Given that online reviews are growing in importance for attracting new customers to a business, it can be devasting if your business becomes the target of bad online reviews.
The Importance of Online Reviews
Depending on which study you read, consumers today are basing 55% – 92% of their buying decisions on reviews they read online. Whichever study you follow, these numbers represent that a growing number of consumers base buying decisions on online reviews. So, if your business gets a bad write up you’ll need a plan for responding to try and offset the impact.
Disgruntled customers will write reviews on multiple platforms including Yelp, Facebook, Amazon, Travelocity, and Trip Advisor. Most review platforms provide a space for businesses to respond. Respond to all reviews. The good ones as well as the bad ones. When you get a good review respond with something like, “Thank you. We are happy you enjoyed our service.”
The Benefit of Bad Reviews
If you never get any bad reviews both Google and the online reading public will think that your reviews are fake. So, getting a bad review once in a while is actually a good thing. What’s detrimental to your business is if you don’t respond to the bad reviews. Ideally, you’ll want the bad review to come off the site. To do this, engage the person who left the bad review and offer to speak with them directly. Provide your phone number so they know you are serious about fixing any issues they may have. If the customer is happy in the end, ask them to remove the negative review and/or write at the bottom of the review that the complaint has been addressed.
Unhappy Customers Versus Trolls
How you respond to criticism is part of your company’s brand. Fast, professional service is still the gold standard, so quick, courteous responses will serve your business well. Yet, a common conundrum is how to tell the difference between a disgruntled customer and a troll who posts malicious fake reviews.
Dealing With Malicious Trolls
When dealing with malicious trolls, you need to respond to the review site hosting the fake review and ask to have it tagged or removed completely. If the fake review must stay, you could write under the review that you’ve checked your company’s files and that you don’t have any records of this “person” ever interacting with your business. Then if the platform tags the review as malicious content you may have been able to neutralize the effects of the fake review.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Google will push your business to the top of the search engine results (SEO) when people are looking for your product or service if your website has many positive reviews. But remember without a few negative reviews no one, not even the Google search engine, will think any of your reviews are real.
Elaine Allan, BA, MBA
Technology & Business Blogger
Vancouver, BC, Canada