Even though the holiday season is over, many people are still out giving—they are gifting their reviews. Over the next few weeks, many small business owners can expect both praise and complaints to come across the main review websites like yelp; but how much do reviews actually effect businesses and what can you do to help counter complaints?
According to a study done by Bright Local, 98 percent of consumers now read online reviews and what they look for is not surprising. Only 13 percent of people will even consider using a business with a 1 or 2 star rating, and will not even bother to read the reviews. So if your only review is a negative one, it can greatly affect your business. Since the number one factor for most people when deciding on a business is their star rating, it is important to cultivate good reviews. Even though most consumers will only read reviews that are 1 to 3 months old, a bad review from the past can still affect your over-all star rating. After all, 68 percent of consumers trust businesses with higher star ratings more.
So what do you do if you get a negative review? The first step is knowing that you received one. It is important to look up reviews for your small business every few days. Many of the most successful small business owners like to respond with personal messages to both positive and negative feedback within a few hours.
Although it is easy to respond to praise, taking criticism can be much harder. If you receive a bad review, take it seriously. Look for truth and see if there is any room for improvement on your part. This is especially important if you are getting several negative reviews about the same thing.
The next step is to apologize. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the review, the fact of the matter is that one of your patrons had a negative experience and that is something you did not intend. It is important to put your personal feelings aside, and look at negative feedback—even that left by customers you remember and disagree with—objectively. It is five times more expensive to get a new customer than to keep and old one. If their review is valid, make sure to offer some type of restitution. This can be in the form of a discount or even just a vow to improve. However, if there is no truth to the review, you can respond with your side of the story.
If you choose to go this route be wary of sounding defensive. Many of the most successful businesses both small and large, understand that making enemies out of consumers does not pay off. Weigh the benefits of simply giving in and offering some kind of restitution to bad reviewers even if their side of the story isn’t completely truthful. You can respond like this:
We are very sorry that you had a bad experience with us; and although the events you describe in your review are not how we remember them, we still want you to be satisfied with our service. Please feel free to contact us so we can make it right.”
In this way, you allow a graceful out for your customer while letting any potential patrons know that you are willing to go the extra mile when it comes to customer service.