These days, reviews are just a few keystrokes away, and an astounding 98 percent of consumers are reading them before giving their business to a company. Yelp, Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor and other websites are hotspots for online reviews and comments that can either dramatically increase or wreak havoc on your business, your brand and ultimately your image. The key to preventing the latter is to proactively manage these reviews, but the path to responding in the right way can be a bit bumpy. Utilize the following list of do’s and don’ts to help you navigate the naysayers.
Let’s face it: Not everyone is going to agree that your brand is the absolute best on the planet. Opinions are just that, opinions, and everyone has their own take on what they like and don’t like. Even the best of friends disagree on what is the premier dish at their favorite restaurant and which resort offers the ultimate spa manicure. So, go in knowing, chances are you will encounter some people that simply have not had the greatest experience with your company. That’s the first step.
Don’t be Remiss
Without a doubt, the day-to-day responsibilities of running a business are demanding, and it may be incredibly easy and seemingly logical to put managing reviews off for another day, or next week, or the week after that. Keep in mind however, that a fabulous review on TripAdvisor or Facebook can increase your traffic and usage by leaps and bounds. Dealing with reviews and comments—good and bad—is crucial to the life of your company. One happy customer can lead to hundreds—or maybe thousands—more. Designating a team to manage questions and engage with customers and their concerns quickly should become a priority if it is not already.
Whether the review is positive or negative, it is an opportunity to place your company in an even brighter light. Thank the writer of a positive review and let them know you appreciate their business and will continue to offer the product or service they enjoy. Offer less-than-positive reviewers a compassionate apology and professionally address their concerns. Offer a reasonable explanation to their problem. Remember that this is an opportune time to connect to your market on a personal level in the eyes of many others and you do not want to miss it.
Even one harsh review or comment can feel demeaning and downright heartbreaking, especially to an owner. Naturally, your first instinct is to be defensive—but don’t be. Really. Now is not the time to rant. It’s the time to remember that the way you handle this situation can either gain the respect of prospective customers or lose them. Although you may temporarily feel better shooting back with a combatively bold response, in the long run you will risk your brand’s image and risk future customers. The manner in which you represent your brand on the internet is essential. Take the high road.
Sometimes a clear and prompt response is not enough. Some reviewers simply want to argue back and forth with you online and continue to express their negative thoughts. Cut to the chase and eliminate this type of retaliation in front of your market and other prospective customers. The best way to resolve this type of situation is to discuss the matter in more thorough detail offline via phone or private message. You may win over a previously dissatisfied customer and gain a loyal fan in the process.
Negative reviews are bound to spring up online, even to the most successful and well-respected businesses. You simply can’t control the opinions of such a vast population. What you can control is how you handle the situation. Communicate with customers effectively and personally, in the same voice, with the same level of professionalism—whether it is online or in person. Customer satisfaction is the goal and online interaction with both your biggest fans and your most critical customers is the perfect way to achieve it.
Want to learn more ways to manage your internet reputation, boost sales and manage conversations regarding your business? Reach out to Lynn Kaniper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609.466.9187 ext. 117.