— September 4, 2019
Ever since the birth of the internet, consumer feedback on businesses have increased in quantity and importance. Online reviews expose the experiences—both positive and negative—of real customers to everyone. This means the perception of every single customer matters. Responding to negative reviews can affect their perception.
Some people take this new reality lightly and ignore online review sites like Yelp and Google My Business. However, this could be hurting their businesses more than these companies realize. Why? Because 86% of consumers reveal they read online reviews for local businesses, according to Bright Local.
Why You Should Respond To Reviews
The same Bright Local study found that 89% of consumers read a company’s replies to reviews. That’s even more than those who read reviews! Not only do people want to know what their peers think, but more consumers keep a close eye on how the business reacts. By simply not responding to negative reviews you can lead consumers to believe your business doesn’t care, especially when your competitors are putting the extra care to respond to their online reviews.
When most people hear “online reviews”, Yelp is likely to come to mind. Yelp was created to connect consumers with exceptional businesses nearby. Yelp has also connected people to the worst businesses in an area, which is made abundantly clear in the ratings and reviews that reflect. Consumers can sort ratings by highest and lowest rating, which allows people to see the good, the bad and the ugly.
There are no limits when it comes to Yelp reviews. Anything from an aggressive employee tone over the phone to an employee’s inability to fix a plumbing problem, Yelp reveals all. This is why it’s important to place immense value on excellent customer service and ensure your customers always feel prioritized.
Google My Business Reviews
It’s common for people to search for local businesses on Google. Google My Business allows small and large companies to build out a profile with contact information, directions and reviews. This shows the importance of having an updated Google My Business account.
Online reviews are accessible to consumers after searching their company name on Google. This means people are seeing reviews without having to directly search for a review site such as Yelp, which further increases the importance of online review management.
Reviews You Should Report
We’ve discussed the importance of replying to reviews and a couple places to locate online reviews, but sometimes it’s acceptable to not reply to reviews. Reviews you should ignore and report include posts with a conflict of interest, fake content or abusive language.
Conflict of Interest
Conflict of interest is content published by anyone who is considered a competitor, former employee or family member. These reviewers have too close of a relationship to the company and are likely to have a bias for or against your company. If you believe a review on Google or Yelp contains a conflict of interest, flag the review for removal.
A second reason to report a review is fake content. Fake or inaccurate content unrelated to your business should be removed. Some online review platforms have specific processes to remove reviews. Don’t respond to these reviews and proceed with the platforms removal process. Leaving a note like “you have the wrong business” is likely to be perceived as a dishonest strategy to avert negative feedback.
Any review content that includes abusive, offensive or derogatory content can be flagged and removed. Unfortunately, sometimes consumers can be aggressive and foul with their language when emotions are running high. Writing an abusive review can be easy for consumers because they can hide behind a screen. This makes abusive content more frequent than most people would think.
Yelp, Google and other review sites have systems in place to remove content with certain keywords, but sometimes nasty reviews can slip through the cracks. Simply don’t respond and flag the post for removal.
Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews
Removing all negative consumer reviews from Yelp and Google may be ideal for local businesses. However, Yelp and Google would be misleading their audiences by withholding information. This could hinder their relationship with consumers and result in a loss of revenue. Plus, ignoring negative feedback reveals a lot about your ego.
Responding to negative reviews can show customers you value their business and opinions, which can attract future customers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when replying to negative online reviews.
Accept the Issue and Apologize
First things first—acknowledge the problem and apologize. Acknowledgment and acceptance of the situation can show the consumer you understand their frustration. Following the acceptance sentence, include an apology for you company’s failure to meet their expectations.
Avoid blaming a consumer for their reaction to your product or service. Every person is different, which means not a single person perceives your business the same. Why value one person’s opinion over the others?
Apologize for their negative experience and thank them for sharing their feedback. Although you may have lost this customer, future consumers will see your empathetic reply and this could win prospective business. Ultimately, this shows customers you value honest, open and transparent feedback.
Reading a negative review about your business can be frustrating. This can cause emotions to intensify and hinder smart decision making. Try taking a few deep breaths and give yourself some time to collect your thoughts before drafting your response.
A reply to a negative review that’s charged with defensive language can worsen the current situation. This shows consumers you aren’t receptive to feedback, which could result in a loss of more business. Don’t jeopardize your business by fighting fire with fire.
Take Steps to Relieve the Situation
If you’re concerned about making things right with the customer, include an offer to win their business. An offer can be anything from a comped meal at a restaurant or a discounted flight. This action shows your good intentions and dedication to excellent customer service.
It may not be wise to blast your offer publicly because consumers may attempt to take advantage of your business. Do this in a direct message setting or via email.