How To Handle Bad Online Reviews.
Bad reviews happen. You can’t please everyone all of the time. Sometimes this leads to bad word of mouth, which spreads like wildfire unknown to you and there is nothing you can do about it. Having a crisis management strategy in play for handling bad online reviews can save your reputation and your bottom line.
[Tweet “72% of consumers surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. “]
Source: Local Consumer Review Survey
We live in the digital world. The intimidation of the many outlets for disenchanted customers to air their grievances for all the world to see sometimes leads businesses to think, let me avoid it and stay off digital. This is a bad move because while having profiles on the many review pages like Google + and Yelp gives an easy outlet for both positive and negative reviews, it also puts you in a position to handle these reviews and have some control over them. Which is much better than not having this control.
95% of unhappy customers will return to your business if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently.
Source: Social Media Today
Step 1: Monitoring
Many times when I’m running my initial research on a client I see the rogue negative reviews on a page. Most times this gripe goes unanswered for a year or more and often it is a surprise to the client when I mention it. Don’t fall into this trap. First thing, set up a Google Alert for your business name. This will let you know when your brand is mentioned online.
Then you want to get into the habit of checking your pages often for any new reviews. When someone posts, you want to know as soon as possible. The sooner the better. Both to help remedy the situation, and to show potential customers that come across these reviews that you are prompt and on the ball.
Step 2: The Game Plan
You may think, well if I ignore it it will go away. It will not go away. Ignoring it is the #1 worst thing you can do. Ignoring it implies guilt, at least to the potential customer that comes across it. It reflects poorly on your business, and even worse on how much you value customer service.
Step 3: Take a deep breath
While you want to reply quickly, you do not want to be hasty. Take your pride out of the equation and be sure to remain level-headed. The #2 worst thing you can do is get snarky, defensive and argumentative. I see this often. The brand gets defensive and argues the validity of the complaint with the poster. For the potential client, this shows poor brand personality and customer relations. What this shows them is that you are not open to admitting your mistakes, that you do not value your customers and that if they had a problem with you the issue would be met with attitude. This will lose you business.
Step 4: The Reply
In drafting your reply be as kind as possible and try to disarm the situation. “I am very sorry you had an unpleasant experience” works well. Do not make excuses, but if perchance this was one of those never be happy customers griping and you had tried hard to remedy it before it got t0 that stage explain that, nicely. Don’t think in terms of changing their mind, at that point as much is about showing your mediation skills and customer service ethics to the potential client.
Step 5: Mistaken Identify or Competition Trolls
Sometimes a poor review is not even meant for your business, a case of mistaken identity. In this case, again, apologize for the bad experience but also patiently express that they have the wrong brand or location in mind. A good reply to this would be something along the lines of: “I am sorry you had an unsatisfactory experience, we do not provide the service you mentioned I believe you may have had …. company in mind.”
Sometimes, in highly competitive industries, or just due to shady business practice is for a competitor to post, or have others post negative reviews about your brand. While these are frustrating and may make you angry they should be handled with the same tact as a typical bad review. If you are absolutely certain this person never hired your brand or visited your establishment feel free to reach out to the platform, G+, Yelp etc., and ask them to remove the review stating that it is fake.
Remember, you may not be able to salvage the customer that is posting, but try. And at the very least you can preserve your brand integrity and reputation to all that see the review with your reply. How have you handled a negative customer experience?
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