Where’s the first place consumers go when they want to learn about a business? Google search, of course. A company’s reputation is defined mostly by what can be found online or in the news. With the ease of comparative shopping, it is more important than ever for businesses to maintain and develop their online reputation.
When it comes to platforms like Facebook, Yelp, and the BBB, it’s great to have a place where your happy clients can tell other potential clients about the service they received. But let’s be realistic – they can’t always be good. So what’s the best way to deal with those unhappy clients who are taking the time to go online and review your business?
As co-CEO and founder of Logical Position, a company who has managed thousands of AdWords accounts for all sorts of different small businesses across the country, I’ve learned a lot about how to deal with this situation over the years. Here’s my advice.
1. Don’t give your clients a reason to write a bad review.
The best way to handle bad reviews is to avoid them in the first place. How do you do this? By providing excellent service.
- Let your clients know who to go to if there is a problem and give them direct contact information for that person.
- Make sure that person checks emails and voicemails regularly in order to respond quickly to problems.
- Make sure all issues are dealt with promptly. The longer you wait to respond, the more upset the client will be.
2. Know where people can review you and what they are saying.
As a business owner, it’s important to be aware of what people are saying about you. Almost as important as providing excellent service is monitoring reviews closely to understand how you can improve.
- Google search your company name plus the word “reviews”.
- Bookmark every place your company is listed where a person can leave a review (Facebook, Yelp, BBB, etc.).
- Check each listing at least once a week.
- Setup a Google alert with your company name to monitor new listings on Google.
3. Understand who you are dealing with.
While reviews can give you a good indication of which areas of the client experience need the most work, remember that every person’s experience is subjective. There are often two types of people who leave bad reviews:
- Someone who legitimately felt there was no other way to get his or her frustration heard.
- Crazy people, trolls or competition
If you’re dealing with Person #1, chances are you need to change your process, or place more emphasis on an area where you are weak. This type of person may also be more responsive to working with you to get the situation resolved. However, if you’re dealing with Person #2, they may not be as reasonable about their judgment of your service or about working with you to resolve it. Or even worse, they may be a competitor. In both cases, you have to be careful about how you engage. As tempting as it may be, do not try and get the last word in. Anything you say, regardless of how reasonable and sane it is, will be met with unreasonable responses. The good news is that most often their responses will make you look more professional and leave them looking like… well… a crazy person.
4. So what do you do if you get a bad review?
As the person responsible for the success of your company, you are going to have to face this issue head on — ignoring it just leads to more problems. So you need a game plan.
Here’s what I recommend:
- Always leave a comment or rebuttal if possible.
- Don’t be argumentative.
- Try to problem solve.
- Give the person a means to solve the problem (i.e. “please call or email us to straighten this out”).
- If they continue to post negatively after you attempted to solve the problem, don’t post anything else. You don’t want a back-and-forth debate online.
The longer you are in business and the more clients you have, the chances increase that you will get a bad review. It is not the end of the world if it is handled correctly. In fact, it can be used as a marketing tool for showing the public that you will do something if there is a problem. If your company is doing the right thing in terms of providing a good product or service and responding appropriately to customer concerns in a timely matter, you should have nothing to worry about.
However, if you are like these business owners, you may have some things to worry about. A great example of what NOT to do when you are trying to keep all your reviews good ones!!