Boosting your credibility and reputation in the marketplace is vital to the success of your company. Internet surfers are relying on online reviews now more than ever before, as they surf past businesses that are riddled with negative online feedback.
So understanding how to handle negative reviews, while making an effort to promote good reviews, is a critical component of your marketing efforts.
It’s a FACT: User reviews influence buying decisions. Over 76 percent of consumers read online reviews before seeking out a local business, and some 80 percent will alter their buying decision based on bad reviews. Translation: Your online reputation is essential for engaging new customers and maintaining current customers.
1. What NOT to Do
First things first, do not communicate denial when responding to poor customer feedback. It’s time to put egos aside. Insisting that a customer is flat-out wrong in a public forum will only make matters worse — even if you happen to be right.
While it’s natural to become bitter when someone bashes your company online — yes, for all the world to see — responding in anger will only make matters worse. It doesn’t matter how competent your business is, you are not immune from customer scrutiny.
If you are in the business of doing business, customer gripes are going to take root. Try not to take it personal.
2. Respond to Customer Complaints
Another “what not to do” tip is to not DO NOTHING. In other words, take control and respond to poor customer feedback.
Hoping and praying that a flood of bad reviews will magically become unnoticed is not a good strategy. Tackling negative online reviews in a respective manner will show that you are aware and are dedicated to solving customer problems.
Providing a thorough, thoughtful response to constructive criticism will go a long way, as it shows users that you care about your customers and are willing to work to resolve problems. Avoid your desire to strike comment-by-comment blows, but instead devise a one-time direct response that shows you are in tune with customer concerns and are willing to resolve them.
3. Market Good Feedback
Favorable online reviews will help outweigh the bad ones, so take active control by urging satisfied customers to share their buying experiences. Nearly every business suffers from disgruntled customers from time to time (it’s one of those unfortunate realities), but by accruing bundles of favorable reviews, you are helping to overshadow the bad ones.
Use the Internet’s never-ending resources as tools to promote your products and services. Articles, case studies, testimonials, and social media are all great ways to build up your business while weeding out negative customer experiences.
Decide on outlets that will best reach your customers and prospects, and offer them insight on the positive aspects of your business. Remember, good or bad, online content can spread like wildfire.
4. Contact the Review Site
Occasionally you might find that a competitor or some sneaky web-troll is trying to unjustly defame your company. It might be worth contacting the review site, if you have proof that a negative review was not actually submitted by one of your customers.
This is no simple task, as Google spokesperson for Google Places notes,
“Reviews are a forum for users to share both positive and negative opinions. We do not arbitrate disputes and more often than not, we leave the review up.”
But if you are able to provide proof to some review sites, asserting that it was a competitor and not a customer who submitted the negative feedback, there could be a case for removal.
5. Learn from your Clientele
Let’s face it, everyone screws up from time to time. When a customer is venting about your “defective” product or “repulsive” customer service, you should at least consider whether there is, or at least there may be, some truth to their claim.
Whether we like it or not, consumers can offer valid points. Look to see if other customers are filing similar complaints, and if so, use them as an opportunity to remedy any overlooked problems. For instance, if you’ve received numerous complaints about a certain employee’s behavior, or if one of your products consistently rates poorly, maybe it’s time to reevaluate some of your practices.
To Wrap it all up
Bad reviews can certainly be a headache. And, as a business owner, they can evoke anger and other negative emotional reactions. Your best strategy is to not take bad reviews personal, but instead take steps to rectify any lingering problems and actively market for good customer feedback.
Negative reviews are a component of doing business — and, to be frank, a thoughtful response should be as well.
Need help delighting and retaining your customers? Our proven, reputation management system will rapidly detect any negative (or positive!) feedback — and then report it to you. Remember, reputation management is a chief component of brand management.
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