• Ouch! What should you do when you get a negative review?

    in Small Business Marketing on March 18, 2020

    Upon first use of her long anticipated Easy Bake Oven, our young daughter exclaimed in exasperation, “This is not an Easy Bake Oven! It’s a Hard Bake Oven!” It’s likely that her expectations were too high to begin with, and the product wasn’t wholly to blame for her disappointment. Negative customer reviews online may also result from unrealistic customer expectations. Moreover, these bad reviews may not tell the whole story, be unwarranted …  or even fake. So what should you do when you get a negative customer review? Here are some tips for dealing with unhappy customers online:

    • Do not underestimate the impact of online reviews. Studies have shown that 88% of consumers trust online reviews  as much as a personal recommendation. It’s important to accept that your customers will believe online reviews. That’s why it is important to have a strategy for responding to them.
    • Consider reviews an opportunity. You will get negative reviews. While they may be hurtful, you should embrace them for the insights they provide. It gives you an opportunity to fix issues you may not have known existed. Earnestly and honestly investigate what happened to cause the customer to have a bad experience and fix what you can on your end. Craft your response by apologizing for the experience. Tell what you are doing to remedy the cause of the situation, and invite the reviewer to take the discussion offline to talk personally. By admitting fault and addressing the situation, you show that you care about your customers and are more concerned with their satisfaction than saving face.
    • Embrace slight imperfection. No one is perfect. In fact, Spiegel Research Center found that purchase likelihood typically peaks with ratings in the 4.0 – 4.7 range, and then begins to decrease as ratings approach 5.0. The goal is to keep your overall average up, not to have all 5-star ratings. If you find your ratings creeping down, ask for more reviews from happy customers to give you a boost.
    • Respond 100 percent of the time. Even if the reviews seem irrational or unreasonable, address each negative review calmly and rationally. According to Google, consumers believe businesses that respond to reviews are 1.7X more trustworthy than businesses who don’t (76% vs. 46%).
    • Responding appropriately can drive a reviewer to change their review. In a study published on Moz, customers willingly reversed their negative reviews because of a variety of reasons:
      1. 70 percent said that poor or rude service was rectified by a second experience in which staff were caring.
      2. 64 percent mentioned that the owner/manager/staff proactively, directly reached out to the customer with a remedy.
      3. 32 percent mentioned that the item was replaced or the job was re-done for free.
      4. 20 percent mentioned that the customer decided to give a business a second chance on their own and was better-pleased by a second experience.
      5. 6 percent mentioned that the customer realized the fault for a misunderstanding was theirs.

    While you cannot change the past, or what others think and feel, you can choose to remain calm and kind, honest and trustworthy. By owning your mistakes, being willing to fix them and communicating with your online reviewers, you are more likely to build a referral base that will garner you more good reviews than bad. So, if you find yourself at the bad end of a review, remember all is not lost. Some of your worst customers may turn out to be your best if you handle the situation properly.