Google reviews of your business are important in retaining and attracting new customers. The feedback provides you with insight into your business practices and how well you are doing. It is practically impossible to please everyone all the time. Even though you don’t want negative reviews, there is bound to be one at some point in your business life. How you respond to negative reviews can be as crucial in client retention as a good review.
According to BrightLocal, 93% of people searching for a business or service using the Internet as their primary source. More than 85% of those people read the online reviews on Google while making a decision, and more than 95% of those said that they read the business’s response to the reviews. So, how do you respond to negative comments about your company? Ignoring the review won’t make it go away; non-response is a response in and of itself. Familiarize yourself with some of the best ways to handle this negative feedback, and then contact the team at Rein to help implement these strategies.
You receive a Google Alert that you have a new review. You get excited and rush to read it, only to find that the client has bashed you. Your blood is pumping, your heart pounding. How dare they! Now what? Your first instinct is a toe-curling, tongue-lashing reply. STOP! Breathe. That is not a response that you want to implement. There are several things you need to do before you respond to the feedback.
- Don’t take it personally. Your company is your “baby,” you put a lot into it, and when someone says something negative about it, your first reaction is to defend it at all costs. Take your personal feelings out of the equation and try to look at it objectively. Give yourself a few minutes or hours to gather information and calm down before replying.
- Sort it out. Before you can reply to the client, you need to have as much information as possible. Using the review, trace their interaction with the company. This could mean looking up their sales, chats with your customer service department, and speaking to staff that had contact with them.
This is not the time to assign blame to anyone; it is a fact-finding mission to shed light on the situation and find a solution.
- No matter what your fact-finding mission reveals, even if the customer is wrong, you need to reply with an apology and do so quickly and publicly. 96% of people who send in negative reviews expect a reply within 48 hours.
- This first contact should be a reply to the Google review, not a phone call or text. Responding publicly indicates that you are not trying to cover up the problem and pay attention to your business reviews. You can get more personal later. This first step is essential not just for the complainant but also for potential business from people reading feedback as they search for a company online.
Sympathize with their situation, even if you know it isn’t right, let them know you are sorry they feel they had a bad experience with your company. This is an excellent place to add some PR to the tone, “We have always been known for our efficiency; I’m sorry we didn’t live up to our reputation this time.” Keep it short and sweet.
- Don’t make excuses for the problem; it makes you look like you are passing the buck rather than being a leader and taking responsibility for the problem. Your client doesn’t care if Joe’s car broke down while delivering their dinner; they want to know you have a solution.
- Offer reimbursement or some form of compensation for their trouble. If their dinner was late and cold, offer them a replacement meal. If they have taken the time to send the review, they feel they have been outed something, time or money, or both. The first step in retaining their business and possibly even having the negative review reversed is acknowledging and compensating for their loss.
- Understand that negative can be positive. Perfection is a near-impossible status to reach. Most people do not expect a business to have a blemish-free reputation. One negative Google review will not devastate your business if it is appropriately handled and not ignored. Responding publicly can make the negative review much more positive when read by other consumers.
So, you calmed down, publicly apologized, made contact with, and reimbursed the upset consumer. What next? The bad review is still on Google, and you would like to have it removed. You can do a few things; however, there are no guarantees that it will be removed – don’t fall for companies offering to remove bad reviews for a fee; they are only going to try the same steps you can do yourself.
- Privately ask the reviewer to remove the content. If you have done everything you can to appease the consumer, ask them if they would mind deleting their feedback. Please don’t do this publicly; it appears like begging.
- If you can’t convince them to remove it, ask if they would be willing to change it to a more favorable rating. If you have worked with them toward a mutual resolution, you should get them to at least modify the content.
- If you aren’t able to get them to remove it, go over the content and compare it to Google’s guidelines. If anything meets the criteria for prohibited content, such as fake content or offensive content, contact Google and start the process to have it removed. This won’t happen overnight; Google will investigate the review before making a decision.
Consumer input in the form of feedback is a crucial part of your business, and Google reviews are one of the primary areas consumers leave comments, both good and bad. Negative reviews are not the end of the world. You need to understand how to approach them with finesse. If you need help with this, the team at Rein is ready to jump on board and show you the best path.