The advent of instant, real-time customer feedback is something business owners are still getting used to. The anonymity of the internet can allow people to leave scolding reviews in the heat of the moment, without recognising the damage this can do to someone’s business. As online reviews are trusted in the same way as word of mouth they play a significant part in consumer behaviour.
Social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk however, has highlighted the shift back towards an old style of business in which customer service is valued again and businesses improve as a result. In this sense, negative reviews can therefore be seen as a gift disguised as a curse.
Being able to group the type of negative feedback you receive is important in knowing how to respond to it. Business author MJ DeMarco recognises four types of complaints that your business will likely receive. They are:
This happens when return customers are resistant to something you have changed. Tracking metrics such as bounce rates can reveal when a change you’ve made to your website is unfavourable. Don’t be afraid to take things back to their original form just because you’ve invested money or time in them.
This occurs when your reader doesn’t get what they expected. Ensuring your content is relevant and your inbound links are from relevant and quality sources is an important part of having your customers maintain a positive outlook.
Complaints of void occur when you don’t have something your customer wants. These are important because they reveal exactly what you could potentially improve on – and if you directly do so, customers will be grateful that their input was valued and will develop loyalty.
Depending on your business, a money back guarantee is usually a good option. Whilst this is less relevant in an internet marketing context, the lesson to be learnt here is to keep your records and policies tight in the unlikely event that someone tries to file a lawsuit.
What you should NEVER do when receiving an unfavourable review or complaint online:
1. Engage in an argument with the reviewer
2. Ignore the response
3. Write fake positive reviews to balance out the negative reviews
So when your business receives a negative review, how should you handle it?
Obviously the best thing to do is have excellent customer service so the negative review is never written in the first place. If a problem is common then you should try your best to fix it. If you have a large amount of positive reviews then one very negative review, readers will understand that it is likely an anomaly. If however the same issue is coming up again and again then it needs to be addressed.
Whilst you can’t monitor all personal complaints, you can follow major review websites related to your niche. Sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp allow you to create a profile with some, such as Hostel World, giving you the chance to respond directly to complaints. Furthermore, if you search for your company in twitter you can see what people are saying there and jump straight into the conversation and respond directly to give thanks, apologise or ask for feedback. If the review is emotionally charged it is always better to try and contact the reviewer privately to resolve the issue before getting into a large public debate.
Bonus Tip: Google Alert
Google Alert is a function that allows you be notified by Google whenever your business name is mentioned online. This is great for monitoring your customer reviews in real time.
People who are dissatisfied are naturally more likely to voice their opinions than those who are satisfied. With a little encouragement satisfied customers will usually hand out positive reviews quite easily and this can be the difference between a negative and positive public perception. You can also introduce future incentives such as discounts in order to encourage reviews.
Ultimately negative reviews are at times unavoidable but by having a strategy in place that responds quickly to them, they can be manageable. If you would like to know more about how you can get started with a social media strategy, contact us today.