Review Management Best Practices for Local Businesses
So it happened. The review that no one wants. You work tirelessly to train your employees to treat each customer's project with care, accuracy and respect, so how is it possible for you to get a review like this?
Whether or not training is an issue here, the review needs to be addressed. If you are a local solar installer, HVAC contractor, or home performance company with few reviews, this negative review will likely make potential customers find a different option. Unfortunately, unless it’s Facebook and you want to turn off all reviews, you can’t delete it. So what can you do?
Start soliciting positive reviews.
Why Reviews Matter
Over 88% of consumers make purchase decisions based on reviews. Pair that with the fact that people with poor experiences are more likely to write reviews than those with positive experiences, and this may seem like a tough game to play.
Think about the last time you had a poor experience with a company or purchase. Whether it was poor customer service or a defective product, it was likely frustrating. You probably thought about blasting them on social media for a second - and maybe you actually did. The reason? You wanted your issue to be heard and addressed.
How to Deal with Negative Reviews
You need to combat negative reviews in the same way you would want your complaints to be addressed. Whether or not the customer’s reaction or issue is valid, it’s best to respond in a calm and understanding manner. They are already worked up over an issue, so it’s best not to fuel the fire. In the best case scenario, you change this negative review into a positive review, and the worst case scenario, you just appear as a business that cares about making their customers happy.
Remember that review we got?
(Oh right, how could we forget!)
What Not To Do
Don’t do this:
Try This When Responding to Negative Reviews
While you may never make the person who wrote the review happy (because sometimes you just can’t please certain people), this response shows that you are personally invested in the outcome, and whether or not the person actually sends an email, your company is reflected as responsive and positive.
Increasing the Volume of Reviews
So you have responded to the negative reviews, but they still have brought your rating down to a *gasp* 3.9. Because 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, it’s important to address this. To overcome those few negative reviews, you simply need to grow the number of positive reviews of your company. When people see few negative reviews amongst a large number of positive reviews, most people come to the conclusion that the negative reviews are anomalies. Another important fact to remember is that most consumers need to read an average of seven positive reviews before trusting a company.
So how, exactly, do you generate more positive reviews? There are a number of different software options out there to help facilitate reviews like this — and chances are, you have at least some of your customers’ email addresses for soliciting reviews. It is important to remember though that reviews won’t come flooding in overnight — and you don’t want them to. If all reviews came in on the same day, consumers are likely to notice that and it may have a negative effect on how they perceive your business.
Getting the Best of the Best
Now you have a game plan. You are going to email everyone that has ever had you do a job for them.
But, not so fast...The first step is to remove any emails of customers who you know had a less-than-positive experience with your services. Asking them to review you is just silly. Give your list a quick scan, I’m sure if you have been privy to issues, a few names may pop out.
What if you aren’t able to pinpoint the negative ones before you ask for reviews? Depending on which software you use, or whether you create your own emails, you may be able to request private feedback before asking for a public review. Only ask those that rate you positively in private to review you publicly. If you are on multiple review sites, and one has a significantly lower rating than the others, focus your efforts on that particular review site to bring up the rating. However, do NOT solicit Yelp reviews from your customers. Yelp has a strict no-solicitation policy. Dan wrote about them cracking down on this recently.
The feedback that you receive, whether it is posted publicly or not, should be valuable to you. A lot of people won’t voice issues or concerns in person to the employee who provided the service, but if you ask them to provide feedback from behind a screen, they may be more open and honest. The feedback you receive can help you determine whether your staff needs additional training or where your service is lacking.
If you have been sending requests for feedback for two weeks and you have no new public reviews yet, that’s okay. First, if you are taking your time sending out requests for feedback, you likely haven’t sent more than 80 requests yet (if you are sending 5 requests per day for 2 weeks). Give the public reviews a little time. Second, not everyone is inclined to provide feedback, and even fewer are likely to leave public reviews. Remember what I said earlier? It’s even harder to get someone who had a positive experience to leave a public review than someone with negative experience.
While this process isn’t a flip of a switch, it is something that you should consider working on regularly. Remember to always respond to negative reviews and then take it a step further and thank those leaving positive reviews. Also don’t forget to ask your customers to provide you with feedback and reviews as soon after their service as possible. This is when it is fresh in their mind and they can recall the experience. Even if some time has passed since the service, it’s still a good idea to ask for a review. Even if they don’t leave you one, you remind them that you are there if they need additional service.
In today’s digital world, reviews will happen whether you want them or not. Where 80% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from friends and family, it’s important to stay on top of the review game. Whether you are combatting negative reviews or not, make sure to always be proactive, in both responding to reviews and soliciting new positive reviews.