Picture this: You know your business offers great service and products, and you take pride in the honest approach you have with your customers. So, you decided to take a look at your Google and Yelp listings to see some of the reviews left by customers. Maybe you’ll be able to find some standout reviews to add to your website or some great compliments that you can pass on to high achieving employees. You find a few shining reviews that make you feel good about your business and the direction it’s going, but about halfway through your reviews, you’re suddenly hit with a few particularly bad reviews that don’t spare any of the details. It almost knocks the wind out of you. How could this have happened? Can you remember the experience the customer wasn’t pleased about? What can you do to fix this?
The most important first step is to take a deep breath, get focused, and push aside and emotional reactions you might be feeling initially. Negative reviews are never fun to deal with, but they can serve as a growing experience for your business if you handle them the right way.
Firstly, NEVER post fake reviews or have someone post them for you. It’s risky to create fake posts and if you get caught, best case scenario is that the customer will view you as untrustworthy and take their business elsewhere. The worst case scenario is that your listing could be flagged by Google or Yelp for suspicious reviews and you could even get in trouble for the law if you’re paying for bogus reviews. There are really no good outcomes with negative reviews, so it’s best to just not do it.
Now you can address your negative reviews. Make sure you’re doing it personally, but do it with care. It’s usually best to deal with negative reviews offline, so connect with the customer via email or a phone call to get more details about their experience. Ask them questions, let them vent if they need to, and offer a discount or refund if you feel it’s warranted. Act like the review was about you personally, because, after all, you are the face of your business. After this interaction, you should prioritize each future customer service interaction to ensure you’re using this negative review to improve your business.
While you should deal with it offline, it can help to show other potential customers that you take reviews seriously by responding directly to the review offering to work with the customer to remedy their negative experience. This can be where you invite the customer to email or call you directly to go over everything. Practice self-restraint when responding, rather than jumping to you businesses defenses immediately.
Finally, be proactive. Reach out to customers via email or a phone call to ask how their experience with your business was. This is a great way to find out what you’re doing well, what areas you can work on, and, most importantly, catch complaints before they’re posted online. Get yourself on the front lines with customer service to help your business move up faster!