors trying to slam you, or it could be dissatisfied customers posting for revenge. Yelp uses a special algorithm to recommend reviews to people that it thinks will be the most helpful to the community.
This algo attempts to quantify three factors: reliability, quality, and the reviewer’s activity on the site. Tripadvisor is another site that provides reviews of travel-related sites and content. It uses a star rating system and reviews to inform users.
About the only thing you can do is provide excellent service for your customers. By going above and beyond, you will earn excellent reviews from your best customers and genuine reviews tend to drown out the obvious complainers.
Collin Holmes, founded Chatmeter, Inc in 2009 and serves as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Holmes is a graduate of the University of California, Riverside and graduated with an MBA from San Diego State University. Prior to Chatmeter, Mr. Holmes served as Vice President of Product Management and Director of Product Marketing for xAD, Inc. (LocalAdXchange) (also known as V-enable). Mr. Holmes comes with a couple decades of overseeing and developing product roadmaps, business development and managing the process of driving applications to market