Word of mouth has always been an important aspect of most marketing strategies. Now that the average person has Google at their fingertips 24/7, it’s more important than ever to meet or exceed the expectations of you customer. Failing to do so could lead to a poor online reputation. As we all know, the web is one of the first places most people look when researching a product or service. In addition to Facebook and Google reviews, there are others that specialize solely in online consumer reviews. Unfortunately, you will receive bad reviews from time to time. Below, we list five tips to help you deal with these bad reviews:
1. Solve the Underlying Issue
There are benefits to online reviews. They help you to identify those areas of your business that need improvement. Read your poor reviews and analyze them to determine if the negative remarks were warranted and, if so, work to fix the issue. For instance, if you have received multiple negative reviews regarding a customer service issue with certain team member, it is definitely time to have a discussion with your team member in order to get to the root of the problem. Maybe there are some training issues? Maybe there are things going on at home and the person needs time off work to cope? The point is that the review sheds light on a problem so take them seriously and take steps to fix the issues they present. Remember: the bad review isn’t the problem; it’s a symptom of the problem.
2. Is the Review Legitimate?
While most reviews are posted in good faith, there are occasionally fraudulent reviews. This could happen for several reasons: 1) a competitor creates a “dummy” account and uses it to blast your company in an attempt to tarnish your brand 2) someone uses online reviewing to blackmail you into getting what they want from you, etc. While these issues are few and far between, they need to be dealt with when they occur. First, contact the site hosting the review service. If you can prove the review is fraudulent, they may (but not always) remove it. Second, if someone is blackmailing you, it may be time to seek legal counsel. NOTE: Do not attempt to have a legitimate negative review removed from a hosting site. They will not do it and they should not do it. Doing so would compromise both your integrity and the integrity of the review host. Legitimate reviews are yours; you earned them. Use them as a learning experience.
3. Always be Polite and Professional
This tip applies to all aspects of your business but it’s especially important when responding to disgruntled customers. It is possible to pacify the customer with kindness while rectifying the situation. Doing so could prevent a bad review or convince a customer to remove a bad review. It is also simply good business. Treating each customer with respect and integrity will go a long way in helping you build and maintain a strong brand. All people want (and should) be treated with respect and dignity. Going out of your way to offer exceptional customer service will show up – over time – in your online reputation.
4. What’s Your Overall Strategy?
It is important to routinely monitor your online reputation. You should always know what your customers are saying about you. As your business grows, it may become more difficult for you to personally handle this task but it can easily be delegated. Failure to monitor your reputation on the web can harm you in two ways: 1) you fail to address fraudulent reviews swiftly allowing them to tarnish your brand 2) you fail to identify problem areas in your business by reviewing complaints. Don’t let your reputation “happen” to you. Take charge and be proactive. That brings me to #5:
5. Focus on Search Engine Optimization
After you have responded to the reviewers and addressed the issue causing the bad review, what now? You still have this review floating around out there that is giving you a bad reputation. This is yet another reason to focus your efforts on SEO. A steady stream of positive content will drown out the negative. Utilize blogs, social media, and other forms of content promotion to get your brand’s story out to the people. Your business will inevitably have a web-based reputation. The question is who will be in charge of that reputation? Through careful and regular SEO, you can be in charge.