More and more people these days rely on online reviews before making a purchase. According to Zendesk, 88% have been influenced by an online customer review before making a decision.
According to a survey run by PhoCusWright, this is especially true for the travel and hospitality industry. More than 80% TripAdvisor users say that the site’s reviews help them plan accommodation. In fact, 50% usually or always reference TripAdvisor reviews before selecting a restaurant.
People’s reliance on online reviews is increasing every day. This makes it important for any business to get as many positive reviews on consumer review sites.
Many businesses take a short-cut and ask their family and friends to publish reviews. This is not only unethical but also illegal. You can read more about the ethics of managing online reviews here.
It is important to understand what motivate consumers to write reviews? Once a business understands this, it will help them generate positive reviews.
Why Do Consumers Write Reviews?
Majority of customer’s write reviews for positive reasons. They feel good about sharing useful information with other users.
They want to reward the customer who have provided them with a pleasant experience. They are happy with the service they received or the product they bought.
They want others to feel confident about the product or service they are buying and help them make informed decisions.
Understanding why people write negative reviews is a bit more complex.
Just like positive reviews most people provide negative reviews to help others. They want to ensure that no one else goes through the same experience that they have been through.
The direct consequence of writing negative review to help others is to attack and harm the business they are writing about.
People don’t write negative reviews because they have an agenda against a business. They write negative reviews because they are unhappy with the experience they had.
Most consumers prefer to first provide the feedback to the business directly. They would only publish negative reviews online if they don’t a satisfactory resolution or if they feel that their feedback has fallen on deaf ears.
Some consumers write negative reviews because they may have had an unfair or traumatic experience. They may have been ridiculed or belittled by the business. Writing bad review online might help them feel heard and even forget the experience. This is the best way for them to cope.
Tackling Negative Reviews for Better Online Reputation
Nobody wants negative reviews but the matter of fact is that they do happen.
Negative reviews can adversely affect any business. Businesses looking to manage their online reputation must have procedures in place to efficiently respond to negative reviews.
Proper handling a negative review also gives you the opportunity to retaining the customer.
Here are some ways you should deal with negative reviews.
Be Quick to Respond
When you respond promptly to a review, it shows to customer that you respect their feedback. It also shows to them that you are listening to them and you are keen to resolve their issue.
This also gives them confidence that you are aware of the problem and you are working towards resolving it.
As a business your first response to any negative review is to empathise with the reviewer.
Your response should always start with Thanking the customer for their feedback. This should be followed by your willingness to listen to the customer’s problems and resolving the issue.
Many business owners have a lot invested into their business (emotionally and financially). It is easier for their emotions to get better of themselves and attack the reviewer or go defensive.
Even if the reviewer uses sarcastic or unparliamentary language, you as a business owner should not respond aggressively.
When faced by such a review, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and then respond.
Take the Issue Offline
Your response should be to invite them to speak with you so that you can better understand the problem and resolve it.
This will help you take the review offline and not give undue attention to the negative review. Many review websites run algorithm to push reviews that have a lot of responses and hits higher.
On successful resolution of the issue, put a brief response to the review highlighting that an amicable solution has been reached.
To be better placed to tackle any negative online reputation issues, you need to make sure that you are actively involved in managing your reputation.
Understand who your customers are and what platforms they use.
Monitor Your Online Presence
Before you can start responding to any negative comments, you need to understand what platforms your customers are using and what are they saying about you.
You need to then actively scourge those platforms and monitor these platforms to keep on top of any comments that are posted about your business.
There are a lot of Social Media tools like Social Mention, Whos Talkin, Sprout Social and Hootsuite can help you monitor what is being said about you online. Sprout Social and Hootsuite can also help you monitor social media and manage your social media accounts.
Also, you can setup alerts on Google Alerts for your business. Google Alerts. Google Alerts will send you email alerts as it finds new information related to your settings.
Keep An Eye On Review Sites
You should regularly monitor review websites that list your business. Make it a standard practise to visit those review sites at least once in a day. If your business has an admin assistant or a receptionist, make it their task to monitor these sites.
Make sure that any response on behalf of your business is carefully thought and vetted.
It is also important to understand how these review sites work.
Yelp recommends reviews based on what its algorithm thinks is going to be useful for the community. These reviews are ranked based on their quality, reliability and the reviewer’s history on the website.
The best way to offset negative reviews is to encourage your customers to leave reviews. But don’t influence them to only provide positive reviews. Show to them that you are sincere about their feedback and improving your business.
Provide links to your listings on your website, affix window stickers at your business. Put a note on your receipt requesting reviews from your customers.
Educate Your Staff
Your staff is generally the face of your business. It is important that they understand the consequences of your actions.
A large number of complaints are service related. This is especially true in industries like travel and hospitality.
It is important that every staff member within your business understands their role in provide quality customer service. They need to understand how their actions affect the business. The best way to help them understand is to share both positive and negative reviews with them.
Always appreciate them when you receive positive comments. But do not berate them when you receive negative comments. Most people want to excel in their jobs and mostly bad service comes down to either lack of training or processes to deal with difficult situations.
It is important to understand where your staff made a mistake and how you can ensure that it is not repeated in the future.
Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining
Not all negative reviews are bad. They give you an opportunity to understand what is wrong with your business and give you an opportunity to improve.
Smart Operators look at a negative comment as an opportunity to convert a disgruntled customer into a business evangelist.
A negative comment gives you an opportunity to open communication with an unhappy customer. It gives you an opportunity to correct your mistake.