In a 2012 survey conducted by BrightLocal, 72 percent of consumer respondents said they considered online reviews just as trustworthy as recommendations from friends and family. Reading positive reviews made 52 percent of people more likely to do business with a company.
If you’ve been working on a review collection strategy, you should have a growing archive of good reviews to draw customers to your business. However, even the best businesses have to deal with negative feedback. Poor reviews push your site down in search rankings and hurt your reputation among customers, but these five tactics can help your business recover when it takes a hit.
1. Acknowledge the Problem
Sometimes you have to admit a negative review is deserved. Whether a problem is caused by miscommunication, an unforeseen circumstance, or an employee error, not every customer has an ideal experience. When this happens, respond to the customer as soon as possible wherever the review is posted. A public reply shows your company isn’t afraid to take responsibility for mistakes and proves you’re willing to make good if something goes wrong. Trying to hide the problem or pretend it never happened only makes things worse and can cause the situation to snowball if the disgruntled reviewer posts comments on multiple sites.
2. Offer a Solution
Once you have accepted the fact that there is a problem with your business, it is time to offer real solutions in order to fix the problem. Even if your company isn’t at fault for the circumstances behind a customer’s complaints, do whatever you can to satisfy them. Don’t argue or try to show why you’re right. If you’re too angry to give an objective and helpful reply, wait until you cool off. Think about what you can do for the customer to make the experience better and uphold your company’s reputation. Offer to get in contact directly to discuss the situation and present your solution.
3. Turn Negative Reviews Around
A prompt reply and appropriate solution can change the opinion of even the most dissatisfied customer. After following through on your offer to fix the problem, consider asking the reviewer to update his or her post. Some customers may do this without being prompted thanks to the quality of your customer service, but not everyone is aware of this option. If no new review is provided, you’re entitled to make a public post detailing the resolution.
4. Remove the Worst Offenders
In instances where customer comments are blown out of proportion, defaming or outright libelous, you may have recourse to get the reviews removed. Contact the webmaster of the site where the review was posted, explain the situation and ask for the feedback to be taken down. In the case of libel, it’s possible to take legal action against the review’s author if necessary. Should you discover false reviews left by a competitor, get evidence to prove the identity of the reviewer to ensure the post is removed.
5. Monitor Future Feedback
There are many platforms where customers can leave reviews, including:
• Business directories, such as Yelp, Google and TripAdvisor
• Complaint message boards
Set up alerts with Google and create custom search streams on major social networks to keep track of when your brand is mentioned. Working with a reputation management company and a service with experience in removing search results makes it easier to track these instances and take care of negative feedback when it appears.
Using a proactive approach to deal with negative reviews is the quickest way to get your business back on track. Show customers you’re paying attention to their needs, continue to deliver excellent customer service, and keep an eye on your company’s reputation to maintain a good standing with your target audience.
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