Reputation management is an important part of maintaining a business. However, manually monitoring everything that…
According to research, around 84% of consumers trust the reviews they read online as much as a personal recommendation. Furthermore, online businesses that are riddled with negative reviews by customers often find themselves at the bottom of Google’s totem pole. This means the online reputation of a business can go a long way in helping to establish it as an authority in a specific niche.
While a good reputation is fueled by positive online reviews left by happy and satisfied customers, bad reviews can be equally powerful, but for all the wrong reasons. As in, bad reviews by customers can leave a negative impression on the reader and can be potent enough to push potential customers away for good.
This is reason enough for businesses to focus on getting as many positive reviews as possible while taking swift action on any bad reviews that their business receives from disgruntled customers. Keeping the importance of a company’s online reputation in mind, here we are going to take a quick look at some of the most effective ways in which businesses can prevent bad reviews while working to build a positive reputation online.
Bad Reviews Happen
No matter how vigilant you are as a business owner in making sure the product or service you deliver offers the best quality possible to your customers, there is always going to be the one that got away. It takes just one disgruntled customer to send that positive reputation you’ve built through the years crashing down like a house of cards.
But, that being said, it is important to note that getting negative reviews is not going to be the end of the world for your business. However, not doing anything about them can have a ripple effect that will be felt throughout your online presence, which includes not just your business website but also all social media accounts, forums, and review sites.
The first step towards curbing the amount of negative your business receives is, knowing why customers write bad reviews. It should be kept in mind that no customer wants to leave a negative review on your website or social media page.
Every customer wants to experience great service quality and purchase a quality product or service that they will be happy with. In short, when a business does get a bad review, it is more often than not warranted, which means you messed up and fell short of the expectations of a customer.
When that happens, it is important to take a proactive approach towards looking into the reasons behind the negative review, rather than reacting to a bad review.
Wear Your Customer’s Shoes
When it comes to improving all aspects of a business, it is important for business owners to never stop looking at their business or service from the perspective of their customers, as in their target demographic. This is crucial to the success of any business because it is not unheard of for companies to go off the rails as soon as they start to move away from the concerns of their customers.
So, how can you do that? To become your own customer, you must ask yourself the following questions;
- When was the last time I used my online store to make a purchase?
- How long did the process take from choosing a product to making the payment during the checkout process?
- Was the buying process a smooth one, as in, were there any gaps or delays during the buying process?
- How long did the delivery take?
- Was navigating on the website easy and was it easy to locate the product?
- Can the buying process be improved?
These are just some of the questions that all business owners having an online presence must ask themselves because it is the only way of knowing what your customers have to go through whenever they arrive at your online store.
Being your own customer allows you to get into your customer’s shoes and find out the areas that might need to be improved to offer an even better user experience to your customers.
While you’re at it, contact your customer service via phone and email to see how long it takes for them to respond to your request. Apart from having a stellar product, offering excellent customer service also goes a long way in leaving a positive first impression on customers and should not be ignored.
Open Lines of Communication
Sticking to the previous point of ensuring all areas of your service is perfect – it is also crucial to open up more lines of communication between your customers and your business. While many businesses focus on providing an email address, it’s also a good idea to include a phone number that your customers can utilize to find out information on the fly.
Including other communication options such as multiple phone lines, live chat, and feedback forms to the mix will ensure that no customer’s concern goes unnoticed, which can leave a bad impression on a customer.
Also, another mistake that many online businesses make is that they use chatbots and using automated bots to answer the phone calls of their customers rather than using humans to answer the queries of their customers. It is important to note that most customers prefer to hear a person’s voice when they are going through a problem that needs to be resolved, rather than talking to an automated call.
To avoid a negative impression, it is advised to always offer multiple lines of communication for your customers along with human customer representatives to answer the questions or queries of the customers.
Because adding a human voice to the mix will customers in getting the answers they are looking for in real-time, while adding more lines of communication ensures that the customers will not panic whenever they run into an issue and can’t find a means to communicate with your business.
Don’t Take Your Time to Respond
To make sure the review section of your business website or social media account is not slapped with a negative review, it is important to not waste time when it comes to responding to an unsatisfied customer.
According to research, even unhappy customers are likely to return to your business if their problem is resolved quickly without them having to wait too long. This tells us that speed is key when it comes to responding to the issues of your customers.
While it is important to provide your customers with multiple lines of communication, it is also crucial to have a team of customer support professionals who can deal with the issues of your customers on the fly.
Rather than having a single customer support representative who will have to deal with customer queries one at a time, resulting in longer wait times for customers and negative reviews, it’s best to have a dedicated team of support staff to help guide customers throughout the buying cycle.
Providing low-quality, unreliable customer support that customers have to wait for is only going to result in customers abandoning your service forever and venting their anger in a bad review that can end up influencing many other potential customers.
To push the breaks on the customer’s reaction to a less than stellar service or product, it pays to invest in a well-trained team of customer support professionals who can answer all of the queries of your customers, even when it comes to handling disgruntled customers.
At the end of the day, it is not just about solving an issue for the customer but also about representing your brand in the best way possible and coming across as friendly and caring to the customer who is looking to solve an issue. This can only be achieved by using human customer support representatives instead of chatbots, automated call answering, or pre-generated template responses.
Never Ignore Customer Reviews (Even the Bad Ones)
Many online businesses make the mistake of only responding to the positive reviews that are left on their website or social media page but conveniently ignore all negative reviews. Successful business owners know the importance of responding to all of the reviews they receive on their website or social media accounts, whether they are positive or negative reviews. While it is important to be active and thank those customers that leave positive feedback and reviews, it is equally important to respond to the negative reviews that are left by customers.
Answering both positive and negative reviews shows that the opinions of your customers matter. Furthermore, while a positive review is just praise for what you’ve done right as a service provider, negative reviews should be used as an indicator of areas that could use some improvement. When answering a bad review, it is important to stay focused on the customer’s point of view and not try to justify what went wrong, which is only going to further infuriate the already disgruntled customer.
Take Your Response Offline
So, you were quick to respond to a bad review from a disgruntled customer and did a pretty good job at explaining how and why it happened. But, your job doesn’t end there. If possible, take your communication offline by inviting the disgruntled customer to the headquarters or local branch outlet of your company to discuss the matter face-to-face.
While timely emails are a great way to show customers you care, adding a one-on-one session to the mix is a more personable way of resolving issues which can help turn that frown upside down. So, the next time a customer leaves a bad review, be quick to respond and invite them to your physical store (if possible) to have a one-on-one conversation on the issue and how it can be resolved and not repeated again. This will also be the perfect time to ask the disgruntled customer for their opinion on ways to further improve your business and the customer’s experience.
Make Good Use of an Online Reputation System
We have already touched on how crucial online reputation is to any business. More often than not, business owners simply don’t have the time to comb through their social media accounts and third-party review sites to find and address negative reviews. This is where integrating a professionally managed, online reputation system comes in. It goes without saying that reviews of customers are being uploaded all the time, and it’s safe to say that not all of them are going to be positive.
An online reputation system can work wonders in protecting and safeguarding the reputation of a business online. It achieves this by removing negative or irrelevant reviews, making place for more positive reviews. An online reputation system is also a great way to identify fake negative reviews, which can torpedo a business. Whether these fake negative reviews are left by bots, disgruntled past employees, or the competition, an online reputation system can identify such reviews and remove them before they can cause any further damage. Check out our Case Study on Positive Reviews for Businesses here.
Ending Note on Preventing Bad Reviews for Your Business
So, there you have it. These were just some of the tips the business owners can use to prevent bad reviews and an online reputation nightmare. All that businesses have to do is put in place a reliable online reputation management program along with a solid strategy of dealing with disgruntled customers to mitigate bad reviews from occurring that could have a lasting impact on the reputation of a business. With more and more consumers turning to their mobile phones to read online reviews before making a purchase, it pays to invest in a reputation management system that will keep negative reviews at bay.