We received a very distressed call from a Yorktown business owner the other day. She had received a scathing online review – two actually – on CitySearch.com. She asked what we could do to “block the site”.
In a word; NOTHING.
But there are things you can do to tame bad customer reviews.
How Online Review Sites Work
The point of these sites is to allow consumers to post reviews of area businesses, giving other consumers the benefit of their experience. Happy customers can let others know about the great customer service they received, the great ambiance at your restaurant, etc. But, conversely, unhappy customers can rant about whatever they want and, yes, say things that aren’t true.
Mitigating a Bad Review
One bad review does not spell doom for your business, however. There are ways to lessen the impact of a bad review.
Respond to the Criticism.
As with most issues, it’s not usually the “problem” its how it was handled. You can post a response to the customer apologizing for their bad experience and let them know you’ll be in touch to see how you might rectify the situation. And once you have, ask them to update their review or post a new one to let readers know the situation was handled.
Provide a Different Perspective. Sometimes the customer is just plain wrong. There is nothing you can do to make them happy, and they just want an opportunity to vent their spleen. Recognize if this is the case and post a simple, “We’re sorry. Here is our policy…” type statement. Reasonable people – the kind you want to do business with – will generally recognize this kind of malcontent and your response will show them the kind of professionalism they can expect from you.
Build a Positive Following
Typically, a happy customer will tell one person, while an unhappy customer will tell 7. Add the power of the internet and social media to this and you see the potential for negative reviews to spiral out of control.
There is nothing wrong with being proactive and asking happy customers to provide you with positive reviews. By building a base of positive reviews, the occasional negative review will not have the impact it might otherwise.
You can even provide a small “thank you” for them taking 5 minutes to login or create an account to provide you with a review. More good customer service.