How to handle negative online reviews about your small business.

How to handle negative online reviews about your small business.

Negative reviews can really be stomach curdling to read for any small business owner.

“Your Company sucks.”

“My order got messed up and it’s your fault.”

“I will NEVER order anything else from your business.”

“Do your employees know how to spell C-U-S-T-O-M-E-R S-E-R-V-I-C-E?”

Without a doubt, any business large or small has it’s share of disgruntled customers but what has changed in the last couple of years is the opportunity to air their grievances to all and sundry through free online media. Anyone can now write a tweet, post a Facebook status update, write a blog post, write a review or upload a video on YouTube and rant lyrical about their bad experience with your small business.

So how does a small business owner handle these negative reviews? Here are 5 steps to help you control and rectify the situation

Step 1 Don’t Over react!

No matter how distressing a negative review may be, you don’t want to get anxious, fearful or so angry that you get into a super impulsive state and say or do something that you will regret later. So the first step is to just stop, get a grip and take a moment to calm down.

Step 2 Get the Facts.

Now that you have calm and clear mind from step 1, look over that negative review with an objective attitude and do your research to get the facts regarding the case. This involves matching up what the reviewer has written with your own company information about the particular transaction or experience. For example if they complained about being sold a bad product, look into your sales records and get the complete invoice, billing and shipping information and what went wrong with the transaction. By getting all your facts BEFORE engaging with an aggrieved customer, you will be able to have a clear and organized approach and know whether your business was in the wrong or not.

Step 3 Respond to the negative Comment on website where it was made.

If your small business was in the wrong then,

  • Make a sincere apology to your customer
  • Using your researched facts, explain what happened in the transaction
  • Highlight that your small business doesn’t normally do business this way with its customers based on your core values
  • Let them know that this will not happen again and the steps you have taken or are going to take to make sure of this
  • Let the customer know you value them and would like to do business with them again with a better service experience
  • Offer to rectify the situation free of charge or offer a complimentary coupon or discount and let them know you will be contacting them about this. You can also provide a contact email address or phone number for them to contact you.

Now if your business was not in the wrong, you would still

  • Let the customer know that you are sorry they had a bad experience with your company and would like to rectify the situation
  • Present your side of the story using your researched facts without sounding arrogant and trying to blame them.
  • Invite the customer to personally get in touch with your company so that you can sort things out. It’s best to give them an employees name and customer support email address/telephone number so that they feel they will get personal attention. In this way, you are moving the confrontation offline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why negative reviews may actually be a GOOD thing for your small business.

Why negative reviews may actually be a GOOD thing for your small business

Negative Reviews could actually help you.

Every business owner wants to read glowing online reviews about their business. After all, great online reviews are proven to have a positive effect on the company bottom line. However, a few less than perfect reviews may actually be a good thing for your business for the following reasons:

Believable If you have 100% 5 stars rating all the time, it will actually have the opposite effect than you expected. Perfect customer reviews make your business sound too good to be true and raise alarm bells for online surfers. They will be suspicious about your reviews and will probably think you have paid people to post favorable reviews or even worse submitted them yourself. So have about 10-20% average to mildly negative reviews will actually make your business more believable as most people know that you cannot possibly make every customer happy 365 days a year. When people are deciding which business to choose based on customer reviews, they will choose one where a majority of the reviews are positive and not necessarily a business that has 100% positive ratings.

Public Relations Negative reviews also give you as a small business owner an opportunity to demonstrate your public relation skills to an online crowd. If people can see that you responded to every negative review with a sincere, compassionate, objective and corrective attitude and approach, your business will actually be seen as more relatable and involved. It shows you are willing to go out of your way to make your customers happy and are willing to resolve any problems. Any normal person knows an average business transaction will have its hiccups and it’s comforting to know if and when it happens, the business owner will be proactive to sort it out.

Improvement Negative reviews also help you as a small business owner to get to know things about your company that you may have never gotten to know otherwise. If customers are getting poor treatment from your employees, substandard products and services- the only thing worse than them voicing their displeasure is them keeping silent about it. Without any form of feedback, you will be confused why your sales are declining because you don’t know the root causes. So see negative reviews as a way to improve your business in areas it is currently weak and that you were not aware about. This way you will actually be thanking those negative reviewers for highlighting the problems and contributing to your company success.

Why A Business Should Do Reputation Management – Part Two

Top Reasons Every Small Business Must Perform Online Reputation Management  Part 2

 Here are three more reasons why small business owners must pay attention to their online reputation.

ECOMMERCE Ecommerce has made it so much easier for small business to grow beyond their town or city locale to nationwide or even international market. Online shopping carts and payment processors have made this all possible, meaning that as a small business engaged in ecommerce, managing your online reputation is crucial to protect your online sales. Negative reviews about your products, services and customer service can damage your online sales, which can be certainly be detrimental if your small business makes more money from ecommerce than in-store sales. In addition, when you consider how certain towns, cities and states have had poor growth in the current economic recession, ecommerce can be the lifeblood of a small business trying to survive.

  • SOCIAL PROOF One of the biggest social phenomenons of ecommerce is social proof. Do you know that an overwhelming majority of surfers do not trust advertisements but instead trust endorsements and reviews from people in their social networks or from ordinary people like themselves? This is what makes consumer review sites so popular and how it is so easy to convince a new client to do business with you once they have read positive reviews about your company. Therefore in order to protect your online reputation, it is important to know what people are saying about your business because this is the single most important influencing force behind a potential clients purchasing decision.
  • Forrester Research found that 80% of businesses believe they deliver “superior” customer service. But the same study shows that just 8% of customers agree that service is superior.

  • 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews vs. 84% in 2014. This means it’s important to have a large body of reviews, as customers are reading more reviews now than in all years past.

 

  • ONLINE SEO What many business owners fail to understand is how permanent a footprint bad publicity leaves on the web. Once content has been published on a website, indexed by the search engines and shows up in the search results, it is extremely difficult to have that content removed. It is not as easy as telling Google to remove the offending page because they have no power to do that. It often involves contacting the webmaster of the blog or site where the content was posted and trying to convince them to delete the content, make the page invisible to search engines or to remove the page. This is often quite difficult as they have ownership rights over the site. Even if you resort to legal measures and they eventually remove the content, it is still difficult for that content to get totally off the internet radar especially if the content was widely circulated or went viral. Online content is definitely very sticky and something that happened many years ago can haunt your business reputation for many years to come

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why A Business Should Do Reputation Management – Part One

Top Reasons Every Small Business Must Perform Online Reputation Management  Part 1

 

One of the biggest mistakes any small business owner can make is to believe they don’t need to engage in online reputation management, just because they run a small business. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Infact the very fact that you run a small business makes it all the more imperative to manage your online brand image for two reasons:

  1. Customer referrals are the lifeblood of all small businesses
  2. You don’t have the luxury of a large marketing budget to control negative reviews or restore a damaged reputation like a large business can.

Let’s look at the first three reasons why online reputation management matters to small business owners:

  • ONLINE SEARCH The massive growth in online media and the rapid decline in offline media has made it necessary for small and large businesses alike to change direction and focus on their online image. More and more people the world over look for information on just about everything from the web and this applies to information about your local business. Your target market is more apt to look for your business online through a Google, Facebook, Yahoo or Bing Search rather than leafing through a Yellow Pages Directory book.
  • SPEED The speed at which online media operates can make or break your business in a matter of minutes or hours. A viral tweet, video, blog post or status update can be viewed by thousands if not millions of people in a span of a day creating a much more powerful effect in a shorter time than any traditional offline media. Even a small local news story can be broadcast across the nation with a YouTube video. If the news story was positive, a small business can get a lot of positive PR and increased sales, but if it was negative, it can literally destroy the business. Plus we all know that bad news spreads faster than good news.
  • EQUAL OPPORTUNITY Online media is largely an equal playing ground for both small and large businesses, so any business no matter its size can get exposure, criticism and accolades on the internet. This means that even small businesses cannot afford to ignore online reputation management because the internet has made the world so much of a smaller place. The emphasis placed on local search by dominant web players such as Google, Facebook, Yelp and others, has given more power and opportunity for small businesses to grow their presence online. Yet this increased awareness has also made it critical for any small business to know how to handle the huge public exposure and scrutiny that is part of the package.

In the next part of this article we will look at three other factors: ecommerce, social proof and online SEO

 

 

 

How To Collect Customer Reviews Using Email

How to collect customer reviews using email marketing

A creative way to collect customer reviews for your website or on review sites is to use email marketing. This is an easy way if your small business already has a database of email addresses or has been regularly sending newsletters to your client base. The beauty of using an email marketing system is that:

  1. You can get your clients attention when they are already online reading your email instead of trying to convince them to get online.
  2. You can provide links in the email to redirect them to your profile on review sites like Google Places or to a form on your website. WARNING: You might want to see their feedback, first, before giving them a link to Google, to make sure it will NOT be negative for you. So give them a link to a page on your website that is setup to receive feedback.
  3. It is easy for them to just hit the reply button and give you a personal review via email.

Only 12% of searchers are prepared to read more than 10 reviews vs. 16% in 2014 

If your business doesn’t have an email marketing system in place, the first step is to collect your clients email addresses.

  • You can do this by offering them incentives such as free coupons or discounts that will be delivered to their email address, making it necessary for them to submit their email address.
  • You can also use your in store feedback forms to get their email addresses.
  • You can also collect email addresses from your online social networks such as your business Facebook or Twitter page fans using valuable offers as incentives

Once you have collected the email addresses, you need to write friendly but convincing emails encouraging them to leave their reviews on your website or on your profile listing within review websites. A good idea is to give simple step by step instructions on how they can do this so that they can see how easy and quick the process will be and how it won’t take more than 2 or 3 minutes of their time.

Some businesses often try to “bribe” their customers with freebies in exchange for reviews, but this is often deemed unethical as it may skew your reviews and is seen as a corrupt inducement for a process that is supposed to be completely objective. So it’s best not to financial incentives in exchange for reviews. Instead appeal to your customers to give their honest review and to participate in the success of your company. If you have established a community of friendship with your customers, many of them will be happy to support your business. Use fun and inclusive words like “Let others know that Papa Joe’s have THE best burgers in town!”

44% say a review must be written within one month to be relevant.This highlights the importance of recency in reviews!

Bonus Method

If you have ever received emails from happy customers complimenting your business on your great services and products, consider this a bonus and use the opportunity to thank them and direct them to review sites where they can let others know how they feel. This is one of the most overlooked ways of tapping into positive customer feedback.