Negative online reviews… the thorn in every business’s side. Every business faces a negative review by some unhappy customer at some point and it can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you remember that particular customer and don’t feel like the fault is yours. For better or worse, online reviews are not going anywhere anytime soon so it’s best to come up with a good strategy on how to handle negative online reviews so they don’t devastate your business.
From a consumer’s perspective, it’s super helpful to know if a product works the way you expect it to and to learn from those who already own the product. The same goes for service based companies like restaurants, landscapers, gyms, doctors, etc. I personally use online reviews ALL. THE. TIME…. for everything. But I’m also pretty perceptive to knowing when a review just sounds like some immature person who likes to complain or even just sounds a little coocoo. So I try to take all things into account when relying on reviews.
As a business owner, you need a strategy on how to handle negative online reviews otherwise they will negatively impact your business and could make or break your growth strategy. Here are my best tips for dealing with negative online reviews.
- Try not to take it personal. Every business gets negative reviews, and no one expects you to be exceptionally perfect. We’re all going to make mistakes from time to time. The important part is how you respond to the review and if it helps you get better in the future.
- Make sure you have logins to all the places you might get reviews from such as Yelp, Facebook, Google My Business, etc. I’m not kidding when I say that MOST businesses I have worked with do not keep login information for these kinds of websites. Start a spreadsheet for logins and passwords… today!
- Make a public response quickly, but not immediately. It’s important that you respond to the review publically as soon as possible, but not until you cool down. I know how frustrating a negative review can be, which makes it very tempting to give the person a piece of your mind. But give yourself some time to think through the best response since future customers will be reading your response.
- Make your response empathetic, but vague. The purpose of the public response is to show future customers that you care and are easy to work with, not to deal with the problem specifically. Here’s an example of what you could say: “We are so sorry to hear about the problems you had with the product after receiving it in the mail. We care very much about customer satisfaction and will do everything we can to make it right. We will contact you privately right away to get this issue resolved.”
- Correct the issue for the unhappy customer privately. Deal with the issue as best you can even if it hurts. This unhappy customer has already taken steps to ruin your business and if you don’t attempt to make them happy, they will make sure everyone knows about it. Even if it costs you more than you would like, it’s probably much less expensive than losing future customers.
- Cover up that bad review with lots of good reviews! Everyone will have a bad review from time to time, but it will be lost in the midst of tons of good reviews. There are so many ways you can collect positive reviews. Here are a few ideas:
- A simple ask. Ask happy customers to review you. Many clients I have worked with have seen great success with a simple ask. Of course, some people will say yes to giving a review and then forget about it, but some will actually follow through on their promise. Every positive review is a step in the right direction.
- Send an email with a link. After a transaction, send the customer a simple email requesting they give you a review and include a link to the place you want them to review you on. Some will respond and some won’t, but over time it will work. Ask your marketing person to setup an automated email if that suits you best.
- Use social media to ask. If your business has a following on social media, make some posts every month or so asking for customers to review you. Be sure to include the link to where you want the review.
- Ask for reviews from your website. Add the logos and links to your online review sites on your website.
- Ask in your email signature. Add a little message to your email signature asking for online reviews.
- Offer an incentive for reviews. You can significantly increase your positive reviews by offering an incentive such as a discount, upgrade, or entry into a drawing.
One more idea. Another way to up your game with online reviews is to add a schema review snippet to your website. This will make your ratings and reviews show up in a Google search like in the screenshot below. You’ll need to work with an SEO consultant to do this, but it’s totally worth it.
Work with a Marketing Consultant
If your business really needs help in this area, hire an internet marketing consultant. As a business owner, you are busy and may not have the dedicated time to keep an eye on your online reviews, let alone respond to them. But it’s so important to make this a priority because negative reviews will harm your business.