Do you freak out or become angry if someone writes a bad review about your business? You worked so hard and yet some of the people that receive your services whether a haircut, a meal, or purchasing a life insurance policy didn’t feel they had a good experience. It’s like a soccer punch to the gut. How do you not take it personal, it’s your business your passion, your life! How do you turn those negative comments and your feelings of rejection into something positive, yes making lemonade out of lemons.
According to a study conducted by Northwestern University, your business will actually be considered more legitimate by consumers if you have a mix of both good and bad reviews. Yes, they want to see some bad reviews. If consumers researching reviews only see shining accolades, it can actually damage your image. It creates skepticism. Surely no business is perfect. You cannot possible meet expectations of all your customers. But when consumers are reviewing the bad reviews, what they are looking for, is why you got the bad review and how you, the business owner responded. The response is the most important element. Positive customer service is what people are looking for. They want to see how you handled it.
Not responding is unequivocally deadly to a business owner. The consumer may think you just don’t care. Or you will be considered “guilty” as charged. Even if you think the review was not justified or someone just being obnoxious, or maybe they are writing on behalf of pumping up a competitor, you MUST respond. If it is a legitimate complaint, own up to it, take responsibility in the comment, take this opportunity to say “Mr. or Ms. Customer you are right” and then offer to fix it. If you think it is bogus, try to find a diplomatic way to address the review so that your customers will see that the complaint was not realistic, but in a nice way like “my style is a different than XX and so unfortunately we may not be a good fit.”
The good thing about reviews is that they are not usually anonymous. Example if it is a Yelp or Facebook Page review, the person giving the bad review is indicated. They may not be using their own name, but you have the ability to send that account holder a response, public or private message. Even if you prefer to send them a private message, make sure you write a public comment first so others can see you responded. You can say something like “ hey David, I got your review and would like to dialogue about your grievance. Shall I send you a private message? I aim to please my customers”. Then your viewers will see that comment and know you are going to take care of David, even if David’s complaint was not justified. Or you could say in the comment “David, stop in or give me a call so we can resolve the issue. Your complaint is important to me”.
The last thing to remember about responding to negative reviews: Don’t wait. Waiting is deadly. If someone catches your negative review and 24 hours or more has passed, the consumers are already making a judgement about you, and it isn’t good.
Social Media has changed the entire playing field today. Everything that everyone writes good and bad is out there for the entire world to see. You can’t hide so turn it to your advantage. By the way, if you get an awesome review, go ahead and comment on those as well. Someone took the time to write to you to share their great experience. Let them know you appreciate it. People do check out reviews in helping them make decisions about who they want to do business with.
Use your reviews to improve your customer service and make a better product and lastly, respond to your positive and negative reviews as quickly as possible. It helps your customers to know you, like you, and trust you and that is the name of the game. Have some sweet lemonade.