As a business owner or stakeholder, you’re proud to take your company’s reputation and success personally. You’ve spent more than a few months perfecting your happy-hour menu, fine-tuning your merchandise mix, or training your all-star customer service team, and you’re certain all the hard work, effort, and attention to detail will bring nothing but praise (and profits!) from your clients. All to prevent a bad review.
And then your stomach turns when the notification from your favorite review site pops up in your inbox. The dreaded one-star rating. Suddenly, you’re brainstorming clever, yet scathing phrases to publicly insult that entitled, out-to-destroy-your-livelihood customer with a chip on his shoulder.
Stop. Breathe. Not only can you get through this scenario without a warrant for your arrest, but addressing poor reviews thoughtfully can improve your business! Here’s a fool-proof, step-by-step process to come out on top and better than ever:
How to Thrive after a poor online review:
- Step 1: Stay Calm
- Step 2: Evaluate the Review
- Step 3: Flag the Fakes
- Step 3: Respond with your Best Foot Forward
- Step 5: Address the Feedback
Step 1: Stay Calm
Believe it or not, even the best businesses get bad reviews occasionally. Smart companies take advantage of tough feedback to engage candidly with customers, make impactful changes, and build trust. Also, poor reviews (as long as they’re few and far between), can actually get customers to believe your positive reviews, and a well-written critique that includes the pros and cons of your service or product can help future clients make informed purchase decisions.
So, relax, take your one-star rating in stride, and get ready to tackle it with finesse.
Step 2: Evaluate the Review
First, read the review carefully to ensure that the review is valid and from a real customer. If you work in a competitive local market, the tough reality is that rival businesses may try to undermine your online presence with fake reviews. Cross-check the review with purchase records, service timeframes, and customer service requests to confirm the review is legitimate. The bonus here is connecting the dots will help you better respond to the review if it came from an actual client.
Step 3: Flag the Fakes
If you determine the review is likely fake, take all available measures to get the review flagged or removed. However, keep in mind you won’t always be successful in pulling reviews, as Yelp, Google, Facebook, and others have their own specific review audit policies and procedures.
Be sure to address the fake review publicly (even if you’ve already flagged it) so that customers know they should disregard its content. Be concise, courteous, and professional in your response – shaming the fake reviewer will make you look vindictive and undermine your integrity. Just state that the review does not appear to be made by a real customer and leave it at that.
Step 4: Respond with Your Best Foot Forward
If the review is real, you should respond to the customer as quickly as possible after you’ve evaluated the situation (ideally within 24 hours). According to Yelp, quick responses increase your likelihood of having reviewers revise their star ratings by up to 33 percent.
Keep your response brief and positive, but make sure you’ve clearly owned up to and apologized for the complaint (we’re all adults here). Thank the reviewer for their feedback and offer to fix any specific problems stated in the review. Finally, directly message the customer (if possible) to invite him or her back or continue the conversation offline.
Step 5: Address the Feedback
Poor reviews happen for a reason, so make sure you learn from your mistakes. Evaluating and acting on honest, critical feedback is one of the most efficient ways you can make your business better. If your service is lacking or your product isn’t working, make a solid effort to fix it. If you aren’t meeting your customers’ needs, the poor reviews will keep coming.
And if all else fails . . .
Consider partnering with a quality online reputation management firm that can help you leverage search tactics to minimize poor review fallout and provide ethical methods to improve your online presence.
SEO Design Chicago specializes in online reputation management for companies of all sizes, and our search engine and review experts can help ensure sure your great reviews stay front and center. Contact us for a free consultation – we’re excited to help you succeed.