No matter how wonderful your product or service is, you’re bound to have an off day, make an error, or just wind up serving someone else who is having a bad day. Inevitably, this will be one of the people who reviews your business online, and yes, it’s going to sting… in more ways than one. So, what should you do when a bad review dominates an otherwise glowing online reputation?
Do Not Ignore It
You may feel tempted to try to sweep it under the rug or ignore it until it slips into oblivion, but that won’t help. We’ve prepared an infographic of online review statistics, so it’s easy to see how much comments (both good and bad) affect your overall online reputation and sales. It’s well worth your time to look it over and share it, but if you take nothing else away from it, just know that more than 90% of people read reviews and 87% of people will rethink a purchasing decision if they see bad reviews. Equally, 95% of people who have left a bad review will come back to you (and maybe change their review!), if their issue is resolved promptly. Based on this alone, making things right with the customer is a no-brainer.
Check Your Ego
No matter how frustrating (or wrong) the customer is, it’s important to remember that the internet is a stage and everyone is watching you. Moreover, they’ve got the mindset of the consumer, and they’re going to put themselves in the shoes of the reviewer. Amy’s Baking Company of Scottsdale, Arizona is a prime example of how bad it can get if you can’t check your reaction. The restaurant was featured on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and showed some of the owner’s antics, but it didn’t end there. She took to Yelp and responded to poor reviews there as well. The restaurant has since closed, and the owner attempted to remove her responses, but they’re forever etched in online history. “It is blatantly obvious to me why you were ALONE on a Saturday night!” she shot back at on reviewer. “Read any of the reviews that have been written about us and you will see that EVERYONE loves us!! The only people that don’t is our “Competition”. We knew you had been sent by another restaurant before you even ordered your $14.00 Pizza.” We don’t know if that person was a legit reviewer, but we can all probably agree that was the wrong response. Sammy, Amy’s husband, also left several comments. “You are INSANE!!” he retorted in one. “I have only contacted you thru YELP.Perhaps it is the little voices in your head that are scaring you.” By the time the restaurant closed, it had close to 500 reviews and a three-star rating. Yelp has a very sophisticated algorithm that cuts out fake reviews and spam. More than 700 appear to have flocked to the business’ Yelp page in some sort of a cult following, largely aimed at mocking the owner for her behavior, though these reviews were caught in the filter and don’t display as part of the rating. In other words, if you’re stressed or upset, don’t be an Amy or a Sammy. Take a deep breath and come back when you’ve cooled off.
Start with an apology. You don’t necessarily need to say you were in the wrong, but if you were, own up to it. For example, “I’m sorry you had a bad experience…” could be sufficient. Equally, you could explain more, but make sure you include the apology with it, so you come across as empathetic. “…our oven broke that night and it slowed our service.”
Put a positive spin on it. This is a good time to demonstrate what your company’s values are or what people normally say, but not quite in the way Amy did. “We always aim to serve our customers within 20 minutes…” or “Providing speedy service is important to us…”
Keep it short and redirect them to a private discussion. There’s no need to address every single concern a person mentioned, especially if they give a laundry list of issues. Instead, offer them the opportunity to speak with you via email or phone to resolve the issue. “We’d like the opportunity to make things right by you. Please contact us at xxxxxxx.”
Start Monitoring Your Reputation Today
This ends our three-part series on reputation management. If you missed the other two, “The Real Reasons Your Reputation Matters (Spoiler: They’re Psychological)” and “Beginners Guide to Monitoring Your Online Business Reputation” are available in our archives. If you’d like to start taking charge of your online reputation and growing your business more, we’d love to help. Contact us to schedule your free 30-minute power session today.