Congratulations!! Your dream of owning a business is a reality. You’ve built your company with sheer determination and guts. Not to mention sweat, time, and money. Maybe a lot of money. You braved the world and put your idea out there! It’s on the internet. You have a website and a social media presence. Your door is open and your product or service is FOR SALE!
Now here they come, slowly at first, but then more and more and more! Just what you hoped and dreamed of while building your business. You have customers, real live customers.
You greet them at the door with your best smile. They buy your product, and then they leave. They look at their phone and see Google Maps sent a message asking them to “rate the service.” The moment of truth! What will it be? The reward for all your hard work is 1 to 5 stars. All your planning, creation, and delivery come to down this moment. The star rating and then the Google prompt to “write a review.”
These interactions and stories are what your customers of tomorrow will read prior to doing business with you. This is your community developing a conversation about you. You are exposed and now you have an important decision to make.
To Be, Or Not to Be… Involved
All feedback is an opportunity to learn what you are doing well or insights into how to improve your customer’s journey. There are two strategies: let the community talk, not engage, and pretend they are not talking about you. You don’t read the comments so no one does right? WRONG! The other (much better) option: read, listen, learn and engage with your customers and adapt as necessary.
While the community rules on Google allow you to flag prohibited comments such as fake, illegal, or offensive comments and it will restrict certain content. It doesn’t allow you to flag an unfavorable comment just because you don’t like it. Those are the comments you will want to respond to and let your customers know you value them. It’s also an opportunity to publically say how you will improve the experience for their next visit and future customers.
A bad review is an opportunity to glimpse into the hearts and minds of your customers. Just a few weeks ago one of our clients had a customer write about how disappointed they were with their service. They didn’t like the charges, they didn’t like the technician. Our client reached out and uncovered the discrepancy and learned the customer didn’t understand why the technician was unable to correct their problem on the first visit and why they needed to wait. Once they understood the need to order an out-of-date part they discovered how far our client had gone to find the part to save them thousands of dollars on fixing their unit instead of replacing it, they were overjoyed.
How to Respond to Bad Reviews
There is no doubt a negative review can sting. But eventually, every business will get a bad review. Here are some tips on replying to negative reviews:
- Respond in a timely manner. A prompt response shows you care and acknowledges your commitment to your customers.
- Stay professional and courteous.
- Never lash out, never blame the customer, and avoid taking the review personally.
- Understand your customer’s experience with your business before responding. This may take some investigating. Your staff may feel defensive when questioned about a certain situation. Reassure them! It’s important to understand the problem to see what may have gone wrong.
- Be honest about mistakes. Outline what you will do to make it right.
- Apologize when necessary but avoid taking responsibility for situations that are not your fault.
- Express compassion and empathy for the customer.
- Reach out to your customer through email or call them to sort out the matter with them.
- Be authentic and genuine. Always sign your name to demonstrate it’s not an autoresponder and that you take the matter seriously.
“Google Small Business” reports that according to consumers, businesses that respond to reviews are seen as 1.7X more trustworthy than businesses that don’t.
What to do About a Fake Review
Some bad reviews aren’t from real customers. This doesn’t happen a lot, thankfully! It is possible bad reviews could be part of a negative SEO campaign or left mistakenly on your Google Business Profile for a business with a similar name. Here are some steps you can take to remove a fake review.
- Flag it. The first step to getting rid of a bad review is to flag it for Google to review.
- Contact Google support. If Google doesn’t take action after you flag the review you want to be reviewed and removed, contact support. You will need a valid reason to ask for a flagged post to be removed. It can’t be that you simply disagree with negative feedback. The review must be irrelevant, or invalid, and not simply unfavorable.
- Get more good reviews. Don’t hire a company to leave positive fake reviews for you—they only make you look bad—and savvy people can spot them a mile away. Instead, ask your previous customers to write reviews. Make it a habit to ask for a review whenever you do business with someone.
Keep in mind many people will question a company with only glowing 5-star reviews and look at them with skepticism since there are companies who do employ companies to leave fake reviews. Getting a few one and two-star reviews is your chance to respond with authenticity. It will show your current and future customers you take them seriously!