Oh No! You look on Yelp and your business just got a lousy review and two stars. Welcome to the age of consumer-generated content. This is not going away and that’s a great thing!
As long as I’ve worked with businesses in the digital age, I’ve heard owners and managers speak with horror at the prospect of bad reviews. Some business owners even refuse to create social media pages, Google Plus pages, or Yelp listings because they’re terrified of their customers writing and reading negative reviews.
Why I love bad reviews
Every bad review is a great opportunity to engage your customers and to turn a bad experience into a happy return customer. It’s actually really easy to do. The review sites generally provide a way to respond to negative reviews and this is a powerful way to engage online customers and prospects.
But you must do it without any rancor or defensiveness. Consider the fact that even if the person writing the review has poor social and writing skills, their experience with your business was not happy. They may not express that in a way that is very nice, but you don’t have to get yer back up about it. It’s NOT PERSONAL.
Your identity may be all wrapped up in your business but they don’t think about that. They just had a bad experience and they want to tell the world. Take a deep breath, tell yourself you’re going to get them back, and follow these simple steps.
3 steps to getting an unhappy customer back
They don’t have to be gone for good. You, as a business owner or operator, can get them back. Here’s how:
- Publicly acknowledge their bad experience without defensiveness.
- Assure them their business is important to you.
- Offer to make it right.
Here’s an example:
John and Susan, I’m truly sorry that you had a bad experience at our restaurant last Friday. Once in a while, despite our best efforts, we stumble. It’s not fair to you that we stumbled on your filet mignon. Let me make it up to you because I want your business for a long time. Please call at your convenience and ask for me personally. We’ll set this right.
Doesn’t that seem so human and approachable? Even if John and Susan don’t come back, everyone else reading that bad review sees your response. If John and Susan do come back, I guarantee they’re going to write another review that is stellar.
This accomplishes two things. It can turn that disgruntled customer into a truly loyal customer and it can impress future review readers with your professionalism.
People who read and write reviews of consumer experiences care enough to make their opinion known. They deserve your attention because they are helping you improve your business.
Granted, the reviewer may just be an asshole. But if that’s the case, chances are most of your reviews are better.
NOTE: If the reviewer is an asshole, just report them to the Internet Asshole Police. I think they’re listed on the NSA website.
Think about your own behavior on the web. If you look at a review of a restaurant and there is a negative review with no response from the business owner, what is your impression? I don’t wanna do business there.
If you’ve ever seen a great response to a negative review on Yelp or Google or UrbanSpoon or wherever, I’ll bet that you were as impressed as I am when I see this. When someone takes the time to care that much about their customers (and it doesn’t take that much time), it makes me want to do business with them.
Why you need to play this game
One study of consumer reviews of hotel choices said this:
“…positive as well as negative reviews increase consumer awareness of hotels, whereas positive reviews, in addition, improve attitudes toward hotels. These effects are stronger for lesser-known hotels. Reviewer expertise has only a minor – positive – influence on review impact.”
Another study tells us:
“With the growing availability and popularity of web-based opinion platforms, online product reviews are now an emerging market phenomenon that is playing an increasingly important role in consumer purchase decisions.”
Even forgetting about the pain of negative reviews, positive reviews play a role in brand awareness.
Best way to avoid bad reviews
The best way to avoid bad reviews is to offer great products and services. But, look, bad reviews are a part of the game. If you want to play, you’re going to get some bad reviews.
The great thing is that consumers are getting pretty savvy about this and they can discern if a bad review is from an asshole or from someone who really got a raw deal.
When I look at reviews, if there are lots and lots of good reviews with many stars, I purposely look for the bad reviews. I want to see what they say. If they’re written by s0ciopaths who live to make the lives of businesses miserable, I ignore them.
But sometimes, they say something relevant that I want to know. It doesn’t mean I won’t buy. It just means I’ll do more research. I think this is a good thing for The Webs. It makes them more webular and useful.
And isn’t that why we love technology?