Consumer have a wealth of choices at their fingertips. For any given product or service, chances are good that they’ll be able to choose between many different businesses as they research and make a decision.
Among the key factors many potential customers take into consideration when looking for the best choice for their needs are online reviews. This is true whether your business is fully online or also offers brick and mortar locations – customers will have opinions they want to express either way. And while negative reviews might frustrate you and you might be tempted to simply ignore the less favorable opinions, it’s vital that you respond to them.
If you find yourself stressed over answering reviews, consider hiring an agency that provides reputation management as one of its services. AZ Media Maven monitors and answers reviews for clients on Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, trade-specific sites, Facebook, and more. Managing reviews is a critical component of digital marketing for small businesses.
Here are our suggestions on managing negative online reviews for your small business:
1. Demonstrate your customer service
First and foremost, negative reviews offer you the chance to showcase your customer service skills. How you approach unhappy customers is just as important as how you interact with those who loved your product or service. Reviews, negative or positive, can influence who decides to do business with you in the future.
Take reviews as an opportunity to show how dedicated you are to your customers. Apologize for their experience or explain the circumstances behind it and acknowledge the problem. The key here is taking accountability.
For example, if you are in the hospitality industry and a restaurant patron had an exceptionally long wait time, acknowledge their frustration and show empathy for how the wait tarnished their visit. One of the most effective ways of diffusing frustration and anger is acknowledging and honoring the reviewer’s feelings.
2. Resolve conflicts with transparency
Opening a friendly dialogue with unhappy customers also is a good first step, but what comes next is equally important. Why is the customer mad? Could you have prevented the negative experience? Customers are often upset because they don’t understand the process you have to follow when rendering goods or services. If their complaint is due to something out of your control, explain that so future customers understand what to expect. Transparency is a great way to build trust. And if you or your team screwed up, then say so and apologize for the oversight.
3. Why silence is harmful
When you ignore negative reviews, the people reading them have no reason to believe they’re false. If you respond, on the other hand, they have cause to believe that you’re actively involved in your business and aren’t afraid to interact with your customers. And if they have a choice between a business with a few negative reviews with zero response from the owner or staff vs. a business where there are well thought out replies, they’ll probably opt for the latter.
Online reviews can help you build your business, and that’s true even if they’re negative. The most important thing business owners can do is address the issues brought up in the comments and explain what happened and why. Potential customers will appreciate the transparency and communication far more than they would silence.
AZ Media Maven is based in Laveen, AZ, a suburban village in the greater Phoenix area. Owner Rose Tring has 25 years of journalism experience as an editor and writer, many of those years in business news. AZ Media Maven was created to serve other business owners in learning how to best use social media. Reach AZ Media Maven by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling (602) 373-8371.