With the growing importance of consumer-based reviews, it has never been more important to have the proper toolkit to manage your reputation online. Sites like Yelp!, give users an immense power over your brand. When potential customers search for your brand, they may read some of the positive reviews – but primarily they will be looking out for the negative reviews. As a result, when a bad review is written, you need to deal with it one way or another.
Featuring your company on Yelp! or any other online review website is an important piece of the internet marketing strategy, but when a bad review begins to sour your business, how do you save your company?
Let’s consider a pretty typical negative review, and look at how a company might address it. The reviewer of a coffee shop says, “Perhaps I just came here on a wrong day. I found the staff to be rude and slow in preparing my coffee. The decor is cute, but this coffee shop was slightly on the small side for me. Not a place I would frequent during peak hours.”
A two-star review of five review on Yelp! shows unhappiness, however the issues seem somehow superficial and not much damaging. The reviewer seems like a rational person, and mostly just seems dissatisfied with their experience.
The first step should, therefore, be to reach out to the customer and try to resolve the issue. Many review sites now allow businesses to respond directly to the customer, either publicly or privately. In this case, responding publicly would be the best option. Most people writing negative reviews are mostly just frustrated, and even receiving a bit of personal attention can fix the entire problem for them. At the same time, potential customers browsing the reviews will see your response and know that your business is one that reaches out to customers to try to fix problems that arise, which will increase their trust immensely.
A response might look something like, “I’m sorry to hear you were dissatisfied with your experience! We pride ourselves on our friendly staff, so it may just be that the staff member in question was having a particularly bad day. If you’d like to stop in again for a complimentary cup of coffee, we’d appreciate the opportunity to show you the excellent quality and service that have made us so popular.”
If the person does take you up on your offer, they will be predisposed to have a positive experience, and hopefully will. In that case, they can post a follow-up review to mitigate their original negative review. If they don’t, you will still have done your part in showing how caring your company is, and you can take the further step of trying to bury the review.
Both review sites and search engines have a strong preference for fresher content – and for a good reason. A four-year-old review doesn’t do much to tell people what sort of experience they can expect from a business in the present. As a result, one strategy for dealing with bad reviews, if reconciliation fails, is to simply create enough new material that the bad review is buried deep in search results.
In the case of Yelp, this will mean soliciting positive reviews from patrons, which will both increase the overall average rating for your business, and put the negative review on a deeper page. In the case of search engines that may scour review sites, this means providing some alternate pages for your brand, which will come up earlier in search results than the negative review.