Most people will access your business from the Internet before you ever see them face-to-face. You can create a dynamic website paired with an excellent social media presence, but a customer can be turned away quickly by the new word-of-mouth: a negative online review.
The problem with a negative review is twofold: not only is it evidence of an unsatisfied customer, but they are turning away potential customers. How do you keep this from affecting your business?
One thing you probably shouldn’t do is fine your customers for negative reviews. Take it from the Union Street Guest House: it will only hurt your web presence more.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t respond to negative reviews. If fact, actively pursuing that customer and working to address their grievances could help you gain a loyal customer for life.
If you choose to respond, remember to be polite, courteous and express a genuine desire to fix the problem. Their concerns are likely legitimate, or at least the customer believes they are strongly enough to leave a poor review, and you should take the time to address them. Respond privately if you have the option to do so.
Don’t ask the reviewer to take down the review unless you have worked to find a solution and the customer has expressed a newfound positive outlook towards your business. Asking them to take it down without showing any interest in their concerns will make matters worse, but it is within the scope of reason to ask them to delete or alter a bad review if they no longer hold that opinion.
Some reviews can be aggravating. A customer makes unfounded accusations against your business or a legitimate review comes off as just plain nasty. It’s understandable to feel frustrated. This is not the time to craft your response.
Take a deep breath, step away from your computer and come back with a clear head. Try to remember the review is not a personal attack and remain open to constructive criticism. Put yourself in their shoes. If you were the customer purchasing from your business, would you have the same concerns?
Coming off irritated or accusatory in response to a review will not only anger the individual further, it will come off as petty to your potential customers if it is posted publicly. All you can do is be as respectful and polite as possible.
Encourage positive reviews
So you’ve tried improving the review with the customer and they still aren’t satisfied. You can’t get rid of it. You can’t ask them or the website to take it down. What’s next?
Encourage the customers you work with who are clearly satisfied to leave a review online, either on your Facebook, Google reviews or a review source like Yelp or Angie’s List. However, if you’re going to solicit positive reviews from your customers, make sure they are sincere. Don’t use paid marketers to post fake reviews because you could be sued, and don’t post disingenuous reviews yourself or ask your family and close friends to do the same. Prove you are a distinguished business through the clientele who are eager to recommend you.