Good reviews are some of the best organic advertising; however, web-based reviews and even a negative review are NOT in a business owner’s control! Reviews posted to random search or directory listing websites is a modern-day reality. It is content that consumers seek out when they wish to know how other people’s experience has been.
And yes the chance of a negative review scares and frustrates business owners, but there is also a BIG opportunity here! A simple plan for reputation management that not only pursues good reviews but also protects against and deals with negative reviews MUST become standard operating business practice (tips below).
Serious marketers NEED a proactive approach to identify, contact and follow through with happy customers for a review. Be thorough: show them (step by step) how to give that review! If so, those annoying listings & citations will become a HUGE competitive advantage even when that negative review occurs!
In fact it is crucial to get proactive about asking happy clients & customers for reviews. Here’s just a few of the reasons why:
1) a good review is some of the best advertising a business can ever have
2) 9 of 10 people won’t get around to giving one unless they are asked
3) and finally, lots of good reviews will serve as the back-up a business needs if that bad review ever comes!
Important: Google Map or Search Listings are where reviews are the most visible, so be certain there is a fully verified and optimized set of Google My Business listings in place! Sure ‘Home Advisor’ runs television advertising and maybe someone somewhere mentioned they use ‘Judy’s Book’, but given a choice for where one review will be the most visible… there simply is no comparison to Google listings.
The Correct Steps For How To Deal With A Bad Review
1. Go Direct!:
Respond privately to the individual before responding publicly, if possible. Apologize and acknowledge a mistake or a misunderstanding. Maybe, there’s an opportunity to make up for it in exchange for taking the negative review down or, better yet, for an updated good review. Online reviews are not set in stone, they can always be updated by the reviewer.
2. Present a Positive Position:
- Never react, never make excuses in a public response
- Prepare a response to amicably resolve the situation, but always have others review it before going live
- Identify yourself as the business owner, explain customer satisfaction is of the utmost importance and that given a chance to speak directly you are certain you can resolve the situation
- Restate the issue because that person is likely annoyed, they want to know they were heard
- Do not motivate or engage in a back and forth battle online for the entire world to see. Arguments or trying to explain how events didn’t occur in the fashion reviewed is not going to help! CONSUMERS reading it will lean toward other consumers when they see this. We must understand WE are speaking to the public and the prospective consumer too!
- Acknowledge a mistake — even if you’re not sure you have made one — apologize and again offer to proactively fix the situation.
- If an agreement can be reached the person will often take the review down, but if not you have still demonstrated goodwill and the way you conduct business for everyone to see!
3. Manage Consumer Expectations:
Let’s do our very best NEVER to be caught off guard! How? We need to be thorough communicators from the very start. This obvious tip is prevention: a company should carefully manage expectations about what is and what is not being sold. Leave nothing to chance! Some might call it making sure buyers are not set up for confusion or the disappointment that can motivate a bad review in the first place. And folks, drop the ego – we all want support when we buy services and those prospective buyers are no different – so be sure to give them the best you’ve got!
4. Look For Directory Review Policies:
Getting a review removed depends on the listing companies documented policies and whether or not you can prove they were violated, but it’s worth a careful look. Yelp, for instance, doesn’t support reviews from a competitor. No directory will support false user accounts, so be sure the individual is legitimate or you may be able to have it taken down. And there is usually a way to FLAG a false review in your account dashboard calling the directory out to review it with your reasons for why it should be taken down.
Reputation Management is Key
The negative side of this coin is you CANNOT control all the listings out there with your company’s information, nor the chance anyone will post a review. If the possibility of getting a negative review makes you hesitant, remember that sooner or later almost every business will get one. There are those rare individuals out there who may NOT be fair. Maybe it’s a less than honest reputation management firm using nefarious tactics to scare up new business for its client at the expense of competition. No matter, it’s why all business owners must have a proactive plan ready. Getting reviews MUST be seen as standard business practice!
And by the way, having nothing but glowing comments can make some readers wonder about whether or not your reviews are even legitimate. Your plan for managing that bad review will speak volumes with potential customers (including the unhappy customer) and can have a far greater effect than the bad review itself.
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