Have you ever searched for a restaurant or bar online, seen it’s golden 5-star rating, and thought, ‘It’s just too good to be true?’ Well, chances are, you could be right. The natural reaction to an all-perfect score is to question whether it’s authentic or not, given how many different opinions we all possess. Not everyone will love something, so we tend to trust a bad review or two.
Well, the same applies for other businesses, especially the smaller ones. Negative reviews aren’t always nice to read, and some people certainly take it too far, but when you can see how a business has responded to a negative review or proven itself in the face of criticism, it boosts your faith in the business tenfold.
So before you freak out over a poor review or a critical comment, read this, because it’s not nearly as bad as you might think. And if you still feel you need a helping hand in building a strong online reputation, we’ve got just the ticket here.
Customers see you in action
There’s nothing worse than seeing review after review of a business – all negative – because it sends customers running for the hills. But there’s a flipside to copping a bit of flak. You see, when a customer complains or vocalises their disappointment, it gives you the chance to give your business its own voice, and show other customers how diplomatic you can be.
According to a new True Local report, 80% of businesses have replied to a negative review they received, most commonly in the form of an explanation (52%) or an apology (41%). Over half have taken the criticism and made changes to their business (53%).
So if someone complained the service was slow, it’s the perfect opportunity to admit your mistake, apologise, and offer to make it up to them. Say a customer didn’t like the taste of a dish at your restaurant. You can thank them for the feedback and let them know you’re trying out new flavours so you get it right for next time. Offer them a discount to entice them back, and you can bet they’ll tell all their friends how well-received their feedback was.
It makes you look authentic
Nobody is perfect, and it’s the same in small businesses. So if all your reviews are glowing gold stars, people sometimes get skeptical. In fact, True Local’s recent study showed 9 out of 10 consumers feel more positively about a business that responds to negative reviews and tries to resolve their problem.
The same study also showed 85% of respondents felt uncomfortable at the idea that a business would delete or screen out negative reviews, because it left them wondering how often they do it, and if they can trust the brand. In fact, two-thirds of Aussies doubt the credibility of businesses with only positive reviews, and this number is on the rise.
You can one-up your competitors
Chances are if you’re in a popular industry, there’s another business out there flatly denying any wrongdoing online. You know the ones; they lash out at the customers leaving negative reviews, rather than reviewing their own policies and processes. And studies show it does not leave a good taste in consumer’s mouths.
In fact, True Local’s new study shows 15% of businesses have denied negative reviews, 15% have ignored them, and 8% have even deleted them altogether. Meanwhile, 89% of consumers feel good about a business when they see they’ve tried to resolve negative critiques. So why not one-up your competitors by being the bigger person, and building a reputation for listening to your customers.
You’re welcoming engagement
You can be the best business in the world, but unless people are out there talking about you and spreading the good word of mouth, you might as well have all negative reviews. That’s because in today’s day and age, the interactions between customers and businesses are paramount to building a good reputation and online presence.
If your business becomes known for being a brand that responds to reviews – the good and the bad – then regardless of what kind of review people leave, they’ll know you’ll get in touch, listen to their comments, and do your best to improve your product or service. People respect brands that actively talk to their customers and seek out suggestions for improvement, and negative reviews can help start this conversation and reputation.
If in doubt when it comes to responding to an online review follow our 4 simple steps to responding to negative reviews:
- An introduction goes a long way – the person responding on behalf of a business should provide a name and business title to show customers that real people work there – this will make the process more personalised and conversational.
- Thank the reviewer for providing feedback
- Apologise to the customer for the fact that the experience didn’t meet their expectations. Acknowledge the issue and let the reviewer know the business will attempt to rectify the situation to ensure it doesn’t happen again in future.
- Take it offline – to stop the issue from escalating in public, provide a direct email address so that the customer can email privately to discuss the matter further.
For more tips and handy small business tricks to building a strong online reputation for your brand, download this free True Local report to get all the help you need.