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August 17, 2018 By Hendrik-Jan Francke

How to Handle Reviews: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

You can’t make everyone happy—some of the first wise words your mom tells you as a child. And if you own a business, you may have learned this lesson the hard way.

You can’t make everyone happy—some of the first wise words your mom tells you as a child. And if you own a business, you may have learned this lesson the hard way.

It’s tough, if not impossible, to escape a negative review here or there. The feedback is usually about something you can change to improve your business. But sometimes the reviews are just plain nasty.

Either way, you have to deal with the review. Your best option is to practice reputation management.

Reputation management is proactive; it empowers you to shape the perception of your business by encouraging reviews and influencing how they appear online.

Here are some key aspects of reputation management you can use to handle negative reviews with the least amount of damage to your business. Or, even better, to help you avoid the bad review altogether.

First, the Importance of Good Reviews on your Google My Business Ratings

Google My Business, also known as Google business cards, are essential to attracting potential customers.

Google business cards give loads of information about your business: your address, hours, upcoming events, and, you guessed it, reviews.

With the reviews posted to your Google business card comes the star ratings. It’s hard to comprehend how a couple of geometric shapes can have such a huge effect on your business, but those little stars attract a lot of eyeballs.

google-review-post-spas.png

Let’s say your prospect does a Google search of “spas near me”, and all your competitors have 4 stars while you have 3. Sorry 3-star spa, you don’t stand a chance of getting their business.

Not only does a low rating reflect badly on your business, it also affects your Google ranking.

Businesses with higher star ratings appear higher up in the search engine and in Google maps.

Remember, Google wants people to keep using Google. And helping people find the good spas reflects well on Google! So the frequency, consistency, and strength of your ratings are factors in where Google places your business in their listings.

You want your star rating as high as possible to guarantee your business is sitting pretty at that #1 spot.

Now that we know the importance of high and frequent ratings, how do we limit those pesky 2- of 3-star ratings? You know it, you love it, it’s reputation management!

Reputation Management: the Key to Preventing 1-Star Ratings

The best way to deal with negative reviews is address them BEFORE they reach your Google or Facebook page.

Your best bet is have a process for soliciting and collecting reviews: a reputation management tool. Such a process gives you a better chance of dealing with negative reviews directly and before they are public.

On your website you can collect reviews. You can email your customers and solicit reviews.

That way, a scathing review comes to you, offline, via your process and not directly on Google or Facebook.

Now that you know someone is upset, you can reach out to the customer. Have a discussion and address the issue. Why are they so upset? What can you do to fix it?

If you handle it well, the customer will be satisfied that the issue has been addressed. And it isn’t online for everyone to know. See below for tips on how to handle bad reviews that do make it online.

Ta-da! Crisis averted. And all because you gave your customers the ability to express their opinion directly to you.

Pushing Positive Reviews to the Public

Reputation management features also let you direct positive feedback to public domain.

Instead of passing the review to you, the reputation management tool will ask the 4- or 5-star rating to be shared on Google or Facebook. This tool can send them directly to where they should post that review, making it easier for you and the reviewer.

It’s important to direct positive reviews to public spaces. If you don’t have a tool that takes the reviewer to Google or Facebook, you can reach out yourself and ask them to post it. The worst they can say is no.

If you don’t have a reputation management tool, make sure to give explicit directions on where and how to post the review. This saves the reviewer a lot of hassle finding where you want the review posted.

Another easy way to get a positive review, whether it be directly to you or to a public space, is to send a personalized email to recent customers.

Did they have a good experience? What specifically stood out to them? Would they recommend you to a friend?

What to Do About that Negative Review

You open up your email to see that you received a review on Google My Business. Yay!

Your stomach drops when you spot that sad, single star. You gut instinct is to attack. How dare they say those things about your business!

As hard as it may be, try not to lash out. Take a deep breath, we’ll get through this together.

Respond to the review as quickly and politely as possible. If it’s something brief, offer an explanation that includes:

  1. The mistake and why it occurred
  2. An apology
  3. A clearly stated resolution
  4. Compensation, if necessary

Make sure you outline what you want to say before writing the response. It can prevent unintentional sass (it’s hard to hold back, I know) and ensures that all parts of the issue are addressed.

Planning on keeping the review on the public domain? Here are some examples of good responses. And some really, really terrible ones too.

If not, take it offline. Offer an email or phone number where the reviewer can contact you.

With discussion, many misunderstandings or mistakes can be hashed out. If the issue is resolved, ask the customer to update their review.

This not only shows that you solved the problem, but that you are willing to work closely with customers so they are receiving the best possible service.

Beware the Fake Review

Not every negative review can be easily rectified. If you are unlucky enough to get a fake negative review, you might struggle to improve your rating.

Don’t assume a review is fake just because it’s negative and biased. But if it is riddled with inaccuracies, or describes a service provided that never actually happened or doesn’t exist, don’t hesitate to say so.

See how this business owner handled getting three fake reviews in the span of a few minutes.

There is research showing that negative reviews cannot be trusted, but it’s not because they’re bogus.

Most of these reviews are completely legitimate, but they only reflect a sliver of customers and rarely offer an objective view of their experience.

Overall, the experience the reviewer had could’ve been good, but with one small mistake. And if the reviewer is angry enough about that mistake, you’ll never hear about the rest of the relatively good experience.

But any review, good or bad, is a result of intense emotion. That’s why it’s so important to respond to both kinds of reviews.

Why You Must Respond to Positive Reviews

The flip side of the review coin is responding to positive reviews.

By responding to positive reviews, you are validating the already great service you gave.

It makes your business seem more credible and appreciative of its customers. In fact, 78% of customers believe a response makes a business seem like it cares more about its customers.

Your response should be genuine and fitting to the review. Here’s a step by step guide on how to respond to different types of positive reviews.

Your Reputation Precedes You

Getting a negative review is never fun, but catching the review early can prevent it from leaving long-lasting effects on the reputation of your business.

Reputation management helps maintain, and sometimes restore, the stature of your company and let’s you decide how you want your business to be portrayed to the public.

By putting in place features that allow you to vet reviews and opinions from the public, you are in control of how people view your company.

It stinks knowing someone might not be happy with something you put work into. But make sure to look on the bright side and use the feedback to your advantage.

Your business can never stop improving so make sure to listen closely to those Negative Nellies. They might be the key to making your business the best it can be!

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