Online reviews can make or break your business. According to a 2016 survey by BrightLocal, 84 percent of customers trust online reviews as much as personal endorsements. That means your customers are trusting someone they don't know to help them make the decision to work with you or not. Since online reviews are so important, you may be wondering what to do if you get a negative one. Here's what you need to know so you can come up with a game plan.
Is the Review Justified?
There are cases where reviews are not written by real customers. Some examples include a competitor looking to downgrade your business, a disgruntled ex-employee, or someone with a personal vendetta against you. If the review is unfair, you may be able to get the review site to take it down. Contact the site's administration, and be prepared to show proof that the review is fake. Most review sites will not take down reviews from real customers.
Take a Cooling-Off Period
If the review is from an actual customer, you probably feel upset. Take some time to cool off before you do anything about it. Know that you can't please everyone, and try not to take the customer's comments personally. A bad review can actually be a good thing; according to Reevoo, 68 percent of customers trust a business more that has both good and bad reviews. All businesses get bad reviews from time to time.
Respond to the Review Publicly
After you have calmed down, respond publicly by leaving a comment on the customer's review. Both the unhappy customer and anyone else who reads the review will know you care about your customers' experiences. Be professional and extremely polite. This is a big opportunity for your business, so word your response carefully. First, apologize, even if you think the customer is wrong. Ask how you can help make the situation right. Don't say anything about changing the review--most review websites don't allow this. Own up to your mistakes--customers will see you as a real person who is doing their best to make customers happy.
Ask Customers to Leave Reviews
More positive reviews will diminish the effect of the negative one. According to BrightLocal, seven out of ten customers will review your business if asked. You can't offer any kind of incentive to do so, since this would violate most review sites' policies and in essence be paying customers to write reviews. However, it never hurts to politely ask for reviews in person or on your website.
Learn from the Experience
Take negative reviews as constructive criticism. Your knee-jerk response may be that a customer is wrong, but try to see the truth in their review. Use this opportunity to find areas your business needs to improve. Do you need better customer service, planning, employee training, or follow-up with customers? Work out a plan for making your business better by addressing these issues.
If your business gets a bad review, know that it's not the end of the world. Deal with the situation politely and professionally, and potential customers will see that you care about making customers happy.