For small businesses, reviews and managing them effectively are becoming a necessary and important way of life. The quick, instant access the public has to social platforms such as Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp and so on make it easy for your customers to share their experience with your business. What if their experience was negative? Chances are they will be quicker to post a bad review about that, rather than a positive experience. Unfortunately, that is how it goes and it can’t be ignored. According to an article by Lifelearn, 69% of customers look online for reviews and 72% say they trust online reviews. So how do you deal with it without escalating the situation and more importantly, keeping your image positive and proactive? We have found a few crucial steps necessary to positively manage any and all reviews.
- Make Sure You Claim Your Listings First things first, you must claim your business on pages like Yelp, Facebook, Google, Bing, Angie’s List, etc. You can’t deal with a bad review if you don’t know about it! There may be various listings out there you should check into depending on the type of business you have. If you have a physical location, a listing is often set up without you even knowing it. Just because you don’t have an account on Yelp, doesn’t mean there isn’t a listing for you where people are rating you and commenting on their experiences. You need to know when this happens! One of the most crucial things you can do to help your business is to get on top of these listings. It is free to go in and claim a listing as the business owner. While you may get solicited to buy advertising packages, it isn’t necessary to buy anything to claim your listing. Also, you will benefit from a boost to your organic SEO by getting yourself properly listed (correct address, phone number, web address, etc) on multiple business listing sites.
- Investigate and Address Any Lapses in Customer Service With Your Team If you find yourself getting more negative reviews than you would like, it is time to take a hard look at your business and your team. We all know that sometimes people just like to complain…about everything. However, their perception will quickly become your reality if you don’t keep it in check. Discuss the importance of treating every customer with dignity and respect and remind your team that their behavior is key to promoting good reviews and positive feedback online and within the community in general. Explain the importance of a bad review. We all have our days, however, give your employees the kind of empowerment where they can quickly address complaints or dissatisfaction on the spot, rather than see it online in a bad review 2 days later.
- Respond Promptly Now that you have claimed your business listings, you will be notified when you get a review, and some like Yelp will even send you a monthly snapshot of the activity. When you receive a notification of a review, good or bad, make sure you respond quickly. If it is a positive review, respond with a thank you within 24 hours. If the review was negative, you need to respond even quicker! According to the same article from Lifelearn, statistics show that 70% of people who complain are hoping to receive a response. You could deduce that most complain online because they had a truly bad experience and they want to be heard and acknowledged. (Don’t we all?) Find someone within your company who would be willing to put alerts on their smart phone so they can respond within a few hours when possible and make sure they are on the same page with you as to how to deal with it.
- Respond Professionally Discuss how you would like to respond to both positive and negative reviews with your management team . The positive reviews are a bit easier, something like, “Thanks Jenny! We are so glad you enjoyed yourself with us yesterday, and we appreciate the 5-star review, hope to see you again soon!” It is important to show appreciation for those good reviews, and engagement with your customers is one the benefits of social media! Take advantage! If it is a bad review, and we’ve seen some doosies, make sure you respond and offer to take the complaint offline. Keep the emotion out of your response. For example, “Jenny, we are so sorry to hear about your negative experience. We take your comments very seriously and value your opinion. Please contact me directly via email or phone (your choice, I would offer both) so we can discuss your situation more thoroughly.” It is important for the public to see that you are addressing complaints quickly and sympathetically, even if the complaint was completely off base or even untrue. Whatever you do, DON’T get into an online argument with a disgruntled customer. Even if you are completely right and the customer is out of their minds, you won’t win by posting your argument online. And if they do reach out via email or phone, make sure you get back with them quickly, or guess what? They will be right back online telling everyone how you wouldn’t take a call or respond to their email.
- Encourage Happy Customers to Post Reviews The best way to overcome a few bad reviews is to dominate your listings with positive reviews! If you have a good relationship with some of your patrons, simply ask them to review your business. You can also display point of purchase materials reminding people to give you a review if they enjoyed their experience.
Keep in mind, if you have an abusive, harassing or simply false review, it still needs to be addressed. Depending on the channel, in some cases you can report abusive behavior, block them or delete them. Just make sure these measures are a last resort. People will catch on if you are deleting all negative reviews, and the platforms will catch on too. People are pretty smart, so if they see a few blazingly bad reviews amongst dozens of positive reviews, they will know what to do!
All in all, managing your business listings, and the reviews that go along with them, is crucial to promoting a positive image and reputation online. While it can be a slow and arduous process, make no mistake, it is necessary. Taking these steps will get you and your business online in the most positive light. There are some great tools out there that allow you to assess your business listings and get you on track. Need help? Please contact us and let us get started on this process for you!
Also published on Medium.