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Business and product reviews contribute greatly to your online reputation and are an important part of the decision making process. According to the Pew Research Center, 82% of adults in the United States say they at least occasionally read online customer ratings or reviews, with a full 40% who say they always or almost always refer to online ratings before making a purchase decision.
Reviews are one critical way in which your customers and potential employees gauge the trustworthiness and performance of your business, whether you are selling shoes, replacing roofs, or erecting structural steel. That’s why it can be incredibly harmful to have a negative review sitting out there for the world to see.
However, there are ways to minimize the effects of a negative review. If your business receives a negative review, try the following:
Ignoring a bad review won’t make it go away; the best thing you can do is address the concerns of the review quickly and directly. Your future clients will appreciate that you pay attention to feedback—both positive and negative—and took the time to respond. Craft a timely response to the review, but don’t post it in the heat of the moment. Take the time to step away and let emotions cool before clicking “submit.” If possible, before submitting the response show your reply to another person whom you trust to ensure that it hits the right notes of caring and professionalism.
If you get a particularly harsh or critical review, don’t stoop to the level of the reviewer. Show your potential customers and future employees that you operate professionally and care about the client experience. If the client (or former employee) is hostile, counteract this negativity by showing readers that you run a professional organization by keeping the discussion civil and fact-based.
When responding to a negative review, keep in mind that a public review forum like Google, Facebook, Yelp or HomeAdvisor isn’t the place to air your (or your client’s) dirty laundry. Their review, and your response, will live in that forum for years. Your review will be read by many potential clients as well as the person who left the review, so anything you say should be geared towards leaving the best possible impression to all readers. The details surrounding the interaction are not pertinent, even if you are defending your brand. If you go into too much detail about the situation your firm will seem standoffish and defensive, which is never a good thing. Keep your responses brief, positive and forward-looking.
As customers, we want to feel valued and heard. It is always good practice to thank someone who has taken the time to leave a review (either good or bad) for their time and effort and let them know that you value their business. Even if you don’t feel your firm is at fault, your client has still had a negative experience regarding your firm, and that is more than enough reason to issue a public apology.
Consider saying something simple like, “Thank you for your honest feedback. We apologize that your last interaction with our firm did not meet your expectations and are sincerely sorry for any inconvenience. We care deeply about our customers and are addressing the issues you raised internally so that we can do a better job next time.”
Sometimes customers raise issues publicly first before giving the company a chance to rectify the situation. If it is within your power to correct the problem raised, a very effective response would be to say, “We apologize for this situation, and we would love to speak with you to see what we can do to make it right. Please contact me personally and we can discuss the situation further.” Be sure to leave your email and direct phone number so the reviewer can contact you easily.
Negative reviews hurt more if the business only has a few reviews. Make it a habit to ask your satisfied customers for a review and let them know how much it helps your business. If you are doing business with a valued firm who treats you well, leave them a positive review and ask for their honest feedback as well. Positive reviews counteract the effects of negative reviews and provide another, more beneficial perspective on your company and its values.
It’s easier than ever to find “the real story” about a product or business by checking out business reviews online and a huge number of us are conditioned to do review research on everything from small purchases to business partnerships. At some point, all firms will have to deal with a negative review. However, the way you respond to a bad review says more about your company than the negative review itself. Show your other potential clients that you value your customers, listen to their concerns and care about their experience. With the right approach, how you respond to a bad Google review will demonstrate your professionalism and caring in a way that speaks to your customers and enhances your brand.