Here at Judy’s Book we get our fair share of bad reviews on businesses and subsequent complaints by businesses to remove them. While we empathize with local establishments, first and foremost, Judy’s Book is a consumer-opinion site that exists to publish people’s opinions – the good, the bad, and everything in between. We do not exist to censor content, so we don’t edit or remove reviews except for obvious breaches of our Terms & Conditions or principles. We’ve found that removing a review doesn’t address the root issue and in many cases ads fuel to the fire with the user posting more reviews on our’s and other sites. Fortunately, our research also shows that potential customers who read these reviews are pretty smart: they understand that people’s opinions are just that – opinions – and they take them with a grain of salt.
New research in Social Media also shows that how a business responds and handles a bad review can really impact the results. Sometimes going in and engaging a disgruntled customer will help them see your company in a new light and allow other users to get your perspective. Judy’s Book allows and encourages businesses to comment on reviews. Here are some tips for handling a bad review.
- The details aren’t true: Your business is being condemned for giving a reviewer a bad massage and not honoring 50 percent off coffee coupon. However, you don’t offer coffee (just tea) and you definitely don’t offer a 50 percent off. In this case, speak up and politely let them know that they may have simply misjudged something or maybe they’re confusing you with another company. If it’s a matter of bad facts, step in and politely correct them. You’re an attorney and the person reviewing you was someone you sued, in this case they’re reviewing their dissatisfaction and not your skill as an attorney. Confronting in public is much better than ignoring or trying to get the review removed where they can re-post it on any number of sites.
- Make Amends: Sometimes you just goof. Your company sold a bad product, your employee missed an appointment, the meal was brought out cold, etc. Life happens. People understand. If you blundered and someone is upset, it’s typically in your best interest to engage them and to do your best to make it right. It often doesn’t take much to smooth over one bad experience.
- When the review develops legs: Sometimes things that shouldn’t be a big deal get out of control and “me too” responses anyway. These conditions need to be addressed and need to be addressed quickly. Staying quiet simply because you don’t think it’s serious enough to warrant an answer is virtually certain to invite the fervor to spread beyond Judy’s Book and onto other sites. You don’t want that to happen. The best way to contain the mess is to handle it at its source. If something is gaining legs, get in the conversation and de-escalate. Often just a few words from you will be enough to quiet the publicity and get the dialogue on track.
Once you decide a review is worth commenting on, you need to handle it with care. Don’t rush into a response and try and remain calm. Upgraded (claimed) listings can send review comments to firstname.lastname@example.org make sure you include a link to the review you are commenting on and keep the following in mind:
- Be Honest: If you’re going to engage a negative reviewer, come at them completely honest, sincere and with your hands where they can see them. Apologize for your mistake and let them help you find a way to move forward. Don’t make excuses. Don’t try to spin it to make you look like the victim. If you messed up, apologize and immediately diffuse the situation. If you didn’t mess up, then be honest about what happened. Without pointing fingers.
- Remain Calm: If you can’t remain calm in a fight, then you should not be allowed to participate in social media. Losing your cool is one of the worst things you can do.
- Speak Like a Person: If you have a Master’s Degree this isn’t the time to show it off. Don’t down talk or have gender, social, age biases. The other day my wife was at our local car dealer getting our Prius checked out for a warning light. The mechanic said “Honey, the problem was you didn’t tighten the gas cap all the way and air got into the tank” Guess what? It was me who filled up last. Needless to say she wasn’t happy with the service.
- Promise to be better: End your reply with a promise to be better. Whether it’s a promise that you’ll try harder, make amends, listen more, etc., let them know that you heard them, you care, and that you want to be better for them. It’ll go a long way in establishing some goodwill.
- Listen: Listen without reacting. The complaints your customers have about your business aren’t really about you, they’re about them. They’re about how they feel. How they were let down. What they need. Find the root of the problem and address that. Sometimes that means looking beyond what they’re telling you. They’re commenting on the site because they want to be heard. Show them they have been.
- Keep it short: Don’t ramble on, usually 3-4 sentences is enough.
Also remember that most users generally look at the trends and one single bad review amongst many good ones doesn’t have as much weight. Especially if the good reviews are more recent.
Responding to good reviews with a simple Thank You not only acknowledges the customer who took the time to write a review but it’s an additional touch point for repeat business and to encourage others to write reviews.
Lastly, local search sites wouldn’t exist without honest people making honest recommendations, free from influence by businesses and advertisers. We’re going to keep fostering that in the Judy’s Book community and hope that it’ll continue to be upheld in other communities. Thanks for being part of ours.