3 Ways to Prevent Bad Online Reviews from Hurting Your Business

Nobody’s perfect.

As business owners — no matter how hard we try — sometimes we fail to live up to our customers’ expectations.

My point is: Bad reviews are going to happen.

But guess what?

It’s not the end of the world! In fact, handled properly, a negative online review can even work in your favor. Read on and I’ll explain…

In 2016, it’s easy for unhappy customers to air their grievances — and to do so in a public forum.

It stings when it happens, and what’s worse: It can hurt your business.

But…

It’s how you handle these negative reviews that determines whether or not they affect your bottom line, so I’m going to give you three tips for turning those negatives into positives!

Because here’s the thing:

Your prospects read — and care about — online reviews.

According to the 2015 Local Consumer Review Survey:

  • 92% of consumers read online reviews (up from 88% in 2014)
  • 40% of consumers form an opinion after reading just 1-3 reviews

And unfortunately…

The people who are the most upset always seem to be the loudest!

I’m glad to say that our reviews are overwhelmingly positive — PostcardMania has a 4.7-star Google rating (based on 132 reviews). But when we do get a negative review, we do our best to turn that unhappy person into a satisfied customer.

A recent example:

A client of ours took to the internet to say she spent thousands of dollars with us and got nothing for it. My quality control manager contacted her to figure out what had gone wrong.

It turned out that she didn’t get the response she was expecting and was just disappointed. Our “qual” manager went over her results with her and she realized her return on investment was much higher than she initially thought!

But she was so pleased with our willingness to address the problem, she offered to take down her review.  (We would never — never! — ASK someone to do this, by the way.)

Have you ever heard of the “service recovery paradox?” It’s when a customer thinks more highly of a business after that company has corrected a problem than they would have if no problem had occurred at all.

Sometimes people are angry because they feel like they aren’t being listened to.

That’s an easy fix!

With that, here are three ways to prevent negative online reviews from hurting your business:

1. Make it easy for customers to reach out to you directly.

Invite your customers to email, text or call you with any issues. If they come to you first, they are much less likely to take to Yelp or other online forums to complain.

Giving them the chance to reach you privately tells them that you really care about customer service and want to make sure they’re satisfied — and it gives you a chance to address the problem.

Ideally, you’ll resolve the situation and instead of getting a negative review, you’ll get a positive one!

2. Ask for reviews from happy customers.

Rack up good reviews for your business so they outnumber any bad ones that pop up.

Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes:

If a business has 100 Google reviews and 92 of them are positive, what are you going to think?

Those 8 negative reviews are going to carry much less weight. Right?

And here’s something else to consider:

If you have tons and tons of good reviews, a couple of bad ones actually give them some credibility! Like I said at the beginning: nobody’s perfect!

3. Monitor reviews and respond to the negative ones.

If you don’t keep up with your reviews, you can’t respond to them — and if you don’t respond to negative reviews, it looks like you don’t care.

Not cool.

Plus:

By ignoring bad reviews, you’re missing an opportunity to turn an unhappy customer into a happy (and loyal) one!

There are plenty of tools out there (even FREE ones, like Google Alerts) to help small businesses monitor their online reputations.

As I said earlier:

How you handle negative reviews is what determines how they affect your business. Take the opportunity to turn the reviewer’s experience around and show them (and the other people who might be reading) that you truly care about their satisfaction.

Here are some tips:

  • Be pleasant, respectful and helpful (NOT defensive!)
  • Apologize when appropriate (“I’m sorry you had a bad experience…”)
  • Use the opportunity to highlight your strengths (“This is disappointing to hear, because we pride ourselves on our customer service…”)
  • Tell them you appreciate the feedback and will use it as an opportunity to improve
  • … And DO actually use it as an opportunity to improve — a negative review can alert you to a problem you didn’t know existed!
  • Invite them to contact you privately to take the discussion out of the public’s view
  • Be willing to offer compensation if the situation warrants it

Follow these suggestions and prospects reading your reviews will be impressed with your commitment to customer satisfaction. Then doing business with you won’t feel like a risk at all, because they know if they encounter a problem, you’ll fix it!

And:

You might turn an unhappy customer into a brand ambassador.

Questions? Call one of our marketing consultants at 800-628-1804 — it’s FREE! — or you can always email me directly at Joy.Gendusa@PostcardMania.com.

Best,

Joy

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