When your business gets a negative review, it can ruin your entire week. You may assume that one bad review will send customers away in droves the instant it posts. In truth, even a few bad comments won’t hurt your business at all, especially if they’re surrounded by numerous positive reviews.
With a little creativity, negative reviews can actually be used increase sales for your business. Here are a few tips to help you make customer commentary work for you.
Over the years, customers have become savvier when it comes to business reviews and in fact, when a company’s product or service only has five-star, glowing reviews, it can actually cause damage. On your own website, if the feedback is entirely positive, 95 percent believe the reviews are fake or company-screened. On a third-party site like Yelp or Angie’s List, readers will assume that a business has planted positive reviews and has few legitimate customers. As your business grows, you’ll likely be glad to see a combination of five, four, three, two, and one stars among your reviews, as well as a wide range of comments. This will help potential customers get the full picture.
The worst reviews state that a company doesn’t care about its customers or doesn’t listen to complaints. Put measures in place to reduce the number of customers who can say that about your company, Take every customer service call seriously. If someone is unhappy with what they’ve received, offer a full refund or a freebie to try to turn a negative experience into a positive. You may find a customer who would have initially left a one-star rant is instead giving your business five stars full of praise.
If you’re providing high-quality products and winning customer service, you’ll likely see very few negative reviews over the course of a given year. In fact, 85 percent of reviews are 4 or 5 stars, with the occasional low rating only dragging your overall rating down slightly. With so many good reviews, customers will likely not even notice the occasional bad rating among all the text.
Overall, sheer volume of reviews is a good thing, demonstrating that your business has served numerous customers. Make it as easy as possible for customers to leave a review for your business, including links in post-sale emails and signage where walk-in traffic can see it. This approach often captures your loyal customers, who are more than happy to leave a review for the business they patronize so frequently. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your best customers to leave a review for you online. You may get an occasional bad rating, but you’ll likely see a boost in sales due to your strong online presence. The more engaged you are with website visitors, the more easily you’ll be able to convert them into sales – these are hardly cold leads, after all.
It’s important to take swift action as soon as a negative review has been posted. You can’t constantly monitor your online presence, but there are services that will notify you when your brand has been mentioned online. Set up these alerts and assign someone to quickly respond any time a customer has something negative to say online, whether it’s on social media, a review site, or an online marketplace where your products are sold. In some cases, you’ll find the customer removes the negative comment or, at the very least, rethinks the original plan to give you bad reviews in additional places.
Often the best thing you can do is to step in as the business leader and apologize to a customer. This can happen either before or after a negative review goes live. Set up a system that will ensure you’ll be notified when a customer is unhappy and reach out to remedy the problem. Sometimes contact from someone at the executive level can change a customer’s perception, especially if you’re able to offer free products or a full refund.
Negative reviews can feel like a business killer but in fact, they often help your business more than hurt them. If you have a firm commitment to customer service and receive far more positive reviews than negative, you’ll likely find that customers see the bigger picture when they research your business.
Dan Steiner is an entrepreneur, Internet-marketing expert and author from San Luis Obispo, Calif. He currently serves as CEO of Avila Web Firm, an award-winning web-design and Internet-marketing firm. His work has been featured in a number of publications, including Entrepreneur, HuffingtonPost, and Inc.