When you think of review websites which ones come to mind? Yelp, Google, Facebook, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Open Table? All of the above? These are just some of the outlets where customers can leave reviews on their experiences with your business. As businesses rely more and more on the internet to gain valuable customers these sites become even more valuable. In fact, a study done by the Harvard Business School found that a one star increase in overall rating on a listing results in a 5%-9% increase in revenue. That’s not a statistic to ignore, especially for restaurants whose profit margins are razor thin. Not to mention, try doing any search for a local business and not get reviews as your first results (aside from the actual business website.) Google takes it even one step further and gives them an entire section to the right of the results with reviews from around the web.
A common misconception about these online review sites is that once a reviewer leaves a review, whether it be positive or negative, that that is the end of it and it is set in stone. On the contrary this is simply not true. The great thing about these sites is that they offer you a variety of tools to communicate with the reviewer to resolve their issue with your business.
What to do when you get a bad review
- Respond to the review publicly – Virtually all of these review sites give you the option to respond to a reviewer. Because there are always two sides to an experience this feature is helpful for a variety of reasons. First, it gives the business owner the opportunity to apologize to the customer for their bad experience. It also gives you the chance to offer to make-up for the issues they sate they had. You should never use this strategy to get defensive and bash a reviewer and/or call them a liar. Even if you disagree with what the person is saying you should be apologetic and legitimately take their problems in to consideration, as tough as it may be.
- Respond to the review privately – If the matter at hand is a little more sensitive, responding to the review privately may be a better option. This also serves the purpose of an owner being able to give a customer their personal phone number, or email so they can continue to work on solving the issue offline if they choose to. Responding privately also shows to the customer that the business cares enough to personally reach out.
- Flag the review – There are a number of reasons you may want to do this. Maybe you feel (or know) that this review is a conflict of interest. For example it could be a competing business, an upset ex-employee, or someone who hasn’t even visited your establishment and is contributing a review based on information they heard from someone else. The best course of action is to flag or report the review. This alerts the sites moderators to check into the review and its validity. This won’t always work, however if it is very apparent the review violates the sites terms and conditions it can result in the reviews removal.
- Respond with thanks – Make it known that you are aware of their review and appreciate them taking the time to write one. This shows them and other potential customers that you care about them as consumers and are taking time to respond even to an unfavorable review.
What NOT to do when you get a bad review
- Deny the issue exists – When a customer has a complaint the worst thing to do in any situation is to deny that the issue exists. While denying doesn’t look good, getting defensive looks even worse. Regardless of how you feel about what the customer wrote in their review denying and coming back at the customer lowers your chances of resolving the issue to a big fat 0%. Even if you feel that the problem is on their end, you should acknowledge the issue, and work with them to see if you can resolve it. Because a customer has the ability to update and/or change their review if they feel you went out of their way to help. And it happens much more than you think.
- Argue With Reviewer – Of course it’s only natural that you feel angry when you receive a bad review. However, the worst thing you can do is post negative comments in a public forum, because of the internet, these last forever and give a negative image of your business. Local papers, blogs, and media outlets scour the web for these types of controversies daily and if they stumble upon an argument between customers and owners they’re going to write about it. And it’s not going to look good on your end if you are openly arguing with a paying customer.
- Fake reviews – Some owners may feel the urge to write fake positive reviews to even out their rating. Or even hire people to write positive reviews. Yelp specifically has systems in place that can track a multitude of things including IP address where the reviews are being written. If they see that an overwhelming amount of 5 (or 1) star reviews are coming from the same IP address they are going to look into it. And if they find out there is manipulation happening you’re going to get dinged – hard, in the form of consumer alerts. Another way they can track review manipulation online is through evidence of companies exchanging something of value (money, free items, benefits) in return of positive reviews. The consumer alerts even show evidence to users when they land on their business page of the companies attempt to dupe users.
- Do nothing – Ignoring the reviews gives the image that you don’t care what people think. Even if the review is bad, taking action on them shows that you at least care about people’s experiences at your establishment.
Reviews aren’t going anywhere anytime soon so it’s best you start taking action to ensure your business is handling them properly. Not to mention reviews show up in search results, directly under you business listing in some cases, which adds another layer to SEO efforts. If you follow these guidelines and take a proactive approach to online reviews you will see increased revenue directly stemming from websites like Facebook, Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, Open Table and others.
We stress online reputation management with all of our current and prospective clients. With now more than 93% of online experiences beginning with a search engine it more important than ever to have you brand image in order. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can shape your internet image and grow your positive reviews get in contact with us to see if our Reputation Management services are right for you!