Online reviews used to be reserved mainly for restaurants and the hospitality industry. Today, they have a major impact on all businesses, big and small. Even professionals, such as doctors, vets, and similar practices, are not immune to reviews.
The importance of reviews cannot be underestimated, and they are a powerful force. Studies have shown that 85 percent of people looking at business, products or services online read reviews and they put a lot of faith in what they read. Most people tend to trust the opinion of their peers more than the marketers and advertisers, and value online reviews as strongly as they value the opinions of friends and family.
Reviews are a double-edged sword. Positive reviews can be a major boost for your business, but too many negative reviews could spell disaster.
Dealing with reviews
The first thing to do is to be aware of what people are saying about your business or product. You can’t bury your head in the sand and ignore the problem – it won’t go away. Register on all relevant review sites, create alerts and monitor them regularly. If you don’t have time for this, delegate it to a responsible person. Just be wary of letting others handle the responses. Many people aren’t that skilled at handling online reviews correctly without proper coaching.
Many negative reviews are unfounded or exaggerated, but some are valid. The valid complaints provide you with valuable information on the service levels in your business and provide an opportunity to make improvements.
The first thing is to address the complaint or negative review as quickly as possible. Establish the facts and resolve both the internal issue that caused the complaint, as well as address the reviewer’s issues. You don’t always have to give away freebies but acknowledge the complaint and take steps to rectify the problem. Always follow up to ensure the issue has been adequately addressed and the client is happy. A well-addressed negative review could become a new raving review if the issue is correctly resolved.
Some reviewers are very brave behind the keyboard and can be quite abusive in their comments. Resist the urge to retaliate and don’t stoop to their level. This will backfire and cause more negative publicity.
You will never be able to satisfy all customers. So, in some cases, you will have to do your best. If you have tried to make amends and they are still not happy, there is not much more you can do. Throwing a bunch of freebies at them will probably only encourage them to try their efforts again.
Don’t forget to acknowledge the positive reviews as well. This will make the people who wrote them feel appreciated and possibly lead to more business and more positive feedback from these happy customers.
What to do if you have several negative reviews?
First, as previously mentioned, address the cause of the negative feedback, provided it’s valid. Strive to always deliver exceptional service and treat every customer as if he or she were a potential reviewer.
Second, solicit reviews from happy and loyal clients. Most people will be happy to do this if you approach it in the right way. Do not bribe them with free offers but request honest feedback. The positive reviews will soon outnumber the negative ones and push them further down the review page.
Use the positive reviews to your advantage. Social proof is a powerful tool, so display some of your better reviews on your website or use a few in your social media accounts.
Reviews are not going to go away and are increasing in volume and spreading to all aspects of a business. Many people will see them, and most trust what they read. Reviews can be a powerful tool or a potential disaster for your business.
Understand them, take them seriously, and do everything in your power to make them work for your business and not against it.
If you are experiencing a major problem with negative reviews, talk to us about online reputation management. We have experience in mitigating the effect of the negative feedback and boosting the positive reviews. That way, people searching for your business are more likely to see the positive feedback first.
One of the best remedies for a poor review portfolio is a system to increase feedback and generate more positive reviews from real clients.