It happens to the best of us, and no matter how hard you try, it may happen to you too. Sooner or later, a dissatisfied customer will post a negative review of your business on the internet. If the complaint is off-base, it can be maddening. But before you log on and return fire, step away from the keyboard and think strategically. This is your chance to turn a negative into a positive.
It’s important to get this right. Your customers’ online reviews have never been more influential than they are now. Researchers consistently find that many consumers read these reviews before making a major purchase. This trend will only increase as digitally connected Millennials account for more of your customer base.
At Environmental Pest Service, a rapidly growing pest control company, we’ve learned what to do – and what not to do – about online gripes. Here are do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.
DO: PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION. Make it someone’s job to regularly read your company’s online reviews. If this is your job, create a consistent schedule to monitor websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Plus, Angie’s List, Ripoff Report or your company’s Facebook page. This will enable you to respond promptly to negative comments instead of allowing them to go unanswered. Not sure which websites you should be checking? Try asking your own customers which sites they use to find businesses like yours.
DON’T: TAKE IT PERSONALLY. Online reviews can be pretty harsh, but don’t get emotional when you respond. You’ll only come across as unprofessional. Keep in mind that your real audience here is the prospective customers who are reading that unflattering review. They’ll pay attention to how you handle it. Keep your response polite and constructive.
DO: RESEARCH THE ISSUE. Is the complaint legitimate or is it unfair? Find out everything you can about what really happened before deciding how to respond.
DON’T: JUST IGNORE IT. It won’t go away. Besides, responding to a negative review in a thoughtful and appropriate way will help minimize the damage in the eyes of potential customers. Believe it or not, negative reviews can make your positive reviews seem more credible. They give you an opportunity to show that you’re being proactive and that you care.
DO: DEFEND YOURSELF. You never want to get into fights with people on the internet. But if a reviewer’s complaints are inaccurate, you should say so. How do you defend yourself without sounding defensive? You apologize for the reviewer’s poor experience, then calmly and factually explain your side of the story (if there is a simple explanation) or work to take the issue offline.
By Mandi Harris