While one negative review is unlikely to impact your business, a handful very well could, especially if you don’t have many reviews to begin with. The good news is that positive reviews are a powerful (and organic!) lead generation engine, and a few passionate customer testimonials can easily balance out a negative rating here and there. It all comes down to being proactive about your online reputation.
According to a 2015 survey done by the Pew Research Center, 82% of U.S. adults say they “at least sometimes” read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time—and 40% say they “always or almost always” do. That’s a whole lot of customers, helping each other out, and it’s a ton of potential referrals for you. So how can you use these reviews to your advantage?
Ask for reviews
The more reviews you have, the more likely people are to trust the positive ones (and the less likely they are to be influenced by one or two bad experiences). You might think you have to sit back and wait for reviews to come in, but it actually helps to ask!
When you know a customer’s had a good experience with you, mentioning your online reviews will make them more likely to leave one (“Your feedback means a lot to me. If you have a moment, I’d love it if you could leave a review online and share your experience with others!”).
To further increase your chances of getting a great review, send a follow-up email asking for feedback and include links to your online business listings. Many of your customers would happily leave a review, but life is busy—it helps if you make it easy for them.
Respond publicly to positive reviews
When someone leaves you a positive review, don’t just let the warm and fuzzy feeling wash over you and move on. Put it to use!
First, say thanks. Most review sites allow you to leave public responses, so take a moment to show your gratitude to your customer and highlight the positive attributes they praised. For example, if your customer says, “Great customer service!” a good response would be, “Thanks so much, Charlie! We pride ourselves on our customer service here at A2Z Solutions, and we appreciate your five-star recommendation.” Be sure to use the customer’s name, and to customize the message. This is an opportunity for potential customers to see your personality in action, so let it shine!
With particularly dazzling reviews, you may want to share them on your website or online business listings. Featuring specific testimonials will demonstrate to your potential customers that your value the customer experience—and hearing from fellow customers may just give them the social proof they need to do business with you.
Address negative reviews
While no one likes getting a bad review, we all know that you can’t please everyone. You will get negative reviews from time to time; what matters is how you respond to them.
The first question to ask yourself: “Did I mess up?” If your customer’s experience really was poor, you’ll need to apologize. If anything can be done to fix it, this is the moment to go above and beyond. Even if nothing can be done, a personal call or email can go a long way to repair the relationship.
If you can manage to turn the situation around for the customer, they may decide to remove or update their negative review. But they may not, and that’s okay. If you’ve done your personal follow-up and the review remains, address it publicly to show potential customers that you care and have taken steps to address the problem. You don’t need to get into the details. Your response can be simple: “Thanks for speaking with me on the phone, Charlie. I hope the steps we’ve taken to address the problem with your purchase help, and again I truly apologize for the inconvenience.”
If you can’t get through to your customer to do personal service recovery, respond to the review and let them know you’re trying to reach them and where to contact you. After that, leave them alone. If someone’s really upset, you don’t want them to feel annoyed on top of it.
Once you’ve addressed your negative review, repeat this process. Ask for reviews from satisfied customers, respond to those reviews publicly, and keep adding to your collection of reviews. Remember that there’s an exponential factor to online reviews—the longer you’re in business, the more you’ll have, and the more you have, the more trustworthy and consistent the positive ones will seem.
These steps are key to managing your online reputation, but remember that every review, good or bad, begins with an experience. The best way to build a stellar online reputation is actually pretty traditional advice: focus first and foremost on your customer’s satisfaction.
Curious about your brand’s current online reputation? Request an online reputation report card and we’ll analyze how you’re doing, for free.