Your worst nightmare as a business, negative reviews can do more than just hurt your feelings. Thanks to easy access to the internet 54 percent of consumers will check you out online before doing business with you. Among those individuals 84 percent trust the online reviews they read about your company—just as much as if they were asking someone they knew in the real world. That is nothing to sneeze at. So what do you do if your business has received negative reviews from disgruntled consumers? Start by understanding the power of reviews, and then take these steps to repair any damage to your online status.
Power of Online Reviews
When it comes to online reviews your business depends on them. If you don’t have an online presence your brand is as good as gone. That’s because everyone has instant access to these reviews, and they use them to determine whether or not to do business with a company. More so, people love to leave reviews.
The good thing about these reviews is they show your business where improvements are needed. Rather than ignoring these reviews, do a customer service check by reading everything posted by your customers. Then gather the information and summarize everything that is posted about your business. Make note of any one-offs, such as the random complainer who has posted negative reviews of every business they’ve visited. You don’t want to get bogged down by this negativity, but if there is any way to learn from it, that’s the goal.
Finding Reviews of Your Business
In reality, online reviews offer the most substantial service in terms of market research. These reviews are randomly posted by actual customers who’ve utilized your services. Additionally, the reviewers are not being paid to review your site, so you can better trust their judgment. To find reviews of your business check out these sites:
- Google reviews found by doing a Google search of your business
- Yahoo! local reviews found by searching for your business via the Yahoo! search engine; yes people still do Yahoo!, and while it’s only 10 percent of search volume this 10 percent may have a lot to say about your business
- TripAdvisor if your business is in any way affiliated with travel or tourism
- Facebook Ratings and Reviews, which is located on the left-side of your Facebook Page
- Amazon for any products you have sold knowingly or unknowingly through the site; for example, your stock may be sold used or via third-party retailers on the site, so while you are unaware of the transaction your business may have been reviewed by shoppers
- Angie’s List
- Better Business Bureau
- Consumer Reports
- Glassdoor is a good place to review what your employees, former and current, have to say about your business
You can also find reviews of your business by reading comments posted on your company blog, if applicable.
Repairing Review Damage
What do you do if the reviews you find are sub par or downright nasty? Don’t delay in acting on it, as nearly 75 percent of consumers want to see positive reviews before they will trust a business. Keep in mind that old reviews often lose steam, and 73 percent of consumers don’t think reviews older than 3 months are useful. However, rather than waiting around for that to happen, be proactive. Why? A whopping 90 percent of consumers read the first then reviews of a business and make a judgment based on those. So if you have a few bad reviews most recently, push them down the screen.
According to Bright Local seven out of 10 customers are willing to leave reviews. So go ahead, ask your customers to leave reviews of your business. You see this all the time when purchasing from Amazon, as sellers will send out emails to customers requesting a review of their business transaction and/or product. Send out an email to your customers asking them for feedback on your business. Request that they share the review on a certain site, such as Yelp or TripAdvisor, while including a link to the site.
Of course this won’t guarantee that the reviews these customers post are positive. However, if there is a reason that more than one or two customers are being negative Nancy with their reviews, chances are it’s not them—it’s you. Here again, this is where the market research afforded by online reviews can help your business. Take into consideration what everyone’s complaining about, and make steps to correct the problem.
This is where replying to reviewers comes into play. Once you have corrected the issues noted in reviews, let the reviewers know. Here are some tips on making the most of those replies:
- Leave a reply to all reviews posted about your company, whether the reviews are happy, sad or indifferent. This lets the reviewers, and general public, know that your business cares what consumers think.
- Don’t argue with the customers when posting a reply even if you are adamant that they are wrong. Remember, the customer is always right!
- Maintain a positive confidence when responding to reviews. For example, when reviewers are over-the-top aggressive in their reviews, take the upper hand and let them know you have heard them and will improve the experience next time.
Dealing with Fake Online Reviews
And then there’s the fake reviews of your business, either from competitors or third-party review services. How do you deal with that mess? First, do your research to determine if in fact the review is fake, and the reviewer is a troll. Then flag or otherwise alert the website to the suspicious activity. What you don’t want to do is ignore these fake reviews, because just like negative reviews, fake ones can be just as damaging to your brand. Finally, don’t take revenge on the reviewer, say if it’s a competitor, by putting out fake reviews of your own.
At the end of the day online reviews are some of the best marketing tools you can utilize for your business. You just have to know when to hold them and when to fold them, that’s all.