So You Got a Bad Review? That Can Be a Good Thing!!!
So the dreaded day has come your small business has received a bad review. You have paid what seems to be a small fortune to your SEO consultant in order to rank high for your keywords putting you on the first couple of pages of Google and other popular search engines. Or perhaps you did all the work to rank high all by yourself via blogging and other content marketing strategies. Now you have a bad review and it shows up on the first page of Google and other popular search engines —now what? Now is the time to shine —that’s what! Getting a bad review can actually benefit you and your community of current and potential customers, if the situation is handled immediately and properly. The number one reason that a bad review is a good thing is because it is a learning experience. It is the opportunity to grow and improve, Bill Gates put it best, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
Hopefully you will never receive a bad review online (or anywhere for that matter) but the truth of the matter especially in business is that you can’t please everybody all of the time so there is a chance that you will run into a few unhappy customers here and there. The first thing you should do when you receive negative feedback is pinch yourself because someone cares enough to aid with helping you to improve your business. That person took the time out of their busy schedule to write about their bad experience at your business so that you can essentially fix the problem that has happened. Who is better to get feedback than from someone that has patronized your business? Now granted, it is better to be able to solve any problems before it is placed on a review site or social network for all to see. BUT the good part about everyone seeing it is that it gives you a chance to show the community how you handle problems if they arise, ultimately making your business completely transparent. Transparency is a trait that customers desire and respect and it can keep them around for the duration of your business. After you pinch yourself it is important to get to the root of the problem so that you can provide the right solutions for the situation.
In order to solve the problem gracefully you must:
Understand It is important to read and re-read the review to make sure you understand the complaint. If it is possible contact the person that left the review via email or phone. Let them you know you have received their review and you would like to speak with them regarding their recent experience so you can provide a fair and reasonable solution.
Fix After you have a clear understanding of the problem fix it. The customer may say what they think you should do when you contact them in order to understand their issue. If the request seems reasonable honor it. It is a lot cheaper to keep and market to a customer that has already been to your store or e-commerce website than trying to attract new ones. If their request is not something that you will be able to do be honest and go over the solutions that you will be able to provide. When the problem has been solved go back to the review and respond to it. If the title of the review is “Bad Experience at Stones and Potatoes” then in the title of your response write, “Bad Experience at Stones and Potatoes: Reply From Owner” so that it can show up in the search engines with the original review. You can also ask the customer (after they acknowledge that they are satisfied with the solution you have provided) to update the review.
Reward It is important to not only fix the problem but to also throw in a little something extra for the inconvenience. This step right here is the secret sauce to turning an irate customer into an evangelist for life. I’ll give you an example, I have always been a lover of Panera Bread. One day a few years back, while working at a law firm I ordered my lunch via phone so that when I got there I could pick up my food and have a smooth 45 minute lunch break. Let’s just say that when I got there my break was anything but smooth! My food wasn’t right, my smoothie wasn’t ready, and it just wasn’t the the great service I was used to getting. After an extra 10 minute delay and the order being made wrong again, I asked to speak to the manager because I wanted a refund. I only had about 12 minutes left before I had to go punch back in —UGH! When the manager arrived he listened to my complaint. Once he understood where I was coming from he apologized for the inconvenience, gave me the refund, had the line cook prepare the sandwich right (while I was making my complaint) gave me my meal on the house, AND he rewarded me with a $15 gift certificate! As a result I am still a customer and I rave about them all the time (see I even did it here!). I will be a customer there for life because of how they handled the problem I had with them.
Assess When the issue has been resolved go back and assess the situation. Did you handle it in the best possible way to benefit both parties? What needs to happen so that this situation doesn’t take place again with any other customers? Document the incident so that if the problem happens again you have a reference for how it was handled. This information may be helpful to other members on your staff for dealing with the same situation.
Follow-Up From time-to-time keep in touch with the customer. Contact them on the phone and ask them how they are and if they have made additional purchases since the bad experience. By doing this you are treating them like a VIP customer and letting them know that you value their business and their opinion. How many times has a business owner, CEO, or manager followed up with you after a bad experience? My point exactly…so if you practice this in your business you are guaranteed to have a customer for life.
Ultimately, no business is perfect all of the time but it’s the imperfect moments that we really get a chance to shine. If you encounter a bad review online or in person, don’t get defensive or upset. Make it a point to learn from the experience and turn the situation around so that the customer will return —for life. Besides you never know, that complaint could be worth $4 million if handled properly with care!
Have you received a legitimate negative online review? If so, how did you you handle it? If not, do you feel prepared to handle one if it ever happens to you? Share your small biz diamonds in the comment section below.
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Have a successful day!