Today, the first impression most consumers see for your business is online. And, even when a review isn’t flattering, there’s a big reason you should respond. Google takes reviews into account when they rank you among competitors in the Google Map pack at the top of their search page.
Approximately 97% of consumers start their search online, but where do they end? Will it be on your website or your competitor’s? Google reviews are crucial for getting found and chosen by your customers. As a business person, you are probably no stranger to the occasional (hopefully) negative review. Until recently, people that interacted with your business might talk to their friends and family about their experience. However, it is now much easier to share that experience online with a much farther-reaching audience. And a recent survey reported that over 84% of people trust online reviews more than a personal recommendation from a friend or family member. The perceived lousy experience one customer had now has the potential to reach thousands more online.
Why Negative Reviews Happen
Unfortunately, negative reviews can happen regardless of your product or service quality, or even how many happily satisfied customers you have.
A study of over 2,000 American consumers showed that:
- Over 50% of respondents said they were likely to complain publicly if customer service did a poor job resolving their product or service issue.
- 88% of consumers have avoided a company because of a bad review on social media.
- Almost 1 in 8 complainers do so hoping to hurt a company’s reputation.
Should You Respond to Negative Reviews?
YES, even though a negative review may not seem like a big deal, especially if you have a lot of other positive reviews, you should ALWAYS respond and address the situation. Responding lets people know you care about the business.
KMA is a Google-Certified Partner with a specialty in reputation management. We work with clients to help them best deal with negative reviews. Use the tips below to improve your online image:
1. Acknowledge the Issue:
In most cases, it is essential to acknowledge the issue even if you do not think the Reviewer is right. Perhaps you can begin your response by simply saying. . .
“Thank you for providing your feedback and making us aware of this issue.”
You always want to thank them for bringing the situation to your attention. Whether they do not understand your process or are just having an off day, as the business owner, you want to be seen as taking the first step to finding a solution.
Again, even if you feel that the Reviewer is wrong, you should always take the high road by issuing an apology. An apology not only appeases the Reviewer but also shows others that you care about providing high-quality service to all your patrons. Here’s an example of how your response continues:
“We are very sorry that our service did not meet your expectations. It is extremely important to us to set a high standard for ourselves, and we are truly sorry to hear that standard was not met in your experience with our business. Our customer’s satisfaction is our number one priority.”
This apology is sincere and to the point, demonstrating that your business sets a high standard and intends to deliver.
3. Provide an Explanation, if Necessary:
Sometimes, an apology is more than enough to address a situation. There may also be instances where you’ll need to provide more information to clear up a misunderstanding. There are three things to remember when providing an explanation:
- Don’t make excuses – take responsibility. Be clear about why the misunderstanding occurred.
- Issue an apology, even if the other party was in the wrong.
- Offer advice on how to re-engage with your business.
4. Compensate the Reviewer Appropriately:
As a consumer, there’s nothing worse than having a negative experience with a company and having them brush it off like it was no big deal. In their eyes, the fault either has cost them time or money. Offer a discount on their next purchase or be willing to go above and beyond to help the customer find the care suitable for their needs. An apology goes far, but if you’re willing and able to go that extra step, it could mean the difference for future customers seeing how you treat others.
5. Invite the Reviewer to Discuss the Matter Offline:
Offer to resolve the problem offline. In-person or on the phone, you’ll be able to hear their concerns and allow both parties to reach a resolution. Here’s how you can extend that invitation following your initial apology:
“Please contact me personally via email or phone and I would be happy to discuss the issue at your earliest convenience.”
Make sure to provide your name, title, and direct contact information. We do not recommend asking the person to remove the review, as this could worsen the situation. Simply ensure the client feels that their complaint was heard.
If the Reviewer replies to you negatively, simply repeat #5 above, and then no further engagement is needed. NEVER get into an argument online.
Even though it may be difficult, responding to a negative review is part of maintaining your integrity as a business. Keeping an even tone with your customers in your interactions online and offline will only help you in the long run.
In a perfect world, every online review your business receives would be positive. Unfortunately, this isn’t realistic. Although it can seem unfair, it’s important to acknowledge negative reviews and prepare for them.
If you ignore negative reviews altogether, customers are unlikely to return. Furthermore, the customer may continue to share their negative feelings about the experience with others offline, which causes even further damage to your business’s reputation in the community.
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