Managing Bad Online Reviews for your Business
More than ever before, people are using Google searches to find out where to shop, where to eat, where to go for special events – in fact, Google Maps is the most-used smartphone app. What’s more, 93% of Millennials read reviews before buying a product, 59% leave reviews on products to share very good or very bad experiences, and 41% pass these reviews on to friends and family through social media. The reviews on your branded website are also much less likely to influence Millennials’ purchasing decisions than anonymous reviews on apps like Google Maps.
No business is immune to making mistakes. Employees have bad days, you can run into supply issues, scheduling conflicts, you name it – at some point, there will be a customer who is not completely satisfied with his or her experience and maybe leave a negative review on Google Maps, Yelp, etc. What does this mean for you? First of all, if a potential customer’s first impression of your business is a negative review that she sees while she’s browsing to figure out where to buy a product, she will likely decide to make her purchase elsewhere. Second, if you don’t address negative reviews, it can give the impression that you’re not receptive to your customers’ needs. What’s your next step?
Strangely enough, businesses both large and small leave negative reviews unresolved all the time, giving no response at all. Given what we know about how Millennials make purchasing decisions, ignoring negative reviews is definitely not the way to go.
If you think a review may be fraudulent, such as a review submitted by a competitor to leech away sales, you can contact the review website and, if you can prove the review is fraudulent, they can remove it. However, it is against the official policies of review sites to remove customer or client reviews, so don’t expect to be able to sweep complaints under the rug by having them removed.
Instead, respond to bad reviews sincerely and as soon as possible after they’re posted. Someone on your team should craft a polite, personalized reply that lets the customer know she’s been heard and understood. Take the opportunity to evaluate what you can do better. Some reviews may seem unnecessarily harsh or the complaints may seem unrealistic, but responding to those reviews with the same patience and kindness is going to cost you less than losing future business over an unresolved bad review. Also remember that reviews can be changed, and it goes a long way toward building trust with potential customers if someone who initially posted a one-star review changes it to a four-star review because of your efforts to resolve her complaint. Customers want to know that you care about creating a good experience for them, and being responsive to negative online reviews is a great way to show that you do care.