No business wants to see the dreaded bad review. It is common knowledge that too many of these reviews have the power to make or break your business. But, what can you do about them? In today’s post, we are going to discuss how to can turn your reviews from a negative into a positive for your business.
Why do people leave negative reviews?
A few things you will want to realize if you are just starting out in the analysis of your reviews. First, no matter how nice you are, or what the service was like, most likely there will people who will leave a bad review. Try to notice a pattern of what consumers are saying about your business. They may have come in with a bias from other less than positive reviews you have received. Perhaps a friend told them something negative about your business before their visit.
How to handle the initial shock
Remember not to take your bad reviews personally, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Try to read your reviews from the perspective of a customer, this will give you more understanding when reading something negative about your business.
Common response mistakes
- Responding with criticism– do not criticize your customers, because they are entitled to their opinions regarding your business.
- Responding with anger– be respectful of your customer’s complaints as they want to let you know an issue and help you improve.
- Blaming the customer– there is no need to blame a customer, it is important for you to take responsibility for the actions as a business, especially if you are in the service industry.
- Using inappropriate language– this will only increase the likelihood of conflict with your customer and decrease your ability to repair the customer relationship. Furthermore, it will give prospective customers a bad impression of your business.
- Ignoring a review– doing this will not solve the problem if anything it will make it worse.
- Arguing online– engaging in an argument with a customer will show that you do not have self-restraint.
The importance of online reviews
As we discussed in our last article about online reviews, they are one of the most important aspects of gaining success as a business in the digital world. According to Inc, “ Research shows that 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. And they make that decision quickly: 68 percent form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews.” What is even more shocking, according to CROWD, “82% of buyers specifically seek out negative reviews (The Power of Reviews)”
How to spot a negative review
- Look for low star ratings
- Look for negative comments on your social media platforms
- Comments do count as reviews from the perspective of your customers
- Look for fake reviews so you can remove them
- Make sure the review was conducted by a real customer
Understand your review sites
Study the review section of each review site where your business has a presence. Here are some examples of the top review sites, Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Google. Every site is going to have a different ranking and filtering system for your reviews. Some sites may favor your bad reviews and show them as the first things your customers see. This is why your response to negative criticism is so important. For example, according to PracticalEcommerce, “Yelp uses an algorithm to recommend reviews its thinks will be the most helpful to the Yelp community based on three factors: quality, reliability, and the reviewer’s activity on the site.”
Check your social media channels
Social media is a great source for upset customers to flock to. There are endless avenues for customers to leave comments. Facebook has their own review system, not to mention comment threads. On Instagram, customers can comment on photos or contact your business directly. Lastly and probably the most prominent for customer complaints is Twitter. Tweets about businesses can often go viral and demand the public response from the business. Public responses will show that you are responding to these quickly.
Create a response roadmap
Work with your employees on how the best methods of responding to critical or negative reviews. Ask yourselves under what situations you should use incentives or coupons. How will you handle profanity? What is the writing style of your review responses? Lastly, what is the proper response time? Some reviews will take you by surprise, depending on the content. So, it will also help you to cultivate a few “canned responses” that you can use to help you in difficult situations. Strategizing early on will allow for consistency in responses.
Turn criticism into problem-solving
Always approach every negative review with an attitude of positivity. Do not react defensively, as this will give your customers the impression that you are argumentative. Second, do not react with excuses, people will see right through them. Understand that customers at the end of the day want to feel heard, and taking the time to listen and respond to their review will be a great stepping stone into repairing the relationship. However, you need to do more than respond, you need to solve the problem. Thank your customer for their feedback, regardless of the review. All criticism will help your business grow.
Ask your customer to contact you regarding their experience, so you can better support them. Another way to respond to reviews is to give an incentive to visit again for another chance at a better experience. You can offer a coupon or a free service. Make sure to respond to reviews even if you know they are fake. If you have already flagged a fake review, it will most likely be removed, but until then your customers are under the impression this is real. It is essential that you respond to these fake reviews as if they were a real customer. Remember that not all reviews require a response. Some reviews will be nonsensical and devoid of any response that will be helpful. Responding to reviews like this may get you unwanted attention.
How to flag a fake Google Review
Google is the number one search engine in the world, therefore it is likely that people are going to find information about your business through this method. If you have bad reviews, Google reviews will show your star rating upon conducting a search. But what if your negative review is fake? As we have discussed it is still important to respond to these reviews in the meantime. If you want it removed, here are some steps you can follow. Click the three dots in the right-hand corner of your chosen review and flag it as inappropriate. Another way to do this is to contact Google support or fill out a Google form for a legal remove request.
Encourage customers to leave reviews
If your customer has told you in person that they have had a positive experience with your business, encourage them to leave reviews. If you are receiving negative reviews, asking for reviews that you feel will be positive is a great way to combat the issue. Another way to get more reviews is to offer an incentive. Send out email promotions with coupons or a free service, if a customer leaves a review on the site. It will be rare that these are negative. Include links to leave reviews on your social media platforms or leave a note on customer receipts. If you want to find out more about this subject, check out our blog on Strategies To Get Reviews From Your Customers.
How to monitor your reviews
According to powerreviews.com, “the ideal star rating for a product is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars, and purchase likelihood starts to drop when a product’s average star rating reach a perfect 5. The occasional negative review gets your average star rating between 4.2 and 4.5 where purchase likelihood peaks.” So, as you can see from this statistic, there are positives to negative reviews. However, it is important to establish a system for monitoring your reviews in order to avoid dropping below your desired numbers. According to Medium, “69% attributed their good customer service experience to quick resolution of their problem and 72% blamed their bad customer service interaction on having to explain their problem to multiple people.”
There are various tools you can use to monitor your reviews, for example, our Review Generation Tool, allows us to track the positive and negative reviews. Our proprietary CRM will email or text your customers a survey about their experience.
Encourage customers to contact you
If you do not wish to leave all of your responses for the public eye to witness, then encourage customers to contact you. You can leave a short message, thanking them for their feedback and ask them to leave a phone number or email to fix the issue outside of the public eye.
Evaluate your service
If receiving negative reviews is becoming a regular occurrence in your business, take some time to evaluate your business. Get together with employees and strategize on how you could better serve your customers in the future. Breakdown the commonalities in negative reviews to understand if customers are complaining about the same thing. Use these inputs to make your business stronger.
Surprisingly negative reviews can have a significantly positive impact on your business. They give you a chance to repair relationships with customers, you otherwise may have been ignorant to. They also give you the power to show your skills in dealing with customer issues. Furthermore, they give you the opportunity to boost your business. Respond to negative reviews with an attitude of positivity and use them as a golden opportunity to help customers with how they experience your business.