I rarely write online reviews, even about the best customer experience. How about you? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most of us are not very generous with praise online. Most people only write an online review when they’re unhappy about something and they want to fight back.
Should You Ask for Online Reviews?
I have written some good reviews online for service providers when they’ve asked me. When you know your best customers are delighted, why not ask them to provide a good review?
For restaurants, you can give them a card with the url for Yelp. For hotels, you can provide a feedback card asking guests to leave a review on Trip Advisor. There’s Google Reviews, Amazon Customer Reviews, Consumer Reports and many more … the list goes on.
But hang on. There’s something you should do first.
Listen Online First
Before you start asking for online reviews or creating any social media, make sure you’ve spent some time ‘listening’. If you blindly rush into social media or asking for reviews, you could be missing negative comments online about your business that you have to deal with first.
Does Your Customer Service Stink?
Imagine your customer had a terrible service experience in your store. She wanted to return a defective item and experienced a big hassle and a negative attitude from your sales clerk. She loves your products but she’s not going to put up with that attitude she suffered through.
Expect Them to Write Bad Reviews Online
This riled-up customer searches for your company’s social media and finds nothing, so she writes an online review hoping for a response. Crickets – your company posts nothing and she feels ignored. You were not listening. Other customers chime in to commiserate and describe bad experiences they had as well. Your company still does nothing. You have no idea you have angry customers creating a negative impression of your business online.
You’re Going to Create a Company Facebook Page Now?
A month later, you hire a social media intern and he creates a Facebook page. He starts posting happy thoughts and store promotions. Your angry customer finds it, and feeling ignored on the review site, blasts you with nasty comments about your bad customer service. All your new followers see it.
Oops, bad move. You’ve just created a platform for others to publicize your deficiencies. You should have spent some time listening online first.
You Have a Negative Online Review – What To Do
Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Is it too late for you to benefit from Warren’s wisdom? Not necessarily.
If you do find negative comments, it’s true that you are stuck with them. You can’t remove negative reviews, but you can certainly address them. Think of them as an opportunity to show how responsive and professional you can be. Be incredibly polite, and:
- Apologize sincerely
- Tell them you’ve heard them
- Thank them for bringing the problem to your attention
- Show them you understand
- Say you take their comments seriously
- Fix the problem and consider providing compensation if appropriate
- Show how you plan to make changes for the future
- You might revamp your customer service model
- Post online about the changes you’ve made to prevent future problems
- Consider offering incentives to persuade or entice customers to try your business again
You might think this is a lot of effort, but if you can win them over, it will be worth it in the long run. You need to be in a position where it’s acceptable to request they remove their negative comments or write a satisfied follow-up comment.
Keep Listening Online – Dig Deeper
If you were just about to create your new company Facebook page, you now know you shouldn’t act so fast. Do some online listening first and find out what they’re saying.
Just don’t stop digging after one or two sites. Do searches on Facebook and Twitter. Check out Hubspot’s list of online review sites and set some time aside for a whole lot of research. You might just be able to save your reputation before diving into online reviews and social media that could potentially make it worse.
Going forward, continue using your social media sites and online reviews to take care of your customers’ questions and concerns. Prove you’re listening and respond quickly. For more words of wisdom, I like Feast Interactive’s blog post, which provides a thorough explanation of the best practices around social media and customer care.
Good luck! Please tell me if you find any reviews of your company, good or bad. I’m ready to help, so let me know if I can provide further advice or write your online responses to help you win your customers back.